Self-Promotion Spam

Marketing is a double edged sword.  I bet you thought I’d say it was an art or a science.  For most people, it’s a necessary evil.  You have to market to get people to buy your stuff or use your services or support your cause.  Don’t do it enough and the phones stop ringing.  Too much and the exact same thing can happen.  I myself can become quite irritated when, outside of my work, I get over-marketed by someone.

Example: when I run into a store, the last thing I want to do is answer a ton of questions upon checkout.  “What’s your zipcode?  Your phone number?  How did you hear about us?”  This usually before they have even begun to scan into the register whatever it is I’m trying to buy, and all because someone, somewhere, decided that it was a worthwhile exercise to annoy some people as long as some other people went ahead and gave them the information they were looking for.  But is it worth it?

I have a pretty decent online presence between my websites, podcasts, twitter and facebook.  As such, I tend to get a lot of PR emails and comments.  This week, I received enough to prompt this blog post about Self-Promotion Spam.

The emails were all form PR releases with a “Hey check out my cool new blah blah…” sort of thing with links and whatnotall.  Two PR comments were left on another site of mine, which happens from time to time, but they were left on a static page and not a specific post and were the same kind of me-me-me thing as I received in my inbox.  Then, to top it all off, I had someone mention me in a tweet along with four other people saying, “My new book is out, buy it here: <link>”. Clicking to view that persons account opened up to a twitter stream full of similar tweets, all tagging four different people each time.  Sadly, there was no interactions or personal tweets from the user that would have let me know them.

What do these things have in common?  First, no personalization or attempt to connect with the audience – in this case, me.  Just a form letter fill in the blanks and blast it out sort of thing.  This falls into the check-out example I started the post with, where you cast as wide a net as possible without any regard for who your audience is or might be, and then cross your fingers and hope the number of people who respond is larger than the number you annoy.  In my opinion, too many people and companies do this and consider it a worthwhile endeavor and use of their time and marketing dollars.

Second, it was all me-me-me.  Self-Promotion Spam, a sad new trend in social marketing.  Of course the goal is to build your audience or sell your wares, but if that’s all you ever do, you won’t win yourself any fans.  Especially when it’s your first communication, as these were with me.  Ask yourself which would be more effective with you, a personal message of introduction maybe with a compliment, “Hey, I enjoy the blog and really appreciate what you do.”, or a cold call form letter asking you to buy something?

Last, in each instance, I tuned them out.  I deleted the emails.  Deleted the website comments.  Ignored the twitter account.  Now that door is closed to them.  I do a lot of promotion for other people on the podcasts, websites and social media accounts I have.  I’m happy to do so because these people have taken an interest in me and often reciprocate when I have something to promote.  It’s a sort of social currency, and something marketers need to think about, especially in today’s social media environment.