Give people something to copy

Quick blogging tip: When someone writes an incredibly flattering post about you, don’t immediately link to the flattering post. Why?

Because many times when someone does this, the link can actually be hurtful because it’s not a real link to quality content. The author, the flattered one, often pretends they’re really writing about the rest of the post and not the part about themselves. But they’re really writing to point out that someone likes them.

I’m not immune to this. I’ve done it too. But its completely obvious. In some cases, someone will actually point to someone else’s post and not mention that there is a part of the post about them…pretending to ignore it. That is so weird though, when you go read the post and wonder…does the person think I’m an idiot?

Instead, wait until that person writes something really cool, and then link to that.

Quick blogging tip: When someone writes an incredibly flattering post about you, don’t immediately link to the flattering post. Why?

Because many times when someone does this, the link can actually be hurtful because it’s not a real link to quality content. The author, the flattered one, often pretends they’re really writing about the rest of the post and not the part about themselves. But they’re really writing to point out that someone likes them.

I’m not immune to this. I’ve done it too. But its completely obvious. In some cases, someone will actually point to someone else’s post and not mention that there is a part of the post about them…pretending to ignore it. That is so weird though, when you go read the post and wonder…does the person think I’m an idiot?

Instead, wait until that person writes something really cool, and then link to that. In this case, Mark Earls, whose blog is Herd, the hidden truth about who we are, has written an insightful post about how humans copy each other so much: Copying is Good.

He says:

“Whatever our culture (and of course our own minds) tell us, human beings are copying machines. We do it all the time from the moment we are born to the day we die. Copying is a much more important form of learning for humans than it is for other primates.

One of the plausible explanations for this is that human beings are born c.12months premature into much more sophisticated social lives than any other primate; this requires a lot of learning and it seems easiest to get the thing roughly down first of all and correct things (if necessary) later on. Copying is an ideal strategy for this kind of “stupid” infant; it’s just something that stays switched on through our adult lives, also.”

His resulting design suggestion? “Give people something to copy”.

Now this is social design! This is how to take advantage of what people already do socially and make tools to help support it.

If you link immediately and don’t wait, you’re actually diluting the value of your link because people unfamiliar with the blog will think that’s what they write about or the only reason you linked to them is because they write flattering stuff. Instead, you owe it to your readers to link to the cream of their crop.

And, by the way, this is how to keep a high pagerank. Always obsess over what you link to. Make sure its good and adds to the conversation! And, in terms of full disclosure, mention that they wrote something very flattering about you. ;)

You need to show your readers why their blog is a good read…so save your links for a post that pushes the discussion forward.

Published: May 14th, 2007

Hi there. So...I'm trying an experiment. I'm experimenting with product design and growth hacking strategies on a new project called What to Wear. It's a super simple service that sends you a daily email containing clothing recommendations based on the weather. My focus is to make it really useful, and it's free to sign up. Let me know what you think!