Amybeth Hale – Research Goddess

Opportunistic Commenters
October 30, 2008, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Blogging, Public Relations

For all my fellow bloggers out there, I think this particular post may hit very close to home. Picture this: you take the time to write a heartfelt article, or you’ve put lots of time and effort into researching a great topic. You post and invite people to comment and what happens? Inevitably, somebody decides to not leave a comment, but a ‘business card’. By business card, I mean that notorious commenter who leaves the trite “Hey nice post, by the way you should try out my company – go to my website here” or “Your readers might find some value by checking out my product/service at this website”.

What’s the deal with this? Why do people feel like they must shamelessly plug their own site so much in comments? Granted, I don’t mind a person making an honest contribution or an advertising plug if it’s relevant or if they reach out to me privately to explain. What irks me is when the commenter blatantly self promotes without establishing any prior relationship with me or the comment has zero relevance to the discussion. In my honest opinion, this is highly disrespectful to the blogger.

I think in PR, this is a common argument for those who work in blogger relations. Chris Lynn of SocialTNT fame tweeted recently that he is pleased when people get that “blogger relations is about building and maintaining a relationship and not just pushing products”. When those of us who have taken the time to maintain a blog are bombarded with these unsolicited ads, pitches, comments, etc. – with no attempts on behalf of the culprits to engage us first and develop a relationship – that’s when posts like this get thrown up. So, here are three simple things to keep in mind as you go about leaving comments on people’s blogs:

  • Add something of value to the discussion. If you’re just going to write “Yeah, same here” or “Agreed”, don’t. Provide something of substance to add to the conversation, or add nothing at all.
  • Take the time to read other posts that the author has written. Chances are, if they’ve written about one topic that relates to you, there are probably several other posts that are going to grab you. Take genuine interest in the subject matter you’re reading. Don’t leave comments on EVERY post. Be thoughtful in the words you write – bloggers can sniff out insincerity at 20 paces.
  • If your blog/website/service/etc. is relevant to the discussion, reach out to the blog author FIRST to alert them to what you have to offer (check first to see how the author prefers to be contacted – not all want to be emailed). Let them know that you read their recent post, affirm that you actually read it by citing a line or two, and THEN offer what you have. DON’T just drop a comment advertisement with no warning.

Please – don’t be a serial comment advertiser 🙂


6 Comments so far
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If they use keywords in their name I change their name. I use do-follow and also comment-luv on my blog so I do get some more spammy comments.

Comment by Justin

I agree that blatant spam is obnoxious, rude and ultimately damaging to community conversation. Please note the words “blatant spam”, which to me does not encompass contextual links or even self-promotion. Spam would include, non contextual links, automated comments, or just dropping a link with no comment at all.

I also agree with Chris Lynn’s list, right up to the last point. I don’t feel that authors/editors should always be contacted before leaving a legitimate comment. If the commenter is enhancing the conversation or adds value for other readers it should be praised. When this happens the community is functioning exactly as it should, without moderators or the bureaucracies so indicative of old, non-social media.

I would like to advocate for users not bloggers on this point. As a user I often find value in legitimate links left by other commenters. For example, I read a lot of social media marketing blogs and I have found more then one useful tool or trick by following links left by others. In generic terms, if I am passionate about european travel and reading related blogs, would I not value, for myself or a client, an amazing deal on travel to Paris? Plus, readers of our blogs have the intelligence to just skip the comments they do not value.

Yes absolutely, serial self promoters should contact publishers, with the assumption that if what they are promoting adds value to the community it is something editors what to know about anyways.

I fear that too often bloggers (and I am not saying you Amybeth but more in general) take this opinion because they want to maintain tight control of, or find additional advertisers for their properties. The problem is that central control of content is the complete opposite of what people love about, and expect from social media.

I’d leave a link to our site but I dare not:)
Cheers, @matrudi

Comment by Mat

Argh, yes, one of my pet peeves, Amybeth. As a relatively new blogger, I have only gotten a few of these, but I see these “e-commerce-driven-bloggers” everywhere. What a pain — they are the new telemarketers, always invading our space (in this case, cyberspace). It really bugs me. This week, we got an e-mail (at least not a comment on our blog) from some translation-services site asking us to review their services! On our blog! And then asked us if they could be a guest blogger on “our popular site”. Ugh. We politely declined and quickly passed on the message to fellow translation bloggers. Turns out one of them had also been contacted by the same company.

We must find a way to block these folks’ comments. For now, I just moderate the comments, and if there’s something I don’t like, I hit delete. 🙂

Comment by Judy Jenner

Well, on the one hand it is annoying as hell to see those spammy comments. On the other hand, it also means it validates that you have valuable readers and content. 🙂

Too irrelevant or pure spam, I delete. Some self-promotion in the comments on my blog, I let be. Like below. LOL


Comment by Imran Anwar

The thing is – we have been spoon fed for years by all kinds of marketing gurus and “rah, rah, rah” motivators that it is ok to market yourself shamelessly, to take every opportunity to do so, to shove business cards and equivalent into the faces of potential (and potentially unsuspecting) clients. Networking has become a farce to an extent, a Sunday veggie market where those who shout the loudest sell more fruit. And the internet just made this worse, because it is less personal.
Just as a matter of interest, our Australian legislators now make it legal for promoters to enter your property and disturb you at any time of day and night – and you can’t let your German Shepherd loose at them anymore..
Maybe the game would be to turn the tables and see what YOU can sell to this “e-card dropper”?

Comment by Sam Berner

[…] chick Jessica Lee left a comment on my most recent video post. Didn’t she read my post about opportunistic commenters? Just kidding – Jessica is a dear recruiting and PR colleague – so I will humor her and keep this […]

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