Supporting Your Most Valued Communities Without WIIFM

Awards such as the Open Web Awards are a great way for members of a community to show support for the free services they find valuable, and giving something back to the people who run them.

What’s In It For Me?

Honestly… nothing directly, unless the community owner pays you to vote for them, either directly or with prizes.
I must admit I am not a big supporter of offering prizes and gifts to encourage participation. As an example I can encourage you to join the Collective Thoughts Community on MyBlogLog, but I am not going to offer a specific incentive.
I have found that most sites offering prizes to achieve a specific marketing goal, having achieved their objectives, abandon the communities while moving onto other targets.

Have you gained benefit from using the community? If so you should think about giving something back freely.

They Make Money From Me Already

Most social communities ARE free, but still have some level of monetization

  • Advertising many people generally ignore
  • User data they might in some way exploit
  • Link juice they exploit for other commercial properties

The income earned by many communities wouldn’t be sufficient to pay for extensive commercial advertising, thus they have to rely on other methods.

Viral Growth By Word Of Mouth Marketing

Whilst you might think many of these communities, especially the more niche sites are raking in huge amounts of money, ultimately many of them grow only through word of mouth marketing.
The money they make is sufficient to cover server costs, and sometimes staff wages, but there is very little additional funding to cover paid advertising unless they have gained some significant additional funding.

Many communities grow through various forms of viral marketing, such as inviting friends by email, widgets on blogs etc, and many mercenary webmasters might look on that as being a sufficient (and often short-lived) contribution.

I Gave Up My Screen Real Estate, Isn’t That Enough?

I have been a strong supporter of various blogging communities for a long time, and am often criticized on their effect on page loading times, the amount of screen real estate they take up, and what benefit I really gain from supporting them.

Ultimately the biggest gain is being part of a community, the fabric of the web and the blogosphere that holds things together, a conduit or hub of the community rather than an end point.

It is hard to measure community, it is also hard to measure community spirit.

Giving Something Back

Think about giving something back to the communities you find most valuable, whether it be MyBlogLog, Bumpzee, Blogcatalog, Sphinn, Mixx, Digg, PlugIM, Facebook

You can nominate your favorites over at Collective Thoughts and of course you can duplicate your nominations, or vote for something different on all the blogs accepting nominations

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  1. says

    I get more inspired to give something back to some sites than others. I use digg every day, but I feel like they can take care of themselves, and the community on digg is not that great (I gave up on the comments a long time ago)

    Treehugger is a site I like better, it has a positive message, and it could use more people.

    And as far as community goes, slashdot still hits high on my list. I feel I can count on thoght provoking intelligent discussions that actually teach me things. Sure, the have their trolls and flame, but the moderation system helps a lot with that.

  2. says

    I’ll be sure to nominate Bumpzee cause that is one hell of a service…the do follow movement is a great cause and one that should be recognized..thank you sir

  3. says

    It sounds like a good contest. I feel that anything the community get involved in is only a good thing. And for the recognition of services thats another great objective. I have been posting thoughts on your community mybloglog for some time, i feel that you deserve this recognition. I hope you go on to maybe recieve an award if thats possible and people vote directly for you.

    Regards Andrew C

  4. says

    I am a member of MyBlogLog and BlogCatalog but I never thought of “giving something back freely” to these communities until after I read this post.

    You are right, after the amount of traffic my site got (and will get) just being a member of these communities.. it is just right to give something back to them.

  5. says

    Community definitely becomes a very different concept once there are dollars to be made from it. The real trick seems to be weeding out the communities where the money has diminished the value and finding the communities where they’ve struck a nice balance. Of course, if you find a great community that hasn’t been monetized – buy it!! :)

  6. says

    It’s amazing to see the “every wo/man for him/herself” medium of the Internet be expressed in terms like “social responsibility” and “giving something back”. There are a lot of ways to “give something back” and this is a good one to add to the list. Apologies if this was double-posted; it’s my first time here and I didn’t know if there was some kind of approval process or my browser just hiccupped.

  7. says

    Andy, there seems to be a lot of negativity toward TechCrunch from the bloggers.
    You are one of the sound and rational leaders from the blogging community.

    I invite you and other bloggers to come to GetSatisfaction and voice yoour complaints to TechCrunch reperesentatives in an open forum.

    You will find the conversation under TechCrunch post, “why are blogger pathetic”

    I raised this question on behalf of the bloggers to Michael Arrington.

    Thank you,

  8. says

    Good article, thats really something to think about. Its always interesting to see how social websites make money out of their project. I think its good to give something back especially when the community is the machines that drives the website :)


  9. says

    Hi Andy,

    Great blog post with much to think about and apply.

    Thanks for quality content and not a bunch of filler.

    I plugged this post and joined your bloglog community.

    Merry Christmas,


    AKA – The Militant Marketer

  10. says

    Mybloglog is an awesome service, and I agree with the reader above. All the free traffic from these sites is definitely a good reason to give back.

  11. says

    I agree with Michelle, these are some great things to think about and I like your perspective, although it goes way beyond anything I’ve experimented with yet at AskApache, which is coming up on its 1 year anniversary this month. I’ve been planning the launch and strategy of a new blog yet-to-be-launched and I am definately going to do a lot more of this WIIFM type approach, much more personal and fun to read.

    I think a big difference between a lot of blogs that I see and the AskApache blog is the amount of fluff. IOW, its less about getting the user to keep clicking on the next link because they think they are going to discover something great.. and in reality its just never-ending marketing talk to get the next click… For that blog the approach is more like specific problem or solution for a specific niche and alot of original content that delivers instead of gropes for that next click to that next viral article that really is a good read but mostly an empty promise and a waste of time (albeit fun to read).

  12. says

    Andy looks like Arrigton is showing a little respect for the Bloggers

    A few days after my post on GetSatisfaction to Arrigton people, they anounced the change! One for the Keeper..:)

    Now I am doing some Smaba with Danny on SEOmoz that one is more like the Tango..:)
    Give it a Sphinn, if you have not done so yet, I am sure Danny would love that.

    He is such a nice guy!

  13. says

    Before my DSL service starting getting really lousy about 3 months ago, I was trying to be involved in several communities. Nowawdays, I only get about 6 hours of connectivity a day at the most. Hopefully, I’ll have a new provider in January and be able to spend more time at them.

    Other than senseless discussions, I think all of them have points of value, so why not support them?

    • says

      RT I know where you are coming from – I am really feeling the pain of not having a decent internet connection for the last 2 weeks. I am almost totally out of touch with what is going on in my “online world”, but I will be catching up in a few days.

  14. says

    Well communities are what make the world go round…

    I find it very useful to go around and do the dance, meet people, share knowledge, and have fun..:)

    It is sort of like traveling, new city, new faces, new spaces every day, and then come back to the places you like and say hello, from time to time!

    Never get bored! Plus all the links WoW!

  15. says


    Interesting post… especially since I’m right now doing a contest on my blog to reward participation. oops?

    I knew when I started it that I risked some people thinking it cheesy or artificial. Coming from my background in commercial radio, those are two adjectives I’m familiar with.

    I guess I could have found a way to disguise it and make it seem less like a contest specifically designed to be so self-serving. But I opted for the “out in the open” approach. Time will tell if it was the right thing to do.

    Anyway, I was talking to Rich Schefren recently and he mentioned you as a blogger he really respects… which made me come back and revisit your blog. Somehow I lost track of you when I switched to Google Reader. But never fear… you’re back in my “subs” list where you belong!

  16. says

    Giving back to the community is more than just a buzzword. It’s a mindset. Giving of yourself without an immediate, tangible reward shows a level of devotion that can’t be faked. Good advice.