Friday, April 1, 2011

Day 14 - A Commentary on Networking - or - Don't Be a Douche

While this blog might be about my first self-publishing adventure, this isn’t my maiden voyage when it comes to social media and just general online activity. And so it is that, as I make my way into the online networks that are important for anyone wanting to market a product or service (like a self-published book), I see people doing some just plain horrible marketing. When I started this blog, I expected that I would be blogging about my experiences working with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and HubPages along with my own website when it comes along (will be wrestling with that this weekend) and whatever else I find. I expected to be learning stuff and sharing. I didn’t expect I’d be giving pointers so soon. But I am going to. Here goes:

Don’t be a douche.

Don’t go to a website, sign up for your account and then hit the forums with posts like, “Hi. My name is Blah-blah and I’m writing a blog about my new book. Come have a look.”

If that is your first post, you are well on your way to being a douche. Now there are some places that have forums that ask you to do just that. And that’s great. Go for it. I know I certainly do. But you have to do more than that. You have to give something. If you are really only going to a site to promote your books or whatever, you are not giving. You are taking. If your only purpose is to show up and fake some interest for the reasons of linking to your stuff, then you are being a douche.

On LinkedIn for example, I’ve joined some groups and see people asking questions to start forum threads, stuff like: “What’s the right way to do XYZ?” and “What do you think about such-and-such technique?” On the surface, those look perfectly fine. But when you see the same person asking the same exact question on every similar forum and in every similar group, and there is a link to their stuff on every single post, you can’t help but suspect you might be dealing with a douche.

Look, nobody is fooling anyone. We all want to sell our stuff. I mean, duh, right? But here’s a little secret I’ve picked up during my twenty-five years in sales and marketing: People don’t buy from assholes.

So, you have to give. You have to join communities with, at the very least, a genuine intention of giving something to the community. This means, don’t join communities you don’t think have value to you. For me, I’ve found a writing group on LinkedIn that, as I said above, has some really smart, smart people talking about stuff and GIVING UP GREAT IDEAS… for free!  They’re giving advice. Good advice. Interesting advice. Advice I can verify. Stuff I didn't know before but will really, really be happy to know as I do this self-publishing thing.

So, by picking a community that has people like that, I get something. Something besides people to scream my links at over and over hoping for some reason they’ll decide my link is somehow going to take them to something better than any of the other nine thousand links they see every day.

Now that doesn’t mean I don’t want them to check out my links. I do. But to do that, I have to earn their interest. Which means, I have to be genuine. I have to participate. For real. Not just faking it, coughing up crap that looks like engagement, but actually taking time to read people’s posts and think about them (people love it when you listen to them). Then, if I come across something that I have particular knowledge on, I can take the time to reply. I can give what I have to the community. For me, it’s writing advice; I’m full of lots of verby/nouny writer crap. It’s what I know, and I’m decent at it, so why not share?  I can offer sales tips, some marketing experience too. So, I do. Hopefully some of it will help someone else in the kind of way I am learning cool stuff from them—"them" being the people giving for real too—them being the people whose links I will (and have) checked out.

And being real isn’t just true on forum type engagement like I’m talking about with LinkedIn and of the sort I see on HubPages too. So here’s another big tip for  you about social media, especially Facebook: your page should be about THEM, not you.

Now that probably sounds counterintuitive, since your Facebook page is, well, yours. But the thing is, you have to make your social media page be interesting to THEM. Hearing about your crap all the time isn’t that interesting. I’ll even use myself as an example for both doing it right and wrong.  Here’s a screen shot from my Shadesbreath page, take a look before reading on, particularly the stuff with the red arrows:

Alright, look at the top half of that. Do you see the 376 impressions and the 4.26% feedback? Plus, it has 14 comments and 2 likes. Now look at what it is, what the post is about. It is a question I asked about THEM, my readers. I asked something about them, and they got involved on my page. That’s good stuff. And what’s important from a marketing standpoint is that Facebook pages show up (or not) in other people’s feeds with frequency that is affected by reader engagement.

Which leads me to the bottom part of that same screen shot. Look at my second post. That is a post about me. It’s me being a marketing whore and trying to get people to come read MY STUFF. Look at how effective that was. A big fat goose egg for feedback and only 90 impressions. That means not even all of the people that have liked my page got that post sent to their feeds. That is NOT good marketing. And that is my fault for being too much about ME and not enough about THEM. I didn’t deserve readers for that post because I was being too much of a marketer <cough>douche<cough> and not taking time to have fun, genuine fun, with people via my page. And more importantly, via their pages.

So anyway, the point of this blog entry today is just one of sincerity. We all want to sell our crap. And there is nothing wrong with that. But we can’t expect to just jump in and talk about ourselves. Nobody cares. People only care about people they like. And people like people who deserve to be liked. You get what you give, you know?


  1. Hmmmm. Point taken. That's actually one of the things I admire about you. Lead on, wise one.


  2. "Follow me," cried Sergeant Lemming! "We got this!"


    "Well, at least one of us appears to know what's over the edge of that cliff."

  4. You hit on a basic truth here. What engages people is what they can personally relate to. As altruistic and compassionate and giving as we like to think we are, we really only respond to something because it touches a true part of ourselves and satisfies a personal need, desire, or curiosity. (For example, I guess I related to this blog post. :-)

  5. I wish there was a polite way to direct people to this post. I know some bloggers that need to know this basic truth--incessant self promotion online equals reader boredom and a diminishing number of readers.

  6. @ Michele. I got not clue what's over there, but I do love the rush of wind in my hair. :D

    @ Candace: I've often wondered if there really is anything that isn't ultimately selfish. Think about our most selfless acts: imagine how you would run into a burning building to rescue your children... but is that selfless? Are you doing it for them or because YOU couldn't bear to live without them? I don't have the answer, but it makes me think sometimes. The other day at dinner I asked my wife if it is better to be good or act good. The principle being that I think she IS a good person, like, she just is. She's thoughtful, generous, and does things for others all the time just out of reflex. Me, on the other hand, would much rather do my own stuff than go do, whatever, for someone else. So when I do nice stuff, I have to make myself do it. So, imagine my wife and me out doing something nice for someone else. Who is the better person, her or me? She's there because she wants to be; I'm there because I know I should be. I think its her, but she made some interesting arguments about rising above oneself too, so, dunno. Was interesting to think about though.

    @ GladysKravitz: Well, if you have a real marketing douche on your hands, tell him you found a free link exchange he should read, and link to this. :) You can say it real polite, and you don't have to feel bad about lying because, well, it's not a sin to lie to a douche.

  7. I'll follow just because I live for a good rush of just about

  8. I love your "Don't be a Douche" logo. I snorted Pepsi out my nose when I saw it.

    You could definitely sell that on t-shirts and coffee mugs.