How Not To Promote Your Business On The Internet

December 6, 2008

If you want to promote your business on the Internet, do it right. If you make some of these mistakes when you try to promote your business, you could do it more harm than good.

1. Using keyword stuffed names in blog comments and on social networking sites, is a foolish way to promote your business. Folk can’t have a serious conversation with someone called “WoodenFurniture” or “ColonMadness”(yes I really saw that name on Twitter). And building any sort of relationship would be out of the question.

2. Talking persistently on Twitter about how you’ve got almost 2000 followers. Nothing makes folk hit the unfollow button quicker. Folk in social networks want friends who are going to join in the conversation, not count them like sheep.

3. Ripping people off.
I was promoting an affiliate product on this blog and the seller offered one of my readers the product for free, if she bought an additional product from her. That was really scammy, as it meant I wouldn’t get any commission for promoting her product. I complained, giving her the opportunity to put things right. But instead she ignored me and wrote a lengthy, drivelling blog post about how she deserves to make money.

If one person calls you a scamming bitch, some folk might think that person has a grudge against you and give you the benefit of the doubt. But do it more than once, maybe someone will write about it and link to other articles or videos that have called you out. And no matter how much you try to promote your business, it won’t do you much good, if you’re known as a scammer.

4. Bombarding webmasters with requests to link to your articles.
Get to know folk before you ask them to do stuff for you. I have one guy who does this to me. I’ve never had a conversation with him, beyond his requests to “give his articles the exposure they deserve”. The only exposure his articles get from me now, is to the spam folder, with the rest of the crap I get.

5. Asking favours from folk you haven’t even tried to get to know.
I get asked some pretty huge favours, often from complete strangers. Why should folk bother to spend hours doing something for you, when you’ve not even taken the trouble to get to know them? Spelling my name right would be a huge start.

6. Making sycophantic comments on blogs that get more traffic than yours.
Being friendly is one thing but there’s a distinctive line between a genuine compliment and false flattery. And folk will see through you, even if they pretend not to.

7. Leaving spam comments all over the Internet.
You should know that most folk have Askimet installed to pick up spam. And most bloggers will delete things like “great post - I really like your site”, aside from those who are desperate for comments.

Related Reading

The Greatest Viral Marketing Idea Of All Time
How To Start A Business Without Getting Scammed
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47 Brilliant Blog Marketing Resources
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26 Responses to “How Not To Promote Your Business On The Internet”

  1. Kim Woodbridge on December 6th, 2008 3:40 pm

    It’s amazing the things that people do. I’ve been answering questions on the WordPress forums and one guy found my website, emailed me, and asked if I used IM because he had a lot more questions. I politely told him that I answer questions on the forums and about my own articles but otherwise I charge for support and training. Geesh - I mean, maybe if I even knew you - I do help people that I actually know.

    I think this is my favorite part of your article - ‘Spelling my name right would be a huge start” - lol

    Kim Woodbridge’s last blog post..Preparing for the Release of WordPress 2.7

  2. Joanna Young on December 6th, 2008 6:07 pm

    Cath, another great to-the-point post.

    I don’t get why people go on about their follower numbers. Even quite sensible people do it. The numbers don’t mean anything, beyond a reflection of how aggressively you go out and follow people who’ll follow back.

    I’m getting really fed up with the e-mails asking for link exchanges or to buy links from me. I try to be polite in my answers in case they’re genuine but misguided, but maybe I shouldn’t bother.

    Joanna Young’s last blog post..Generosity: in 2 Syllables or Less

  3. Vered - MomGrind on December 6th, 2008 6:56 pm

    Cath, you’re brilliant. I love you. Seriously. I usually have a policy of not commenting on the weekend but this was such a pleasurable read. Thank you.

    Vered - MomGrind’s last blog post..Are Blogs And eBooks Inferior To Printed Books?

  4. Kathy - Virtual Impax on December 6th, 2008 9:35 pm

    he - he -he I saw that tweet. The thing is, it was the only one I had seen from that person and yes, it caused me to quit following as well.

    Kathy - Virtual Impax’s last blog post..You can’t make money sitting on your ass

  5. cathlawson on December 6th, 2008 10:25 pm

    Hi Kim - I’ve had those types in forums before - but investment forums. They made me stop using instant messaging.

    Hi Joanna - exactly - now these stupid ad companies are setting up and people are trying to get paid for tweets they probably want to capitalize on it. These people have a cheek asking to buy links. You could get your pages dropped from Google for selling them.

    Hi Vered - thank you. I’m glad you liked it. Sometimes it’s fun to read on weekends.

    Hi Kathy - I’m guessing it was the same guy - copywriter with glasses?

  6. Betsy on December 7th, 2008 2:30 am

    LOL Why do I miss all the fun? Instead I’m driving up to the cabin to retrieve a stray family vehicle and turning around again all in one day. In 15 degree weather with a 25 mph wind! When I could be hearing from ColonMadness? W.T.F? LMAO

    Seriously, Cath, I’m beginning to think of you as the Bill O’Reilly of the blogosphere, as in you are always looking out for us. Now that I know what not to do, maybe I can figure out what *to* do. Thanks. :D

  7. cathlawson on December 7th, 2008 2:30 pm

    Hi Betsy - I was ROFL when I got an email saying ColonMadness is following you on Twitter.

    I had to look up Bill O’Reilly - he sounds interesting. I’m putting together some free downloads to help you know “what to do.” Hopefully they will be done by christmas.

  8. Brad Shorr on December 7th, 2008 9:10 pm

    Cath, Hard to argue with any of your points. Given the amount of negative press these techniques get, you wonder how it is that people still try them. I just can’t figure it out.

    Brad Shorr’s last blog post..Today Is Cell Abuse Blog Contest Deadline

  9. cathlawson on December 7th, 2008 9:13 pm

    Hi Brad - I know - it’s silly isn’t it. I guess some of them just don’t know what they’re doing. Or they might have taken the wrong advice. And the rest are porbably just incredibly stupid.

  10. Stevieboy66 on December 7th, 2008 11:25 pm

    Cath; Great post - I really like your site. Only kidding. All these points about how to be good bloggers are really pointers as to how to behave in society in general. Perhaps the socially inadequate should take up blogging to learn some etiquette.

    Stevieboy66’s last blog post..Handling Customer Complaints In 9 Easy Steps

  11. Davina on December 8th, 2008 1:44 am

    Hi Cath. Colon Madness? Alrighty then. I hope they’re not too full of themselves :-) I honestly have to shake my head at this list. I have to agree with Betsy… thanks for lighting our way.

    Davina’s last blog post..Step Out Of Crisis And Into Power

  12. Dr Wright on December 8th, 2008 5:36 am

    Great Article, along with tweeting about how you have 2000 followers is another strange thing I see. Follow this person so they can get to 2000 followers? I follow people because they are interesting, not to help them reach some goal. I dont know them, so I dont care about them getting to 2000 followers. That lets me know the person is not going to be interested in me, they just want some numbers.

    Dr. Wright
    The Wright Place TV Show

  13. Barbara Swafford - Blogging Without A Blog on December 8th, 2008 8:35 am

    Hi Catherine - Great list. This is a list all bloggers should read. It’s could be “Blogging Etiquette, Part II”.

    Ripping people off is a huge “no-no”. Blogosphere is WAY too small to try and pull that one off.

    Barbara Swafford - Blogging Without A Blog’s last blog post..Come Out, Come Out, Where Ever You Are

  14. cathlawson on December 8th, 2008 9:58 am

    Hi Stevie - That sounds like a brilliant idea. Maybe we should start a blogging boot camp for the socially inadequate.

    Hi Davina LMAO - There’s definitely some nutters out there. What sane person would call themselves colon madness?

    Hi Dr Wright - It sucks doesn’t it. As you say - you follow folk cos they’re interesting. The 2000 follower folk just tweet about how many followers they have.

    Hi Barbara - I can’t understand people ripping folk off either. It’s obvious they’re going to tell others to help them avoid getting stung. :)

  15. Monday Reading Roundup Take #18 on December 8th, 2008 10:43 am

    [...] you will make some mistakes. Some might harm more than you could ever predict, so here’s a list of what not to do when promoting your business online from Cath [...]

  16. Why this is a GREAT time to start your own small business! on December 8th, 2008 4:16 pm

    [...] Jason Cohen in a guest post over at On Startups gives 6 Reasons Why This Economy Is Good For Startups. Tom Volkar also has a great post on Grounding your Business Vision. (For some really great tips on what NOT to do once you’ve made the leap, read Cath Lawson’s How Not To Promote Your Business On The Internet) [...]

  17. Craig on December 8th, 2008 4:52 pm

    Good advice. What do you think about leaving signatures in your comment? If you actually make a real comment that engages and joins the conversation, do you feel leaving a signature and link back to a site is poor etiquette? The reason I ask is because I do that a lot, and most bloggers don’t care because the comments are real. Some asked me to stop and I of course do. I was wondering what your feelings on the issue are.

  18. cathlawson on December 8th, 2008 5:58 pm

    Hi Craig - Thanks. If someone leaves a signature, but their comment is genuine, I’ll allow it occasionally - depending what they have in their signature..

    But I prefer it when folk just tick commentluv. On blogs - we already give links to the commenters site in the link from the name. And commentluv also gives a link to the last post. If you use good post titles, folk are more likely to click through to your blog.

  19. Ricardo Bueno on December 9th, 2008 12:09 am

    I’ve come across the self-promotional type on many occasions! They’re easy to spot and let me just say, nothing is worse than that type of behavior. In most cases it does nothing more than annoy and has the opposite effect of attracting new readers (at least in my opinion. I know I run in the opposite direction when that sort of person approaches me). Just sayin’…

    Ricardo Bueno’s last blog post..Yup…I’m Addicted to Social Media! You?

  20. Ricardo Bueno on December 9th, 2008 12:12 am

    @Craig: I belong to a social network… When I leave comments on that network, I place my signature (my RB logo) but I don’t link back to it. A blogger once approached me and asked me to remove the link-back and I kindly did. We’ve since become great friends.

    The reason I removed the link was because it was considered bad form (and I see that now). The info. field that we fill out when we leave comments already gives us a link-back to our blog. We don’t have to drop more links (or sneak them in via signatures).

    Anyway, I’m not saying “hey, STOP DOING THAT.” Just sharing an experience is all.

    Ricardo Bueno’s last blog post..Yup…I’m Addicted to Social Media! You?

  21. Craig on December 9th, 2008 2:56 pm

    @ Ricardo Thanks for sharing you experience. I have had similar experiences, where bloggers would request that I remove the backlink and I would out of respect, and would email back and forth a few times. I am pretty new to social media and am trying to learn the proper unwritten etiquette involved so I can be more involved with participating with others and joining in on conversations. In the future I will just comment without a signature. Thanks for the tips.

  22. Mike Stuart on December 9th, 2008 3:30 pm

    Great post Cath. I have been an entrepreneur for almost 20 years now but just now getting into social media and ebooks. I just released my ebook last week and have been very tempted to do some of the things you mentioned. I am learning…and expect great things to happen in the days ahead if I can approach the market the right way.
    Any feedback on my new site and free ebook would be GREATLY appreciated.
    Thanks again for the info!

  23. wilhb81 on December 9th, 2008 4:33 pm

    Cath, you’ve the point here. I hated those commentators that never put their real name/nickname instead of those ridicolous websites’ name…lol

    By the way, I hope that my comments didn’t count as the “Spams,” Cath lol

    wilhb81’s last blog post..The Useful Business Tips 10: 5 Ultimate Tips for Improving Your Business!

  24. cathlawson on December 10th, 2008 9:16 am

    Hi Ricardo - that is true - a lot of folk wouldnt click through if there was too much self promotion. I guess it would just be seen as spammy. I don’t know if you’ve seen those forum signatures with about 5 lines of different links in. I doubt whether anyone clicks them.

    Hi Craig - people on here are quite curious anyway. If they see your face a few times, they’ll come and check you out.

    Hi Mike - Thank you. There’s a lot to learn, isn’t there? I’ll definitely check out your site and your ebook and give you some feedback.

    Hi Wilhb - no you don’t count as spam. If you did, I would have put you in the spam folder. What I was referring to is when folk have say, a blog which sells flat screen tv’s.

    What they do is keyword stuff the name, to get a relevant link back to their site. So in the name section, it would say Flat Screen TV’s.

    It’s usually product names they do it with. I don’t mind if it’s a non-product name, so long as it’s not a silly or offensive name.

  25. Todd Morris on December 15th, 2008 12:34 am

    My absolute favorite spam comments are the ones who find me on the various “commentluv” lists that are floating around out there.

    I’ve actually commented myself on a few popular blogs that have made post about the commentluv plugin, and I subscribed to updates.

    Every once in a while I’ll get one of those “great post” type comments. When I go check my email, sure enough the exact same comment (word for word) has also been left on the other blogs.

    It would almost be funny, if it wasn’t so sad.

    Where do all these clueless people come from?


    Todd Morris’s last blog post..What I’m Reading - December 14, 2008

  26. cathlawson on December 15th, 2008 9:13 am

    Hi Todd - I didn’t realise spam commenters were finding us through commentluv.

    It is sad that they do it. I read somewhere that spammers make a sale to something like 1 person in 12 million. It doesn’t seem worth the effort.

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