Social news site Inbound.org wants more PR pros to join the community. And PR pros should take note, because there are lessons to be learned both in PR and SEO.
Inbound is a moderated news site that aggregates some of the hottest links on the web. Since it attracts an influential community of users, links on Inbound that heat up, tend to break out and attract mass appeal.
The site traditionally caters to SEOs but has expanded its content categories that also includes a PR category. A recent post by Tad Chef on
getting earning attention on Inbound, has sparked a healthy conversation from the community, including moderators, where one clearly stated, “I’d love to see more PR types on here.”
What is Inbound?
Inbound is a social news site similar to Digg, BizSugar, Reddit or StumbleUpon, with a twist of TechMeme or Hacker News (a venture of tech seed incubator Y Combinator). Most notably, self-submissions are frowned upon and actively policed. It’s got some algorithmic help too and promises that “new algorithms coming out that will basically kill the visibility of self-submissions overnight.”
The site is a joint effort launched in early 2012, between two founding members of technology vendors SEOmoz and Hubspot. In my opinion, it’s savvy marketing for both those vendors, and reminds me of the CMO.com venture developed by Adobe.
Yet the site is quite careful to cater to its members’ needs. In many ways it’s a trust building medium where the community benefits even as the vendors do, if not more. When perusing the site, I tend to see more submissions from SEOmoz than I do from Hubspot, but then, the former tends to publish deeper and more technical content, while the latter often publishes broad and generalized social marketing advice.
What’s acceptable content?
Anytime PR pros venture into a new social site, it’s often best to simply watch and listen first. Inbound offers five guidelines for submissions, the first one of which is “be cool.” We all know what that means: self-promotional and low quality submissions will get a user thrown in the penalty box.
Inbound’s guidelines are stringent — two strikes — and your out. One strike can also get you tossed. How? “Our single biggest type of spammer is the “hit and run” spammer,” according to the guidelines. “The type that signs up and drops loads of poor quality irrelevant links from their own sites, then never turns up again.”
Invariably, this behavior is what destroyed sites like Digg, but it’s a balancing act, because moderation can draw accusations of bias. What Inbound really wants is great links that foster natural voting from the community. This is where Tad’s post offers a PR lesson — the power of third-party validation — that comes when someone other than an author submits content:
So do not only write for yourself and submit yourself. Write for the Inbound audience and get promoted by it. You won’t get “massive traffic” but the elite of the global inbound marketing and SEO industry will see your message.
Join Inbound to Give, not just Get
What attracted me to Inbound was the chance to soak up information about SEO — at the urging of an SEO. PR pros will find increasingly, SEOs have a strong grip on earned media and why PR and SEO go together. SEO is important in every facet of PR from authoritative link building to content marketing to crisis communications.
Some of the best links I’ve found on Inbound — I’d never find on a PR blog or news site — include:
- All of Matt Cutts Videos Summarised into Actual Answers
- The Human Side of Black Hat SEO
- Your Google Plus Network Is More Powerful Than You Know
- Why I’m quitting SEO
- “You’re more likely to survive a plane crash than click a banner ad.”
- How we got a DA96 Link from a Press Release
- How I gained a link from Seth Godin
Do you know any PR pros that can accurately define a DA96 link? I don’t and I couldn’t either until I read that post — it’s a “super contextual, followed, awesome link.” That means a relevant link, from a respected domain, that anchors key words that are valuable to a site you are promoting. PR pros need to understand that not all links are equal.
I lurked on Inbound for about six months before joining — just watching, reading links and observing the interaction. I visit several times a week. Today, I comment. I ask questions, even if I later realize how dumb those questions were; on the other hand, there are no dumb questions: we can ask and get answers or we can continue to wonder unknowingly. Which is better?
Finally, I’ve gotten more involved and to date have submitted 17 links, four of which are self-submissions. No doubt about it, I’m aiming for visibility on my own links, but I’ve reserved my self-submissions to posts that were already performing well in social media.
It’s also important to point out, of the other 13 links I’ve submitted, I thought they were really solid posts and tested for some sort of validation. For example, if I posted a link on Google+ or on Twitter and it earned a lot of retweets or +1’s, I’d consider that proof it’s worth a submission on Inbound.
One example is this article on AdWeek: Prankvertising: Are Outrageous Marketing Stunts Worth the Risks? This is an awesome article and though it ran on AdWeek, it has a lot of points relevant to PR pros, and yet it has attracted no votes on Inbound.
Why? I think Tad offers a good explanation in his aforementioned post:
I never submit what the community wants, I submit what I want the community to know.
To me, that’s also a good reason for more PR pros to accept Inbound’s invitation and join the community — plus your SEO will love you for it. Just take it slow — and represent the industry well.
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