Online Marketing – The Art of being Subtle

When you start your car in the morning you know from the sound in the first few seconds whether there’s something wrong with it or not. When you’re driving it you can tell if something is wrong with a tyre by the feel from the car as it moves. These things are probably too subtle for someone that doesn’t drive your car. They’ll know the ways of their own car, not yours.

It’s being able to feel those subtle things that separates the amateur from the experienced person and it’s subtley that’s needed when you’re trying to market to people online, on social networks and everywhere else where the flocks are a a-flocking to these days. It comes as no surprise that the Web 2.0 consultants of last year, who previous to this were probably mobile web consultants and wap consultants are now telling companies how to market to the Facebook generation without getting the feel of them. They’re now rebranding themselves as social media consultants by the way though they’re fecked if they can actually explain it without using buzzwords.

Face your friends with beautifully clear skin
Photo owned by Uh รขโ‚ฌยฆ Bob (cc)

Chris Brogan is a great “brand”, he writes some great stuff but his latest blog post has led me to unsubscribe from him. In it he gives nine ways to promote your blog posts. 9 ways of pissing off people to varying degrees. Oldschool marketing at its very worst. Quantity not quality. Engagement does not mean harassing. It’s online chugging.

Automated Twitter posts when you create a new blog post, FriendFeed silo crapola, LinkedIn status changes advertising a new blog post etc. The one that’s truly insidious is where he says leave “constructive comments” on blog posts that are relevant to your own post and change your website address to be the one of your blog post.

find a recent blog post that has related information. (Now, this is different than what you MIGHT normally do, so pay attention). In the URL part of the sign-up form, put the link to your post, not your blog in general.

A slightly better version of what this joker has been trying. Most blogging platforms don’t have a field for “Blog Post you wish to pimp to readers of this blog” but they do have Website Address, how utterly rude and ignorant to use it to pimp a blog post.

It’s like this. If you have to go and track down blog posts that fit into the same bracket as your latest blog post then you shouldn’t be commenting on those posts should you? If you don’t happen across them or are already subbed to these blogs then you’re just a manual version of the blog spam robots out there. You leave comments on blogs to add to the conversation, not hijack it.

He also suggests “Stumbling” your own posts on Stumbleupon but points out this is rude so go off and stumble a few non-you blog posts and sites and then Stumble your own. Totally against the open philosophy of Stumbleupon and other services. Why not just say “in a conversation about yadda, only whore your business once in every ten sentences”. Sneaky social selling.

This advice is on a par with people that sell links from their blogs or write sham reviews for pay per post or linkbait 15 other bloggers in a post to get adulation or rewrite someone else’s work and tart it up as an ebook which you’ll only receive once you sign up to their newsletter. Big massive, super, extra bonus FAIL.

Cpatain Fail
Photo owned by pinguino (cc)

These gobshites that are all about quantity.

There’s far too many snakeoil salespeople acting as social media consultants that haven’t one iota of how people interact online because they don’t do it themselves. What they do instead is come online, blog themselves up, leave comments going back to blog posts they’re written, tie their blog posts into Twitter and spam people they’ve added there, do the same on Facebook. They don’t interact or engage.

Online marketing does not = Finding New Online Gathering Places + Old Skool Marketing to them
There is no real interaction, there is no hanging around and experiencing the flow of a system. It’s the person that goes “Hi how are you? Great, now let’s talk about hamburgers, do you like hamburgers, well let me show you a new way of cooking them.” You’re a mark to them, you’re a target, you’re a mole that needs to be whacked over the head. They don’t care how you are, the question is just an in to your attention.

Rules and Balance
Then comes a backlash from this bad marketing and businesses think you can’t talk yourself up in these new spaces or self-promote. You can. But there’s a balance or rather an imbalance. People in these spaces act differently. Like every local bar has its own ways and etiquetteso do onlin audiences and like bar to bar it varies from online space to online space. People don’t mind you automating your blog posts in Twitter (well most don’t) once your account is not all about the blog posts and nothing else. You need a mixture. More interactions and less automations but you can have both. Even without automations, letting us know about every blog post you wrote isn’t very nice is it? If your blog is good, we’d be subbed already right?

Recently a company with a blog spammed bloggers via email about something that really was not relevant. The reaction was “but we’re bloggers too” and it wasn’t arrogance it was ignorance. Never was it thought “if we were good bloggers we wouldn’t need to send this by email, we’ve have stuck it on the blog which is well read (since we’re good bloggers) and it would have been picked up and redistributed from there.” While it can be good for discipline, boxes to tick can ruin the fun. Twitter check. Followers check. Arsekissing comments to build rapport and get followers back, check. Spammed followers about eBusiness newsletter, check.

It may seem like more work to start with but if you want to market online in 2008 either spend the time to learn the subtleties or hire crowds that do. Maybe ask those social media folks for links to their Facebook, Twitter, Blog etc and see how they’re using them.

11 Responses to “Online Marketing – The Art of being Subtle”

  1. Mike says:

    Totally agree Damien.
    Blogging is about engagement and ultimitely gaining respect and trust.
    I reallly get pissed off with people thinking they can pimp a blog post and that theres nothing wrong with it

  2. MJ says:

    A learning experience, as always Mr Mulley. Followed your link to the joker’s site, read the comments.

    Look what I just had to look up: just in cases ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thought I would share the link with anyone else who cares to edumacate themselves.

    *shakes ever so slightly in the corner in case she’s been getting anything wrong…*

  3. karl deeter says:

    i think sometimes a popular blog is not easily defined, much the same as music, we know what we like but can’t say it follows a certain ‘formula’.

    some people just have to accept their blog sucks (i have personally crossed that rubicon and am a happier blogger for it) or that it will only ever have a niche readership.

    People (most of em’) are not morons and they know when they are being marketed too which kind of defeats a large portion of what blogging is about.

    agree with MJ, people need edumacation

  4. smemon says:

    That thing – that’s not on… that’s crossing the line.

    But there’s a huge difference between that and leaving a comment on someone’s blog. Even if it is spam-type comment designed just to gain traffic, how does the owner know that? You can’t tell what someone is thinking when they write comment… for all you know this comment could be automated or i could have copied pasted it from another blog or something…

    Does the owner just lock down comments all together?

    Also, have to disagree on the whole ‘making money from a blog is evil’ thing. If a blogger writes solely for cash or gives up when they learn they can’t make money overnight – that’s a problem… that’s not good… that’s not a real blogger.

    But if you have people who will blog regardless of whether they make money or not – you can’t put them in the same bracket.

    Blogs are not all just personal diaries – those days are long dead. In some cases, they are full time jobs and successful businesses and it’s a bit like kids and footballers – they all want to be footballers because they see the glamour, hype and money flying about. 99% won’t make it – but you don’t tell them they’re shite or they’ll never make it or what they’re doing is stupid etc…

    You could destroy the confidence and dreams of one gem of a kid who had the potential to make it big but because of bullying or people telling them they’d get nowhere they end up nowhere.

  5. Damien says:

    It’s the Pay Per Post kid! Hello!

    Found any fag butts on the street you can get an extra toke or two from?

  6. smemon says:

    don’t smoke – my PPP earnings can’t cover the cost :mrgreen:

    gotta love the way you encourage debate and comments then try to chop them down with a one liner – the irish way of doing things ๐Ÿ˜Ž

  7. Damien says:

    Way to generalise a whole race there. Your record rewards you with nothing more the minimum amount of my time. I’ll happily engage with people that don’t take money to lie online though.

  8. That was a excellent blog entry if I must say so! Professionals hardly still think like this do they? I must add that I have unsubscribed from a lot of blogs because the blogger was too active, with several entries a day, with none being particularly interesting. If I miss even 3 days though my feed reader is giving me the dreadful “All Items – 1000+” though! Perhaps I’m missing out, but I don’t have all day for reading feeds!

  9. smemon says:

    @damien there’s a difference between ‘lie’ and ‘review’ – i’ve never lied online… not suggesting i do it offline btw!

    I’ll quite often review a site without payment and rarely will i attack any site or blogger without very good reason – it doesn’t benefit anyone only the site you’re blogging about unless of course it’s linkbait tactics designed to provoke a reaction… had you not posted about chris brogan, i would never have found his blog.

    I agree with all his points bar 3 and 4. Regarding twitter/stumbling/digging etc… your own work i see nothing wrong with it provided you’re an active member there – active meaning you use the site on a daily basis.

    I rely on twitter auto posts to read many blogs as my RSS reader is crammed full with stuff that gets burried. If i get a shout on digg i might check it out if i happen to be on the site… i don’t mind that… it’s not as if anyone is selling anything to me or begging.

    Yeah there’s clowns who take it to the extreme, sign up with multiple accounts on different networks and just spam the hell out of everyone but they’re found out eventually. When they are, that’s what the unsubscribe or ‘x’ buttons are for.

  10. Damien says:

    I guess we have different views of what lieing and dishonesty are. Each to their own

  11. smemon says:

    fair enough, i know where you’re coming from but i guess i’ve a more relaxed attitude towards this sort of stuff…

    we really need a site like dedicated to blogging and to form a code of ethics out of it… that way we’re all on a level playing surface with the same rules :mrgreen: