June 13, 2008

Giving a Service Wings By Pushing Them from the Nest

For those of us blogging who like to break the news by announcing new services, and using our site as their platform to debut, it can be tempting to pull an "old world" journalism mentality and claim that topic as "our turf", resenting anybody else who tries to step in and steal the thunder by posting the news first, or even feeling betrayed if the entrepreneur takes the news somewhere else. But I've seen that after what I consider an incubation period, the fastest-growing services do best when I can step back and let them take their first steps away from the nest, as they engage with other bloggers, gaining them a new audience and greater exposure.

In this analogy, it can be nerve-wracking to see the little ones as they leave the nest. I worry the new caregivers might not see them in the same way I do. The new influencer might be cruel or may not recognize their talents. But to try and protect them by keeping them in the nest could stunt their growth.

As mentioned in yesterday's popular post, the first stage of being an early adopter can at times be indistinguishable from the service's PR or Marketing firm, as you try to make a product you like extremely visible. You've no doubt seen me do this, as I'll not just help by introducing a product, but keeping you posted on its updates, from Assetbar to ReadBurner, FriendFeedMachine, RSSmeme and Toluu.

But there comes a time when the right thing to do is let go, when the service has gained such momentum that I instead suggest the developer reach out to other sites to get a broader perspective and more exposure, so that their service is less tied in with me, and seen, instead as more of the broader landscape.

Don't get me wrong. I love exclusives, and part of my journalism background makes the little hairs on the back of my neck stand up when I know that someone who might be considered competition is writing about the same topic at the same time with the same deadline. But lately, for services that have gotten some traction, I've opted out of story opportunities and encouraged the developer to get some new voices talking instead.

A prime example of this was with Toluu yesterday. On Wednesday, Caleb Elston reached out to me with some great new service updates, including details on subscriptions within Toluu by feed, and story popularity, in part helped by AideRSS. I told Caleb that instead of waiting for me, to take his outreach to the next level, and it worked, without question. Yesterday ended up being a record-setting day for Toluu, after what Hutch Carpenter called a great example of social media marketing, by participating and reaching out to bloggers and following Toluu references on both FriendFeed and Twitter.

Similarly, RSSmeme announced options to find similar sharers of data to you, and integrated widgets on each page that show top tags and sharers for that blog or topic. See: Using RSSmeme To Find Similar Sharers: Louis Gray’s Example. Having just given RSSmeme a ton of credit last Saturday on being the authority on Google Reader sharing notes, I again waved the white flag, and told Benjamin to spread the word. He did, leveraging a custom room on FriendFeed for RSSmeme, to update followers, also adding RSSmeme as a user of the service, and today, leveraging the FriendFeed API to speed up the site.

You can see how other services have taken steps to leave the nest, as other sites, often much bigger than mine, take up the rallying cry:

The Inquisitr: ReadBurner Gets Digg Like Features

Mashable: Shyftr Beats Google Reader with OPML Imports

SheGeeks: LinkRiver is My Personal Techmeme

Part of being a good partner to new services is knowing when to let go, and to see if the service has wings. A few weeks ago, I wrote to one pair of entrepreneurs, "Let me know if there's anything else I can do, but I do believe it's going to come down to you guys being more visible." With everything else that's going on, I can't possibly do it all myself. That's why, even though it can be bittersweet on occasion, the right thing to do is let them take a risk and let go. It gives others, like Corvida, the opportunity to do a social media roundup on service updates, and it's best for the community at large.