Marketing Tip: Don't Be Creepy

There are many ways to market your business. Some are in-your-face and others subtle... and then there are the ones that are downright creepy.

Humans are hardwired for creepiness. Hearing extra footsteps following you down a deserted path is creepy. Seeing the same stranger constantly popping up near you is creepy. Someone repeating seemingly random actions over and over is creepy.

We know creepiness when we see it or experience it. Yet somehow, when it comes to marketing, some businesses forget the creep factor and wonder why they are not getting results.

Here are just a handful of creep-fests that you may want to avoid in your online marketing.

1. Facebook or social media stalking

If you are looking to build your social media following in your local area, it may seem like a great idea to find someone local, and then send friend requests to everyone who follows them - right? Wrong. It's creepy.

A business decided that they wanted more local friends on Facebook and they outsourced their social media to a third person. That person sent friend requests out on behalf of the owner to many of my friends. Result? My 15 year old daughter received a friend request from a middle aged guy she didn't know. The owner, when contacted (luckily I knew him), was mortified that he was now perceived as a potential paedophile and not a respectable business.

2. Digital Repetition

Want to become more visible in local searches? Just create hundreds of pages with identical content, but only change the name of the town. So you have a page all about Plumbers West End and another about Plumbers The Gap and another about Plumbers Strathpine. Brilliant? Wrong. It's known by the name "Madlib Spam".

It is heading into dangerous SEO territory, and the problem with these sorts of techniques is that although they may give you a quick high in the search engines, they also have a nasty habit of crashing and burning. Google takes a very dim view of duplicate content and people who try to game the system. Penalties can range from simply not indexing any bar one of your Madlib Spam pages through to sending your entire site to digital Siberia.

If you think about it from a human perspective - if you have someone next to you saying the same thing over and over and over - but only changing the one word each repetition, you would consider it creepy. Google thinks it is creepy too.

3. Random Comments

Another way to increase your website rankings is to pop in on hundreds of blogs and websites around the net, and leave random comments at the end of each post - all with a link back to your site. Genius? Think again.

Imagine for a moment you are walking down the street and "drop in" on every person you pass who is talking to someone else. Without listening or understanding the conversation, you randomly say "Rhinoceros", or "I want shoes like yours. Where did you get them?" You can expect more than the odd look. Generally people will think you a pest and tell you to go away (or they will just find you creepy and take great pains to avoid you). These sorts of comments will not have people racing towards you to buy your services.

The online world is the same. Adding value to quality conversations is great for your reputation. Dropping spam comments on random conversations is creepy and damages your reputation.

Many business websites are now finding that the cheap SEO company they outsourced their work to, used a random comment (or link spam) process to generate links and their website has now been penalised by Google. The business owners now have to work with reputable SEO companies to send out thousands of requests to sites around the world to have these spam links removed. Cheap has definitely turned into creepy and nasty.

Bottom line with your marketing - if it is creepy in real life, it is creepy online.

The other lesson is that it pays to have a thorough chat with anyone you outsource your marketing to, to find out exactly what they will be doing to represent you in the online world. And if your skin gets the creeps when they are talking through their process, you may want to rethink who you have selected.

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