The key to content promotion is to hide all traces of marketing and advertising. The digital consumer’s nose is quite sensitive to the scent of desperation. Failing to disguise a promotion as such limits the potential reach of a content distribution channel. Desperation signals that your product isn’t cool—isn’t intrinsically good, isn’t good on its own merits. Desperation signals the necessity of a marketing campaign in the first place to paint a veneer of dazzle on an otherwise bland canvas. Although building relationships with readers is the most effective way to build a loyal audience, building relationships does not mean overpromoting and overbearing enthusiasm. Turn it down from 11. To about 7.
What are some signs that you might be desperate?
1. Unsolicited daily e-mail digests. Lately, I’ve noticed an increasing frequency of daily e-mail digests. A digital publication will, after obtaining an e-mail address from an affiliate or more illicit source, send a reader an unsolicited e-mail digest. In effect, the publication has subscribed a reader to a digest without his or her prior consent. While this kind of spam is generally legal, it is annoying. Massive exposure to content might trap some less than savvy consumers. It is likely, however, to turn-off valuable and otherwise potential subscribers.
2. Repetitive promotional outreaches within a constrained time period. Interactions between a publisher and a reader need to be transactional and reciprocal. That means one-sided interactions have a low ROI. If a publisher reaches out to readers continuously without reciprocal feedback, a structure of desire for the publisher’s product never emerges. Sufficient time must be allowed to expire so that recipients can take action on promotions or initiate reciprocal interactions.
3. Too frequent Tweeting. Clogging up the Twitter streams of your followers, again, may trap some user-types. Over the long term, though, too frequent Tweeting will limit the efficiency of your social engagement and content distribution. Use optimization models to determine the best times and frequency for distributing content.
4. Using social media “lingo” inappropriately or unironically. In high school, there are two types of uncool kids. The first, those who naturally fail to fit in with the “cool” kids. The second, those who try too hard to fit in with the “cool” kids. It’s fairly obvious which late-adopters are failing to implement the vocabulary of social media; it’s more obvious which late-adopters don’t know how to use that vocabulary judiciously.
5. Unnecessarily conspicuous share buttons. There is an optimal size and position of “share” and “subscribe” buttons in any web site layout. Exceeding that optimal size or cluttering the page deters repeat visits and direct traffic. When readers actively notice the share button, it’s not doing its job: readers should be aware of the opportunity to share, but not overwhelmed with requests to share.
Don’t be desperate for reader love. The following advice gets bandied about too much on the Internet, but it’s true: if you build it, they will come. Sometimes, publishers with good, marketable content get unlucky. Usually though, a strong product speaks for itself.