Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Cynical Ploy Of The Week?

Are bloggers who suddenly write off-subject exercising their authorship right of expression or are they trying to boost their visits from specific gender or interest groups that are under-represented in their readership?

Are bloggers who institute ranking tables providing a valuable service to their readership or are they seeking to draw those aspirant bloggers to their site to check the ranking?

Are bloggers who create memes designed to promote less well-known bloggers acting out of altruism and the true spirit of the blogosphere or are they seeking greater traffic and more links?

Are bloggers who do any of the above actually doing both things simultaneously, acknowledging that they have to give in order to receive and thereby showing their marketing savvy?

Are bloggers who create a weekly post entitled, for arguments pupose, "cynical ploy of the week" tipping their hat to innovative minds and consistently interesting writers or are they making their own smart move?


Blogger Mack Collier said...

From the point of view of the Top 25 Marketing Blogs, I can tell you that it hasn't significantly affected my traffic since last summer. It gave me a very big and very unexpected jump in April and May of last year as everyone discovered it. But in the fall of last year, there was a 2-month period where Alexa didn't update, and I lost most of that extra traffic and have never really recovered it.

I do the Top 25 mainly for my own enjoyment. It takes like 2 hours every Weds to do, and by now provides me with no significant bump in traffic, and I still have to field the occasion 'Hey man! My Marketing (actually SEO, SEM)blog should actually be #8! Your list sucks!' email. If I didn't enjoy the rankings, I would have dumped them several months ago.

7:14 AM, January 04, 2007  
Blogger john dodds said...

Mack - I'm not sure if I made an error in providing specific examples of the tactics I was describing because that always ran the risk of coming across as unintended direct criticisms of those particular initiatives. My problem was that, without them, I feared it wasn't entirely clear what I was talking about and I didn't want to repeat what so many other posts have said along the lines of "what is the value of these 5 question round-robins?"

I would saythat the depressing (though sadly unsurprising) fact that you get attacked for "omitting" a blog from something you do for free and, as you say, in your own time is symptomatic of what I was trying to get at. Namely, the desire for traffic/celebrity over-riding what I think we both agree to be the great boon of the blogosphere - the informative conversations/friendships that develop.

Bottom line, the fact that these things are increasingly "gamed" concerns me as I think there is a real risk that this devalues blogging. It's not so much that such tactics exist but the way they are being manipulated and I fear that for every genuine/altruistic example, there is the risk of many more cyncial iterations and I was trying to get people to think about that and, by implication, the way that marketing tactics can be misconstrued in the non-blogging world as well.

7:54 AM, January 04, 2007  
Anonymous ann michael said...

John –

These are great points. I think that a few things happen to people regardless of the medium in which they operate.

First, people don’t think things through to their logical conclusion. They may have a good idea with all the best intentions in the world, but they don’t consider what they know about human nature or the ramifications of their actions.

This is what I think happened with Seth and the Z-List plexo. Seth saw a neat way to make the list interactive (with all the best intentions). But, that action was 1) counter to the original intent of the list which was not intended to be a ranking and 2) not accounting for the fact that people’s behavior is far different when voting is involved.

Ironically not to speak for Mack, but I think Technorati (a ranking system) was exactly what he was trying to counter – not become.

Second, we all judge each other’s motivations and when we don’t know them for sure we tend to fill in the blanks negatively.

Maybe some people do this for links, maybe they don’t. I don’t know. But in several ways I do agree with you that the contortions that these ideas go through when exposed to the masses are more often than not disappointing and could be damaging blog credibility overall.

Thanks for bringing this up – I think it’s an important topic!


8:29 AM, January 04, 2007  
Anonymous Kathy Sierra said...

I'm not sure what to say about this... and I'm not sure it matters if they're being altruistic or strategic (or both -- which is probably the case) if it's something useful. Hugh is just being Hugh, I think. He's pushed that particular button before, and I think while it may bring him different commenters, I can't imagine it brought him new readers solely on that post.

And besides, I think you saw what happened to me -- I made *two* off-topic (and very short) posts about the blizzard and a number of people weren't happy about it. My favorite, "...and this relates to passionate users HOW?" So, writing off-topic most likely does more harm than good unless you're willing to change the scope of your blog and risk losing some of your existing readers.
(Obviously this doesn't apply to personal blogs, but your post was about marketing blogs)

I really like what Mack has done, and I think it's useful -- I wouldn't have even considered my blog a "marketing" blog until I saw his list and saw that I was on it, but it actually helped me think about it. However, I have no trouble at ALL believing it would be more trouble than it's worth. I can easily imagine people being a real pain in the ass about where they *are* on it. I have to say, the more people complain about their 'rankings', perhaps the less likely they are to get them.

Interaction is almost always useful, but I think Ann's characterization of what hapened with Seth's Z-list is dead on. If it's a Z-list, I shouldn't be on it, and the fact that now people are gaming it makes me wish I weren't. I'm grateful I have a few folks who apparently "voted" for my blog, but that breaks the idea of having a list of lesser-read but you-might-really-like blogs.

But of course NOBODY is as savvy as you John ; )

7:05 PM, January 04, 2007  
Blogger john dodds said...

I agree with your assessments on the specific links I provided, but it was the gaming that made me most concerned. As for going off subject - talking about blizzards might not get you much new readership except from snow fanatics, but oblique off-subject discussions can definitely create some buzz and might build traffic. Maybe I was being overly savvy - I'll get back in my box now.

10:34 AM, January 05, 2007  

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