The following is a post by Wendy Irving of the blog, After The Kids Leave. Wendy is the sister of our Smarter Shift Social Media Advisor & Managing Editor Karen Irving. The two sisters created the blog (which has gained a strong following in a very short time) to share tips and insights about life in an empty nest. But as seasoned bloggers now, their insights also speak to content marketers. This post presented such a pointed and humorous lesson about interacting online we just had to share it.
Today I received an email from a cyber-friend, who was upset because he felt he was being bullied by a fellow member of a site we’re on.
My friend, whom I shall call Oswald, joined a Facebook group I’m also in and every time someone puts up a photo or makes a comment, he’s in like Flynn, giving us all his two cents’ worth.
At first, he would simply say “wow, that’s interesting, I remember that from my youth”, or something similar.
After a while, I started noticing he’d up the ante by commenting, “wow, that’s interesting, I remember that and will be including it in my book, which I wrote in 4 weeks last year and plan on publishing and selling this autumn in time for Christmas; it will not be sold for profit but will benefit certain charities worldwide”.
Aside from thinking he was delusional if he thought he’d ever make that kind of money off a vanity production, I was also taken aback by his back-handed and obvious self-promotion.
I’m a member of 5 or 6 sites and on all of them, advertising of any sort is a strong no-no. Even a hint of “I went to my mother’s restaurant (Mama’s Kitchen, gotta try it, yo!) and had an amazing time with my friends” isn’t allowed.
But Oswald started including anecdotes from the book, in his comments.
People noticed. It was hard not to.
Eventually, they started to snap. One woman said she wouldn’t read his book even if she were set on fire and the only way to get the fire department to come was by reading a chapter. Ouch.
Another person said that she doubted his stories were accurate and skirted awfully close to calling him a liar on some points.
Unfortunately, my friend retaliated in a childish, schoolyard manner. It’s hard to get the administrator of a page to feel sympathy for you if you’re calling your tormentors equal, if not worse names.
In the meantime, he was PMing me, saying that the 2 women had been mean to him.
These two women haven’t even read his book, and they’re determined they never will. Not only that, they’re never going to give it as a gift and they fully plan on trash-talking it as much as they can whenever the title is mentioned in their presence.
You told me once that the Internet is not about self-promotion but about relationships. It’s important to represent yourself and your brand, but there’s a fine line between self-promotion and being that unbearable bore who only talks about his/her product.
Never have I seen your warning more fully demonstrated than in this situation.
I’ve had the chance to promote our blog on the different sites where I’m a member but it just doesn’t feel right to do that. Some might say I’m a lousy publicist and perhaps I am? I tend to think, if people want to know more about me, they’ll ask and I’ll happily tell, when and if the time is right.
There are times when I wish I were more pushy about our blog, but I’m not. I love that we have readers who come to us every day and I also love that we have readers who pop in occasionally. I don’t want to force them to visit, and I certainly don’t want them comparing reading our blog to being set on fire.
Poor Oswald. His intentions are good, I truly believe that. His methods are screwy, though, and they’re hurting his book even before it hits the printing press.
Years ago I was told that it takes 2 ears to listen and 1 mouth to talk, so let’s listen twice as much as we talk. If we translate that to chat-sites online, I’d suggest we make comments on other peoples’ posts twice as often as we talk about the wonder that is us.
To do otherwise is to lose the good will of potential customers, and also, sadly, people we think of as good friends.
Originally published at http://afterthekidsleave.com/2013/09/03/a-tale-of-danger-and-warning/