When are links really Spam? Falling forward on Gods of Advertising!

September 23, 2009

Links or spam?

File this next report under living and learning on the Internet. I have been blogging for about two years. Like most of us, I jumped in the pool headfirst. I’d been talking social media to my clients for years and it was high time I walked the walk. Having run websites for my novels, I assumed blogging as a logical extension. I figured I could swim as well as the next guy. Besides, I’m a big believer in on the job training. It was time.

Two years in, I couldn’t be happier. Gods of Advertising has changed my life. It keeps me writing. It keeps me informed. It keeps me relevant. It also provides its share of “teachable moments.” I’ve willingly shared my foibles with you because not only do I believe in transparency whenever possible but I also want my readers to learn from my mistakes. It’s the least I can do for all the insight and wisdom you’ve provided me!

So here’s the latest…

A few days ago I was called out for linking my blog in the comments section of various other blogs. The reader, “Ponce” accurately noted that I’d left more than one similarly phrased remark across numerous advertising blogs, pasting the same Gods of Advertising story in all of them. Ponce called it spamming.

Spamming. That’s like a felony in the blogoshere! If I was guilty, I needed to fix this ASAP. My credibility and piece of mind were at stake. I certainly had linked my site in other site’s comment sections. My reasoning was that since their stories related to mine it was okay.

That said I also had a hunch I was being naughty. Like many creative people, I am an egomaniac with an inferiority complex. As I’ve already learned, with regard to promoting my novels, any form of self-promotion is asking for trouble. When Ponce called me out I instantly got that queasy feeling in my gut, kind of like when I was busted for shoplifting in grade school. Instead of defending myself or issuing a denial (what I wanted to do) I intended to face the thing, own it and then fix it. Writing this piece is part of that process.

I decided to ask a few experts for their opinions on the matter. With much gratitude, I offer you their sage advice…

From Alan Wolk of The Toad Stool: It’s never good form to leave a link back to your own blog unless you write a fairly detailed response that contributes to the conversation. It’s also not good form to leave any sort of link on a blog to which you’re not a frequent contributor or friend of the blogger.

It’s okay, in the course of a comment to mention that you’ve done a post on the topic on your own blog and to provide the blog’s name, but you should not make it look like you’re trying to get people to go to your blog. Give the reader the option of going to read the longer version on your blog but don’t make it sound like a blatant sales pitch: you want to contribute to the conversation on the current blog, not siphon away readers.

From David Burn of Adpulp: I don’t know that I’d say it’s Spam, but you do want to be careful about over promoting yourself. For instance, when you leave a comment on AdPulp, it’s almost always a redirect to your site, with or without an actual link. I’d recommend mixing it up a bit. Comment just to comment, then come back and redirect, so there’s some balance.

From Hugh Mcleod of Gaping Void: As long as what you’re linking to is relevant to the conversation, I don’t consider it spamming. But some folk are fussy and passive aggressive.

The area would appear to be gray. It appears one has to rely on their own good judgment. While blogging (or doing many things really) if I get that queasy feeling in my gut it probably means I should reconsider my actions. What do you think, Gentle (or not so gentle) Reader?

Spam my Twitter!


6 Responses to “When are links really Spam? Falling forward on Gods of Advertising!”

  1. Agree with the 3 opinions above. I very rarely leave a comment with a link because I don’t want to be that guy. Most commenting setups ask for your website so if the reader is interested in finding out more about you and your stuff, they will click through. Obviously, commenting is trickier when you are clearly selling something and it doesn’t surprise me someone caught on right away.

    Please refrain from commenting on blogs again until Ponce gives you the OK. Just kidding – it’s all very similar to real life networking, phone calls, etc…there is no easy answer to increasing site traffic, twitter followers, or book sales.

    One example: I became a big fan of Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) and his work before his book deal but decided to unfollow him a while back because he started promoting his book full-time. He earned the trust of many people before that by caring and being passionate so most people won’t care. But, I still think maintaining the right balance at all times is important. I know for sure before the book deal, he would have showed up within 2 days to respond to this comment. Let’s see if things have changed..

  2. SRP said

    Terrific comment, Johnny…
    Because I do it myself, maintaining a blog boosts my ego. Because it’s part of the social web I am necessarily humbled. Separating myself from myself is harder than I thought! Hopefully, I’m “falling forward.”

  3. David Burn said

    Gary V. is busy, but I’m showing up on his behalf.

    Gary V’s whole thing is self-promotion, but he does it artfully, which is also a key consideration. Because he entertains whilst shilling, it tends to be okay with his fans/audience.

  4. Hi David. I definitely agree that’s he entertaining and also inspiring – I’ve watched most of his talks online. And I will still be checking out the book regardless of my feelings on his promotion for it.

  5. SRP said

    Gary V seems like a hoot. Too bad I don’t drink vino anymore!

  6. Mike from Arc said

    I’ve got a great post about this very topic on my blog:


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