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Blog Karma and Social Capital with Katja Presnal and Kelby Carr

If you’re a regular Dear Reader, you will notice that the following is content that is not at all my norm. I’m at the Type-A Mom blogging conference, and I wanted to post my conference notes to help other participants.

Please forgive the typos. I’m typing quickly, and I will edit when I can.

Blog Karma and Social Capital with Katja Presnal and Kelby Carr

From the Type-A Mom conference program:

Yes, it does help YOU to pay it forward, not just for that warm satisfaction but also because it is good business and helps you build powerful social capital. Find out how to build a loyal network, when to ask your network for help, the difference between over-promoting and helping, and how to have the right people whispering your name is louder than several people shouting it.

Kelby – is only a year and a few months old, but I have been working on websites for more than ten years. I wanted to have something central instead of a bunch of things that’s all over the place. I went on Twitter asking if anybody wanted to be on my MomRoll, thinking that nobody would ever go there. Tons of people did. And then I did a round-up post about other people’s stuff, and then people started coming to my site all the time.

People liked me. If I Tweeted, people would reTweet for me. I saw Alli Worthington say that she was Stumbling stuff, and so I stole her idea. And then I started to find that the slightest bit of helping other people came back to me tenfold. I was connecting with lots of new people and having lots of fun.

Katja – I didn’t start until BlogHer. I put up a little internet store selling children’s clothing. I had been online since 2004, but I was selling on a Finnish eBay site. It was like my connection to there, to stay in touch with Finland.

I wanted to have my store and everything perfect before I launched it. I wished that I’d had some kind of community before it happened, but I didn’t build it until the store launched. I was looking for great products to sell when I found blogs. I thought I would have them feature products from my store. Then they started writing about how it was like shopping at their best friend’s store, and they mentioned my name and they were so nice. I was so impressed with the bloggers. I still remember the first people who wrote about my store, they were Jane and Audrey from MomGenerations.

So I wanted to give back to the community, and I decided to start a blog. I interviewed other bloggers on my blog. I linked to people’s products. I interviewed Melanie from Saavy Auntie before she launched her site. It made my day to help other people boost their businesses.

It wasn’t a business strategy or anything, I just helped people without asking for anything back. One day, I created a gift basket for Tom Cruise for his family. A mutual friend got this basket to give to his family for Christmas. I was hoping that Suri Cruise would wear one of the pieces and be photographed or something. That didn’t happen, but one day, the Oprah show was going to interview Tom Cruise the first time after his couch jumping incident. He showed the shoes and said that they were Suri’s favorite shoes and Oprah gushed over them. They didn’t mention my store. I didn’t do a press release or anything, but I told all of my friends and they told all of their friends. The next week, 50 different blogs wrote about it and the news talked about it in the US and in Europe.

I treat people the way I want to be treated, and I am nice to them. I wanted to get the story out that I am just nice to people and that helping each other and building a community is the only way to go. You have to give it back every day. You never know when you’re going to need that help, too.

Kelby – One thing I would add, too, is that it’s extremely important in blogging to build a community. We are all a community. We’re participating in a community. Nobody is any more or less important about anybody else. We’re all connected. When you are helping people, you have to remember to help people who are just starting out. You never know who is going to shoot through the roof tomorrow. Helping someone who is just beginning, or who is struggling to get started, might even pay off in a selfish way. We’re all just moms who are trying to figure it out.

We are a community. We shouldn’t be attacking each other. If you attack someone else, you’re putting a ding in your own social capital. I can be snarky and mean as much as anyone else, but if you’re being selfish and mean in public, nobody is going to forget. Even if it’s not being blogged about, people are going to remember and whisper and Skype about it.

Katja – It’s PR, too. You have to do your own PR. Every blogger is a business person. Your brand is affected by every single thing you do. What if your brand is that you’re a nice girl who helps everybody else? It’s good PR.

What do you do with PR pitches you don’t want or can’t do? You could recommend some other people, especially someone who has never been pitched before. PR people may not know about her, and hooking them up will do both of them a favor.

Find out who’s linking to you using Google Alerts or from the referrals in your site’s stats. You can then be nice to them and help them out, too.

Audience question – What is the legacy that you’re trying to leave?

Katja – I don’t think about that so much. I don’t want to be pushy and think about that. I want people to remember that I helped them get to where they are today. Like if people say, “You were one of the first people who followed me on Twitter” or “You blogged about me” or “You interviewed me and that helped me get started”

Audience – I don’t want to harass my friends.

Kelby – I think if your friends have similar interests, they might be interested. You do have to be careful about not bugging them, but don’t assume they don’t want to hear about it.

Katja – Sometimes, you have to ask for help. Let your friends know what’s going on. They might want to help but don’t know you need it.

Kelby – You don’t want to dominate the discussion. I’m annoying right now because all I’m thinking about is the conference. You can self promote, but the % of self promotion should be dramatically lower. If you are RTing or writing “You have to read this because it’s awesome!”

Megan Jordan – I am not very good at commenting. I think it’s better to send a Tweet about it where I mention it on Twitter and send lots of people to their blog. They won’t ever know that I did it, and I won’t tell them, but it helps them.

Katja – If you’re doing this just to reap the benefits, you’re missing the point. You have to do it just to do it to help people and be altruistic.

Kelby – It would be pretty clear to people that you sent out a link to a small blog because you thought it was good and wanted to help those people.

Alli Worthington – We have this secret thing where a few power people Stumble a unknown blogger’s post and get lots of traffic for it. But they don’t ask us to Stumble them. Asking for a Stumble is tacky.

Katja – Sometimes a personal connection through email is good, too.

Sugar Jones – Tell people personally how much value they give you. It might be such a big deal to them, and it might make the difference between continuing to blog and shutting down.

Cecily K – Especially if you are frustrated with Stumble Upon, use Kirtsy. Kirsty is the sumbling site for women and it’s a lot easier to use.

Morning Side Mom – Any way that we can support any blogger, we can help our whole community. There’s no competition. We aren’t competing with each other. When one of us get better, we all get better.

Kelby – There is absolutely room at the top for all of us, but it will never happen if we attack each other. Are you getting anything out of being mad because someone else got more attention than you? No. Put it back on yourself. Should you be marketing yourself. Should you make friends with a reporter.

Katja – There is no such thing as being at the top. This is a community, and we’re all in it together. Making the community thrive helps all of us. Being bitter and mean drags the whole community down.

Kelby – If we want more opportunities, too, we can’t be seen as catty, mean people. If an opportunity comes up for 5 people and the rest of us whine “why didn’t I…” on Twitter, the next company might pass by.

© 2009, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

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