Infected and Loving it

By Jay Greathouse, published at 10 May 2007 - 8:12pm, last updated 12 years 17 weeks ago.

I have become infected with the viral community meme. Of course I exposed myself to it but was naive as to the outcome. It turns out I am being sucked into a community. This all started as an experiment. My wife and I had started a simple static web site as a very small business venture. Once one commits to doing business online it becomes imperative to become noticed and indexed by Google. In addition, the rank of the web site in the search engine returns must be high. It is generally conceded that anything past the second page of search engine returns is oblivion.

It turns out that it could well take a year to get a static web site indexed by Google. Impatient with this news I sought how to route around this damage and discovered blogging. The rumor was that a blog would not only get your site indexed sooner but it would also improve the site’s ranking because of the ever increasing content and the increased likelihood of other people linking to it. These external incoming links contributed to Google’s page rank. We had to have page rank.

So I started a blog somewhat carelessly and started commenting on other people’s blogs. In my comments I would leave links and enticing statements in the attempt to generate traffic and hopefully increased linking. At our blog I created links on every page to our static web site. And all this worked. The static site was indexed within weeks and place near the top of the search engine returns for our key words. I was both happy and amazed.

Now we were getting traffic but no business. We determined that a very small business in our niche was very unimpressive to potential customers. We suffered. So I began to look around on line for another income source and discovered blogging for money. The biggest moneymakers are those selling information on how to blog for money. The next tier of moneymakers is their affiliates that send them customers. This is the story of the California gold rush all over again.

It seems that the first person to make a million dollars on the gold rush was the merchant that cornered the market on shovels. Perhaps this is only a myth but the moral of the parable rings true. This merchant went around San Francisco and bought up every shovel then went through the streets evangelizing big gold strikes. This created a huge demand for shovels that he then sold at generous profit becoming the first San Francisco millionaire of the gold rush.

Avoiding the Internet shovel sellers I dug deeper and found others who were indeed making money on blogging. It all came down to a simple formula. Traffic had to be first created then converted to product purchasers. Conversion is an established art and skill. Products are going begging for savvy marketers. Traffic is the key and its methods of generation are not secrets. All one had to do was to either join or create a community.

Social marketing and viral marketing are the currently popular terms but it all comes down to gossip. It is like the cliques you have had to deal with all the way through school and in the office. But it is all done in virtual space and you have the opportunity to virtually groom yourself to fit in. If you listen, they will even tell you how. And the people making it on line are likely to be the ones who did not fit into the cliques back at school or in the office.

There is a very small picture here of very common people who are banding together for their mutual benefit. These are people who would have had to drive 100 miles to get together with a half dozen like-minded souls a generation ago. And as soon as this phenomenon is exposed it created celebrities that are no longer fit for membership. To study it is to destroy it. Increased visibility destroys the community. I am still getting used to this but I am happy to be part of a community. But I don’t think I am going to write about it.