Mike Essex

Why I Love The Digital Marketing Community

20th Jul 2012 Brand 6 minutes to read

Love Heart CandyI’ve had a few rants recently… ok make that a lot. So today’s post is something totally different; a sunshine, lollypops and puppy dogs post compared to my recent ones. And why not? When writing a post about the digital marketing community it’s hard not to smile, and that’s what I want to celebrate today.

No rants. Honest.

Everyone has time to help
The general rule in the digital marketing community seems to be that the busier someone is, the more likely they are to help. It goes against general business rules and yet it is an essential part of the community and one of the key reasons for its growth every year.

For our post on How did you get started with SEO or Digital Marketing, 26 people took the time to share their experiences to help others get started. That’s incredibly useful for someone new to the industry and is just one of the thousands of helpful posts written every day.

Likewise when I asked people to help me with a personal challenge, over 60 people have said they would take time to lend their support on 27th July. If I wanted 60 friends outside of the community to help it would take me days of begging and pleading, but with the online marketing community the response was amazing and I think there’s a really good chance of succeeding in the challenge too.

Helpful People

There are very few corporate secrets
Another thing that makes very little business sense is the way the community shares vital corporate information. In any other industry if someone spent hours creating a tool and then gave it away for free they would be fired and probably taken to court. Yet it happens all the time in our industry – such as tools by SEOgadget and Distilled. Neither of these companies sell tools, so there’s no possibility of them selling you further paid tools, and yet they help the community by giving away free tools.

It’s illogical and yet I love the community for it.

SERP TurkeyJust one of the many free tools. Thanks Tom Anthony!

Likewise hardly any of the big SEO blogs are run for a profit. They exist for people to share information and help others. Our community is one of the few that realise that giving away information helps people gain trust in your brand. Whether it be filming videos for Koozai TV, making free digital marketing guides or writing for the blog, it’s a lesson we try to put in to practice with all we do.

People do crazy things (so you don’t have to)
The other great thing about all this sharing is that whenever you have a problem to solve someone has probably already done it, blogged about it and told you exactly how to fix it. In some cases large scale experiments have been run that save countless man hours and guesswork for everyone else in the industry.

The Branded3 Tweets vs Rankings study provides a lot of data that only a huge product could. James Agate helped confirm outreach theories by tracking 400 guest post pitches and then Mike King took this a step further by plotting the trends in 300,000 outreach emails. Does anyone else have the time to do that? Nope. Well thankfully Mike did, and he shared it with the world. That’s the kind of community we work in, and it rocks.

People give credit where credit is due
While other industries seem to spend as much time as they trying not to credit the original source, the digital marketing community is (almost) always happy to credit them. In this article I’ve linked to numerous competitors giving them an SEO boost. If I worked in another industry I’d get a slap on wrists and the links would be “nofollowed” or removed.

Our community is built on trust and mutual respect. We give links here, we get them back there. It works and it’s not crazy (although some other industries may see it as such).

For example when I sent Rand Fishkin a topic for his slidedeck I hoped he’d feature it but I certainly didn’t expect my name on the slide, or for Rand to break the fourth wall and look directly at me in the audience and say thank you. You can see the slides here and my smiley face on slide 53. Within an hour in the next presentation Mike King did the exact same thing (slide 73). It was literally the best day ever.

Thanks Rand!

We welcome newbies
What made the above even more exciting was that a year before that point I attended the exact same conference and knew about five people. Fast forward a year and I bumped in to someone I knew every couple of minutes. Every single person I’ve met in the industry has been friendly and incredibly welcoming and anyone new to the industry is welcomed with open arms.

PRO TIP: Leil Lowndes books helped me incredibly as well. I felt like a shy little kid before I read them, and a combination of her books and the welcoming community make it so easy to feel like a part of something incredible.

Leil LowndesThis book will change the way you network

We’re a community where an 18 year old can teach people things they never knew before. And yet we also have incredible respect for the people who helped us grow. That’s why so many people spoke in support for Tom Critchlow and Jonathan Colman when they left SEO, and why Mel Carson received an incredible amount of public support when his role at Microsoft was “eliminated”. We’re all in this together, and it shows.

We fight for the industry
It feels like not a week has gone by so far in 2012 without an attack on online marketing or SEO. Rather than sitting back we’ve fought back and continue to fight. The comments on this Kernel article show SEO’s unprepared to be marginalised and stereotyped based on a few bad apples.

Likewise when we see bad things happening in the industry we fight back against them. Our article on eBook spam was featured in the Guardian, TIME and more. When we fought against review spam it made the homepage of Hackernews and bought in over 8,000 visitors. People clearly care about these issues, and we’re not the only ones fighting either (such as Jane Copland’s excellent post on Women as entertainment in the SEO industry).

Even this week when a children’s furniture shop lost their rankings as a result of bad SEO, countless members of the SEO community pledged their support to help save the store.

For all these reasons it makes me proud of our industry. Which is why it hurts all the more when we are seen as a subculture that only sells fraudulent products or services (thanks The Verge!).

As long as we continue to be an open community dedicated to sharing information and helping each other the digital marketing community can handle any problem. That’s why the community is amazing. Long may it continue.

Normal ranting service will resume next time.

Image Source

Love Heart Candy via BigStock

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