Article updated (original date: 05-2007). In the attention economy context, a common question is: “How attract the people’s attention to my web page when I’m new and I don’t have any reputation?” . The classical marketing way is to spam people with emails. Another solution is to pay falsely attention to people to have their attention due to a psychological reciprocity factor and create a new kind of spamming: “attention” spamming.
Social reciprocity mechanism
I’m sure you know the simple social mechanism used in websites like Viadeo, linkedin or in the Mybloglog widget (check out it at the bottom-left side of my blog with the last mybloglog members who have read my blog): if a user A visits a user B’s profile/blog, this one will know it. Because a user is always curious to know who is interested by him, he will certainly go to the visitor’s page. So B will certainly go to visit the user A’s page. This very simple feature has a real social impact on the people behavior and can be hijacked for our purpose
How paying falsely attention to thousand of people?
Now imagine you create a program taking your identity in a community using this feature, and that visits all the members’ blogs. For each member, instead of sending an email to him/her as a classical marketing way, the program would take your identity, letting a trace of your visit on their blogs , simulating some attention for this person. In doing that you have artificially increased your attention for the others’ point of view, and visiting thousand of people’s blog using the social feature in their blogs is just enough to attract a lot of attention to you.
Experimentation & results
I tried and… it works well :-). My small program explored the mybloglog network (just the 100 first people according to their degrees in my network) and went to their blogs. I don’t remember the exact results but a lot of people went to my blog to see who I was. (Maybe people who are reading this post have been attracted by my bot). Of course you have to target the long tail of people who don’t have a lot of visitors.
My goal is not to encourage this kind of spamming, nor to manipulate people (i.e. the people think they decide themselft to visit my blog even if it’s not really the case, because of this psychological pitfall). It was just an experimentation ;-).