Friday, August 21, 2009

Are You Guilty of Anti-Social Marketing?

How to avoid being an accidental blammer, drive-by shooter, or hitchhiker.

Social media marketing is evolving pretty quickly, so many of us are learning as we go. Learning means trying new things, and testing limits.

Unfortunately, I am seeing some people really testing the limits of social media – to the point of being anti-social. I think a lot of this behavior may be inadvertent. But it goes against the spirit of social media marketing and it will hurt – not help – the craft of social media marketing in the long run.

Here are three common offenders* – and some advice on how to avoid becoming one.

The Blammer: The urban dictionary defines a blammer as “someone who spams blogs in order to obtain backlinks to their own site.” Here’s one example. A colleague of mine posted an extensive, well-written “10 tips” article on his blog. A woman posted a one-line comment that essentially said “hire me for this part of the problem,” with a link to her web site. The comment seemed too intelligent to be an automated spam, but the effect was the same: thoughtless, selfish and, well, anti-social. The sad thing: this woman is tops in her field, but I would never hire her on principle for fear that she’d act thoughtless and selfish with my clients.

My advice: Don’t be an accidental blammer. If you comment on someone’s blog, leave some value behind – not just a sales pitch. Spend five minutes making some substantive comments, adding some educational value and some context before you make your sales pitch. You might just spark a dialog that enhances your reputation and opens up even more business opportunity – even if you have no blog of your own.

The Drive-By Shooter: By my estimates, more than half of comments to blogs and other social media sites are off-topic, crazy or just plain mean: offhand comments lobbed just for the heck of it, and usually anonymously. So I was surprised when I received an offhand comment like that in the relatively intimate and accountable world of Facebook.

A friend of a friend made an offhand comment about something I had posted. While I was tempted to dismiss it for what it appeared to be, I didn’t. Reading between the lines, I saw that the commenter was making an interesting point. So, I responded in public: I thanked her for her comment and encouraged her to blog about it if she wasn’t already. She later sent me a personal message apologizing for the offhand remark, and thanking me for responding seriously and graciously. We are now Facebook friends. I have met someone new with professional interests and personal interests similar to mine – the value of social media.

My advice: Don’t join the mindless ranks of drive-by shooters, or lob-em-and-leave-em commenters. Do be thought-provoking and sensationalist, but also be thoughtful. Take advantage of the available real estate in comments sections: provide your thoughts, get a dialog going, spark a useful debate. Dialog and debate is incredibly powerful, and it advances not only your personal brand but also the cumulative value of social media.

And remember: a lot of what you say is searchable forever, so it contributes – positively or negatively – to your personal digital profile on the Web.

The Hitchhiker: Ok, this one really ticks me off. A Tweep Tweeted his own blog as if it were someone else’s: “wow, here’s a great blog! Tell everyone!!” He also tacked on the names of three other Tweeps – unrelated (as far as I can tell) to anything in the blog. And this wasn’t an isolated Tweet; it’s apparently his standard M.O.

This seems like a cheap way to amass followers. Ironically, the blog is actually pretty good. But I would never follow it on principle, because I now don’t trust the blogger. If he uses such transparent trickery to promote his blog, he’s completely untrustworthy in my opinion. I can’t trust his content.

My advice: Let your blog content stand on its own. Use your Tweets to get the right people to your blog. Be controversial, colorful and “out there.” SEO as you go. You may not build your followers as fast, but you will create a more valuable, committed audience – which ultimately has much more marketing value.

Social media marketers seem to be diverging into two camps: the Sluts and the Substance. The Sluts want to get business and followers without extending themselves. The Substance are people who understand that great, thoughtful content is more likely to attract the right followers – and that good business will follow and sustain itself.

Call me naïve, but I aspire to the Substance.

* I am avoiding real names here because lawyers have apparently identified social media as fertile ground for defamation lawsuits.

No comments:

Post a Comment