Believe it or Not, Self-Promotion Can Hurt You

Newsflash: Communities Don't Like to Be Spammed

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[ Social Media]

The interesting thing about online self-promotion is that it can be vital to your success, but can also make you look horrible, tarnish your reputation, and alienate people. There are good ways to promote yourself, and there are bad ways. Some of the bad ways are often looked upon as spam – things like blog comment spam, forum spam, or of course Twitter/Facebook spam come to mind.

As iFroggy’s Patrick O’Keefe said in an interview we did with him at SXSW, it’s just disrespectful to a person’s space or community. "All kinds of online communities have their own form of spam," and people always cross the line, he says.

Note: The above video is from our raw live footage from SXSW, and actually contains 3 separate interviews. O’Keefe’s starts at the 1:07 mark.

O’Keefe also offered a couple of good tips for doing self-promotion right:

1. Look for the best people or most popular people – the people in a community that are already doing it right. Who’s using the forum right? Who’s using Twitter right? Watch and learn. Look at their practices.

2. Look at the guidelines. Online communities will often have terms of service, FAQs or some kind of posted policies. Read them.

If a blogger or forum expresses a policy against links in comments, then don’t insert your link. Chances are that if you do, you’ll look bad to the rest of the community, and that’s not the kind of promotion you want.

Unfortunately, not all communities have readily available policies, but you can still observe how the rest of the community interacts with one another, and most of them aren’t just throwing links around, you should probably acknowledge this and take it as a hint.

I realize that this is common sense to many, but at the same time, many, many people just don’t seem to get it. Either that or they don’t care. But they should care, because if they really want to earn business, this is just not a good way to go about it. They may not realize this kind of behavior is looked upon as spam, but if you’re one of these people, I can assure you it is most certainly looked upon this way.

Believe it or Not, Self-Promotion Can Hurt You
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  • http://serpeo-seo.com Website Design Princeton, NJ

    Whoops, I don

  • http://www.ifroggy.com Patrick

    Thanks for posting this, Chris. It was great to meet you at SXSW.

    The thing about common sense is that it’s only common if you actually have it or realize it and plenty of people don’t due to inexperience.

    Just to comment on the idea of viable self promotion, raised by Bob (with Website Design Princeton, NJ as a username and a URL with SEO in it), it depends. If viable means you’ve investigated the community, read the FAQ, asked the staff to ensure it’s OK, etc., then yeah, absolutely. If viable means that you yourself simply think it’s viable, then no. It can get you in a lot of trouble.

    Thanks again,


    • Chris Crum

      Thanks for weighing in again Patrick. It was great meeting you too. Good point about common sense. Perhaps it’s not as common as we’d like to think.

  • http://wilcomfonts.ning.com/ Nevi

    I would say that perhaps many people today have a fundamental misunderstanding of what ‘ spamming’ is, since maybe 90% or more tend to use what is an essentially ‘ social networking platform’ , as a sudden ‘ business ‘ , then have a fit when someone posts in what is then essentially an open area like a ‘ wall’ or ‘ forum’ .

    I think its essential to understand that the ‘ community ‘ has the power to accept/reject material by simply setting their privacy setting appropriately. If you have done that, nobody can ‘ spam’ you, so what exactly is the big fuss??

    Most of the world is on facebook. How often do you see pages open to anyone to post to?? You probably don’t, because the basics are done. ‘ Privacy ‘ has been set.

    If a forum/community has rules, and guidelines listed, and people overstep those, then a community has a right to be a bit upset. That is a reasonable boundary. One can’t just start up a community, then suddenly start having hissy fits about self promotion, and personal ads, if they have made no rules/terms/conditions regarding that. For instance, I’m on a forum that says ads may be posted on the first day of each month. Thats great..its a rule. You see it when you join etc. so are fully aware.

    In ‘ social networking platforms’ , if you have allowed your wall/forum open to posts, and you have no guidelines regarding that, then you’d have to have a mind reset is you just want to call someone a ‘ spammer’ for posting there. A few simple rules and guidelines is sufficient to operate any community reasonably, so there is no court verified 300 page documentation necessary to cover this aspect. If you have cause to explain, you could always contact the member, and perhaps discuss it. If you have then laid out your ‘ rules’ , and still see it being ignored, then it’s very simple to ‘ ban’ or ‘ suspend’ community members.

    Nowadays, I’d say there are no ‘ spammers’ as such, just ‘ maladministrators’ of communities and forums. The fault is rarely with the poster, but more to do with the admins, and membership itself.

    If you have simply set your privacy options, can anyone ‘ spam ‘ you? Simply, the answer is ”no”, unless someone is at the mercy of filter capability for emails, or something of that nature, but in general, it is now absolutely simple to disallow anyone ‘ posting their wares allover your site’ .

    People are promoting themselves all the time, especially via ‘ social networking platforms’ , so before one calls someone a ‘ spammer ‘ , they should basically take a good look at their community/forum structure.

    As a community/forum admin, you can clearly define your version of ‘ spam ‘ , since yes, the perception of what it is may vary. What is it actually?? ‘ Self Propogating A Mess?” lol

  • http://www.perpetualads.com Perpetualads.com

    This is how I would promote my site. By offering something to the readers. What I would like to offer to you today is a website, not mine, that you can download HD desktop wallpapers for your computers.

    It is http://www.wallbase.net

    brought to you by http://www.perpetualads.com and http://www.bannerjoy.com.

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    Try it out and you’ll be impressed with the HD content.



    • http://www.sciencelives.com ScienceLives

      Umm … I think that would be an example of how NOT to do self-promotion. Unless you were trying to play devil’s advocate. Putting a link to a wallpaper site in a discussion about marketing doesn’t seem at all appropriate or even targeted. However, posting a valid on-topic comment with the link to your web site in the appropriate place (in the field where it asks for your link) would seem the appropriate way to do self-promotion here.

  • http://www.bluestoneacct.com Laura Dodson

    What I consider spam on social networks, is the noise that drowns out the social networking that is supposed to be happening. One of the Linked in groups that I belong to has 30K members. Daily, there are over 100 discussions posted on it. Most of them however belong to the noise category. They are: See my blog/Buy my wonderful product with a link to the appropriate website. Why would I spend my precious time sorting through the noise to find the one or two posts that I might be interested in? This is the problem that is going to eventually drag down the social networking sites. Too much noise, not enough substance.

    • Guest

      It seems like I’m constantly going into the social network settings pages to change what I do and don’t want to be notified of, because there is constantly more crapola being added to the options lists… and twitter is a no brainer… idiots start spamming with a steady stream of their wares for sale, and it’s an instant “block” without so much as a see ya!

  • http://www.googlemetalkradio.com “Digital” Don Hill

    Unfortunately, with the skyrocketing number of people entering the world of online marketing – especially those without adequate training or experience – the number of “spammers” is similarly skyrocketing. Most of the people in this group realize that social media is/are(?) fertile ground for those who know how to “do it right,” but many (if not most) simply don’t know what “right” actually IS.

    I try to explain to “newbie” marketers who come to me for advice that marketing in most social media sites is similar to going to a local high school basketball game. If you burst through the doors shouting about how great your widget is, wearing a sandwich board with your URL on it (with your motto containing misspelled words and poor grammar), and refuse to make eye contact with anyone or listening to what they have to say (which is usually, “Get out of here!”), then you’re not only going to have a VERY unpleasant experience but quite a counter-productive one as well.

    However, if you simply stroll through the doors, sit down in the bleachers, and strike up a conversation with the people surrounding you (non-business in nature), the course of conversation usually comes around to what you do for a living. That’s the time for a quick “elevator pitch” (no more), and if they persist give them a business card and politely tell them that you’re really “off the clock” and you really came to watch the game. If they want to know more about your business, they should give you a call during business hours (or visit your site).

    That can be easily translated to most online social media interactions. While it may seem to be a bit slower, the conversioon rate is much higher and your social status in the social network will increase over time as you develop a “non-aggressive” reputation as a marketer who CARES.

    Effective marketers must learn to be “social chameleons,” adapting themselves and their methods to the social style and atmosphere of the area they’re marketing to. That requires patient observation of what’s actually going on there. Your objective is to be as un-aggressive as possible while establishing real relationships within the community in question. Natural curiosity on the part of your prospects will generally attract the people who have a real interest in your offerings – or at least will result in referrals by those who don’t really have an interest but have gotten to know YOU as a “stand-up” sort of person. At any rate, let the people sort THEMSELVES out – don’t try to do that on your end of the activity.

    Remember – when it comes to marketing ANYWHERE, it’s all PERSONAL!

  • http://www.xosoftware.co.uk/ Bango Carrera

    That really is shameless, but it is amusing.

  • http://www.twothongs.com Bob Monkhouse

    I agree wholeheartedly with this. Links need to have relevance and ought to be appropriate to a page’s content. Google doesn’t rank inapproproate links highly anyway.

  • http://www.artofstorytellingshow.com Storytelling

    I think the mistake people make is that they jump to quickly into the mix or they don’t jump through the required hoops to membership or ownership of the forum or community. You have to be part of the story – part of the conversation and this can be done very quickly – but it has to be done with in the context of the group story – or it is just an interuptions and not really useful too the whole conversation. You have to add something and not just try to change the subject. I mean who really wants to talk to some one who only wants to talk about themselves?

  • http://www.websitetemplates.bz Professional Website Templates.bz

    Thank you for these ideas!

    Indeed, this is a very valuable article.
    I used to have a few friends here, who are into some kind of business now.
    So they promote their business among their friends, and thus destroy relations profoundly(

    Guys, never promote yourslef amnong those who know you as a person, but not as Business….

  • http://www.ph-creative.com Matt

    The key is relevance. If it’s relevant then it’s ok because it’s providing even more useful content to a page and its’ readers.

    For example, I often add my Facebook page to a comment as long as it’s providing something useful tot he readers.


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