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Shameless Self-Promotion?

August 23, 2010

So I have been promoting my blog a lot since I made my last move. I just didn’t want to accept the inevitable drop in readership and then wait for it to lurch back up. Plus, I made a private goal for myself to get up to 1000 subscribers by the end of the summer. (Which, by the way, I have fallen very short of.)

There are a few things that I have done to promote myself, but nothing as shameless (or I guess you could say shameful) as what I’ve been doing on Facebook. I have been requesting friendships with everyone that Facebook recommends. People I have never heard of let alone met in real life.

And you know what’s amazing? Most of them approve the friend request! So, that’s step one of the shameless self-promotion on Facebook. Step two is me going to a person’s wall and posting a message to this effect:

“Hey, (new friend)! Do you read my blog? I’m trying to figure out which posts are the best so that I can adapt them into personal essays to submit to graduate schools and literary journals. I’m asking everyone for help! I’d really appreciate it if you would take a look for me.”

Then I attach a link to my blog.

It’s a true statement, and granted it’s probably annoying for some people. But it has been working. On the days that I have done this my numbers have skyrocketed and according to WordPress Facebook is where they are coming from. So it must not be that annoying. (Unfortunately, very few people have actually told me which posts they think are best, so I’m still going to have to figure out which ones to submit all on my own.)

Anyway, today I got an e-mail from a Facebook friend I have actually met in person. We aren’t tight or anything, but he’s a guy that I like and he’s a fun Facebook friend. Here’s what he said:

“Hey Crystal, I understand that you’re trying to make your blog better, but you shouldn’t copy and paste the same message to everyone that becomes your friend. Considering that I know the last 3 people who you’ve sent messages to and I see the same message going out to each of them, I’m sure that a lot of folks are seeing the same thing. When you put out the same thing to everyone, it makes your message seem less sincere.

Just a thought.”

Okay, it’s official — it’s shameful self-promotion.

I’m embarrassed by his response, but I’m also kind of pissed. I do sincerely want help and I specifically said I was asking EVERYONE for help. Why is the message less sincere when sent to more people? That’s silly to me. And I let him know that I felt that way — sort of:

“I appreciate you letting me know — and I’m sorry if you found it insincere. But I do sincerely want feedback from everyone who is willing to give it. If your friends mention anything to you or are offended, please let them know that I do want their feedback. And yours too.”

What do you all think? Is a message of this sort less sincere the more it is repeated? I mean I can completely understand how some messages can be less sincere with more repetition (like marriage proposals for example) but there are certainly messages that become more sincere with each repetition and I would classify any sort of entreaty for assistance as one of the latter.

29 Comments leave one →
  1. August 23, 2010 10:13 am

    This is something that I’ve wrestled with for some time. The bottom line is that people are naturally resistant to unsolicited marketing, so even if you’re sincere in your request for feedback… well, people don’t give a shit. They’re going to be more annoyed.

    Either way, it’s better to build a small base of dedicated fans than a large base of half-hearted followers who only signed up because you pestered them into doing so.

    If you want some great tips on how to increase your exposure, check out “The New Rules of Marketing and PR,” by David Meerman Scott.


    • August 23, 2010 10:17 am

      Thanks, Dennis. I do want devoted followers not people who felt pestered into reading my blog. But, it was working! Aw well. Mostly my buddy who called me out damaged my pride by suggesting I was being insincere. That’s the part I have to really deal with.


  2. August 23, 2010 11:03 am

    Crystal, people dislike such self-promotion, like how we all dislike Viagra-spam in our inboxes. Maybe you should just post links to your blog on facebook. If they are really interested in helping you out, then they’ll read that link. If you send out messages to everyone, they’ll feel badgered.

    Or, you could send private e-mails 🙂


    • August 23, 2010 11:05 am

      I do post links. But I must say I don’t see the difference between sending an e-mail to someone and posting to their wall.


  3. Anubis permalink
    August 23, 2010 3:31 pm

    Crystal, I agree that Americans have been conditioned to hate mass mailings. We have been flooded with mail saying “you won” or “special offer” or “you have been specially selected”. So we feel less inclined when we know that everyone is getting the same email.

    But, I don’t agree that it makes your request any less personal. You are not mass mailing this request out to random people, you are sending it to friends on Facebook. You may not know them, but they accepted your friend request, for whatever reason. You are also not telling them that you have specially selected them for their opinion. You are simply asking for help. Not sure how that would be considered insincere.

    If this is concerning you, you may wish to try individual emails, as Mr. Rahman suggested. Since this cannot be seen by everyone, it may seem more personal. Another option might be to post a specific blog entry that you personally enjoy, and ask for feedback. The end line could be “If you enjoyed this, let me know. And check out my blog (link here) for more!”

    Hope this helps.


    • August 23, 2010 3:42 pm

      Thanks. I guess personal e-mails are going to have to be the way to go. You know, if I continue with this endeavor.


  4. Ghetto_Philosopher permalink
    August 23, 2010 3:41 pm

    Hey Crystal,
    I can see both sides. All you’re trying to do is get exposure for yourself and there is nothing insincere or wrong there. However, when you ask someone for their opinion, it makes them feel special. They feel like you actually care about what they have to say and they have that personal relationship with you. It is a very intimate thing. When they find out that you’re asking everyone else too, it’s as if they don’t matter as much to you. This is not true of course but one solution would be making each request personal in some way. It makes it appear as though you put in the extra effort. Personally, I think that your goal of 1,000 subscribers being made public on facebook would have helped. That way, each person knows there are 999 other potential subscribers and you’re not just trying to get their opinion.


    • August 23, 2010 3:49 pm

      Well, the message I posted for people said specifically “I’m asking everyone.” But I do genuinely want the opinions of the people I asked. Also, I did put my subscription goal in some of the posts — but that made the post really long.


      • Ghetto_Philosopher permalink
        August 23, 2010 3:55 pm

        Then I have no clue what the problem is. You specifically said you were asking everyone so you’re allowed to ask everyone. I guess he just didn’t like your methods though I fail to see the problem there.


  5. Rhiella permalink
    August 24, 2010 1:32 am

    To be honest I agree with the guy that emailed you. More than anything it’s just annoying to have people spamming your wall and all your mates walls. I ONLY ever accept people on facebook that I know AND like- I have 58 friends because I know 100s of people but I wouldn’t stop and chat to them if I saw them. If someone I had as a friend was posting a message on my wall and it was clogging up my news feed with the same message to everyone else they are straight on their way to deleted!

    I post my link on facebook but I never send it round to people or post it to their walls. And it does seem a little insincere as you don’t actually care who’s reading you just want everyone to.

    But if its keeping your stats up, and stats are all your concerned about then I wouldn’t worry. Not everyone is going to agree with you and your methods all the time in life. Although I would think that a lot of people click on the link left on their wall out of curiosity and then don’t go any further. These people don’t know you so chances are they’re not reading into it as much as you want them to. But if it’s working then don’t worry about what people say. If people express the fact they don’t like it then obviously don’t post it to them again lol!

    My advice personally would be to actually get to know people, post the link on your facebook and tell your friends about it. Get people who know and care about you to read it as they’re the ones who are going to actually read it and give you the feedback you require. Join pages/groups on facebook about a cause you are interested in and post the link on the group wall. For example I’ve joined loads of ex-pat and Malta fan pages and groups and will post a message on the wall occasionally asking people about their experiences and linking my blog. Then people who are actually interested will come along and tell you what they think 🙂


    • August 24, 2010 8:31 am

      I’m not spamming walls. I’m putting a comment on a person’s wall after they have either accepted a friend request from me or I have accepted one from them. These people accepted my friend request or asked to be my friend (which means they aren’t like you to start with. And honestly, you sound like a Facebook snob.) Furthermore, stats aren’t all I’m concerned about — if you read my WHOLE post you would know that. I really do want people’s opinions of my blog posts. I really am trying to pick the best ones.

      I have actually gained a lot of loyal followers, in part, by this method. People who come back every day to see if theres a new post. Although I wish they would just subscribe!


  6. dmarcogliese95 permalink
    August 24, 2010 3:25 am


    You know I have my Photography blog running…and I did and still do the same thing on Facebook. It seems to work great, and I have people that even ask me if any new pictures are up. I do not exactly ask the people personally but would make a post on my personal profile and get lots of hits, then they tell their people, and people view more more. It is truly a good way to promote yourself.

    Diego – Dmarcogliese Photography


  7. August 24, 2010 7:47 am

    Well in my personal opinion, and most of it agrees with what Ghetto_Philosopher wrote, people like to feel special, that they are needed. E-mails are good because they give this feeling. When everyone on Facebook sees the same message posted to others as well, then they feel like just another sheep in the herd, so to speak. Personally I try for example with birthday wishes, to think of something special for that person and wish them something they would truly like- not only happiness, health and love which are generic. 🙂 It doesn’t make you less sincere and I can understand your pride being hurt. But sometimes, things in life don’t make sense and that is how they are.


  8. August 24, 2010 9:01 am

    For what it’s worth, here’s a good way to figure out if people are just skimming your site or actually reading your posts:

    Add a jump (i.e., a “Read more” tag) to each post, so that only the first 10 or 15 lines show up on your home page. This way, you can actually see how many times each post is individually clicked and viewed, rather than someone just going to your home page and scanning through the tops of each one.


    • Rhiella permalink
      August 24, 2010 9:12 am

      that sounds like a great idea and I want to steal it a bit. Can you set it on all themes do you know?!


    • August 24, 2010 9:35 am

      I’ve thought about doing that before…but (like Rhiella) I’m also not sure if I can set my current theme do do it.


    • August 24, 2010 9:53 am

      Yeah, it’s not theme-based. It’s on your post editor. On the top row of buttons, it’s the one to the left of the spellcheck button (fourth from the right).

      Hope that helps.


  9. marinasleeps permalink
    August 24, 2010 1:17 pm

    I have been shamelessly promoting myself too. But through texts. I am still in the stone age. And I refuse to get a Facebook. And I have gotten back several texts back saying, “Stop hounding me”
    Those jerks!


    • August 24, 2010 1:52 pm

      Keep up the good fight! Maybe you should get Facebook just for the self-promotional aspects. I dunno, maybe.


  10. August 24, 2010 2:51 pm

    I think it’s the sameness of the message that seems insincere, although the actual content isn’t. Your promotion tactics are with great intentions though.


  11. August 25, 2010 6:14 am

    is Facebook the right site for promotion? I guess not but maybe for celebrities!


    • August 25, 2010 8:04 am

      Facebook is a powerful tool. There are so many people there and the people are interacting with the site and each other. Honestly, these days it’s silly not to promote yourself or your business on Facebook in some way.


  12. August 25, 2010 12:54 pm

    I self promote to an extent but i try not to be too aggressive. Usually I promote on facebook, i’ll just post a new status if i write a new blog and add the link. I try not to post my link as a status more than twice a day, it kind of works for me considering i don’t have that many facebook friends.


  13. August 25, 2010 12:56 pm

    Private inbox messages can work to, as long you don’t make it too much of a habit.


  14. Yaya permalink
    August 25, 2010 2:30 pm



  15. August 27, 2010 10:23 am

    I think the most interesting thing about this post is that you say you are looking for feedback on your blog, but, via your comments, I have yet to see you really take any of this feedback seriously. I did see you thank a couple people – so you’re making an effort, but I also see you’re extremely defensive of what you’re doing. It also feels like you’re looking for people to say that you’re doing the right thing. There’s nothing wrong with being defensive, but it can really cut down a lot of people who are sincerely trying to answer your request and provide some viable alternative viewpoints for you to work with. For example – calling someone a ‘Facebook snob’ when they were merely sharing their opinion on how THEY would perceive a similar encounter. Was that really necessary? I actually know a LOT of people who act that way, although I doubt you’d run across a lot of them in your practice of befriending people you’ve never met before. It’s still a valid argument.

    My intention is not to point fingers, I just want to voice my opinion as you have requested. I don’t see anything inherently wrong with your actions – you are, as someone else said, simply trying to drive up some traffic. On the other hand – you can’t please everyone. As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. It sounds like you’ve been offered a few options for how to proceed. I think I’ll keep track of your blog to see what you do next. I, too, have Facebook and a blog and have never directed traffic from one to the other.


    • August 27, 2010 10:41 am

      The request I have been placing on Facebook specifically asks which posts people feel are the best and I have not gotten very much feedback at all on that. And Rhiella and I actually finished that conversation in private, via e-mail. I apologized for the specific remark you mentioned and let her know that I probably did overreact and she let me know that she probably didn’t phrase her initial comment the best and she could see why it upset me. We both apologized and now we are blog buddies. I probably should have apologized to her here because that wasn’t the nicest thing to say.

      So, Rhiella, I’m sorry. And thank you for being so gracious and for telling me how you felt about the whole thing.

      As far as my defensiveness, in general, about this topic I felt rather misunderstood and therefore got a bit defensive. I grew tired very quickly of re-explaining myself. Maybe I just didn’t write the initial post very clearly.

      Thank you for your opinion by the way — and in case all of you are wondering how I’m going to proceed in this matter. I think you are all right and private e-mails (although more tedious) are probably a better idea if I’m going to send everyone the same message. And if I decide to post on walls I will try to post unique messages. Furthermore, the new sharing options that WordPress has TOTALLY ROCK! I have been using them and they have raised my traffic substantially (still not as many subscriptions as I would like, but that’s okay). Now they need an option for Delicious and I think I will be fully satisfied.


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