The Internet is a very crowded place. So many people are all clamoring for attention.  SEO is the way to get in front of a large number of eyeballs given that many will search with search engines like Google.  How can you make sure you stand out from the crowd?  Ranking high for important keywords is the usual prescription.

Content is King?

Google has changed the obvious way that might apply by suggesting the authority of any online item is determined by the inlinks to it from other websites.  So over the years we now have interminable debates about whether it is content that matters or inlinks to the site.  The balance of opinion seems to be that Content Is King.

Now Lisa Barone Barrow upsets that balance by suggesting that Content Is Not King, Self-Promotion Is.

I want to talk about the importance of self promotion. Because thats what this whole thing is really about. Some of us are loud and pro-active about spreading our content. And others view self promotion as dirty and, as a result, slow the growth of their business and get mad about it.

She goes on to suggest:

This isnt 8th grade English class where the teacher is going to read every essay and determine which one deserves the highest grade. This is Marketing. This is where you step in front of people to tell them your message. Its where you subtly enter their line of sight and refuse to get out. Its where you become their best pal in order to encourage them to buy from you down the road.

Why Are Individuals Reticent About Self Promotion

Self Promotion

Lisa suggests that the reason people dont self promote stems from fear.

  • People dont want to be seen as arrogant.
  • They dont want others to call them out.
  • They dont fully believe in their content.
  • They dont want to be wrong.
  • They dont want blog posts written about them about how they dont actually work.

Thats a lot of changing how you might act normally in order to make things less offensive for others.  Being also more 'in your face' is also not what you hear in the rules that are suggested for working effectively in social media.

Rules For Good Social Media Reputation

Social Media Rules

In considering what might be good rules for your behavior in social media, the Online Marketing Blog has a good list with 16 Rules For Social Media Optimization Revisited.

  1. Increase Your Linkability
  2. Make Tagging and Bookmarking Easy
  3. Reward Inbound Links
  4. Help Your Content Travel
  5. Encourage the Mashup
  6. Be a User Resource, Even if it Doesnt Help You
  7. Reward Helpful and Valuable Users
  8. Participate
  9. Know How to Target Your Audience
  10. Create Content
  11. Be Real
  12. Dont Forget Your Roots, Be Humble
  13. Dont Be Afraid to Try New Things, Stay Fresh
  14. Develop a SMO Strategy
  15. Choose Your SMO Tactics Wisely
  16. Make SMO part of your process and best practices

The final summary suggests:

While the packaging of social media may be in a constant state of flux the core rules of digital communication do not change as tools/trends change. The reality is text is still king of the web and weve been socializing this way since the days of message boards and forums in the 90s.

In other words, they do not get into this self promotion question.  If you analyze carefully what that list is telling you, it is basically telling you to be being a nice guy.  As we all know, that apparently straightforward advice brings its own perils.

Nice Guys Finish Last

nice guys finish last

That familiar phrase, Nice Guys Finish Last, is attributed to a baseball manager, Leo Durocher.

You will hear it over and over again.  It even came up again in the shuffle of late-night TV hosts as Conan Brian lost out.  Nice Guys Finish Last.  Conans last-minute ratings spike illustrates why he got the boot.

On his final episode as host of The Tonight Show, although Conan OBrien had many reasons to be cynical that night, his ratings werent one of them. Conans farewell not only eclipsed Letterman that evening but every program in primetime as well.  What makes his final shows numbers so extraordinary is that theyre the climax of a hot streak. ... Simply put, he stopped being nice. It was only when he injected his jokes with venom and directed them at a relevant target that his ratings soared.

That illustrates one way of getting on people's radar screen.  Create controversy in some way.  You can do that by being outstandingly good and championing some good cause.  However it can be easy to be seduced by another factor in our gossipy world.

Bad News Travels Farther And Faster

bad news

As another old phrase goes, Good News Travels Fast, Bad News Travels Faster.

Sunday's New York Times featured an article about AOL's fiasco in trying to keep Vincent Ferrari, an ordinary Bronx resident, as a customer. ...

There is a little bit of irony in this too. They were one of the key enablers of getting people online. Of the hundreds of millions of people online, many of them got started on AOL. As the Internet makes news like this travel so much faster, when they do something stupid like this, the thing they helped create kills them faster.

Given this, the professional advice is to try to stop the buzz as soon as possible.  Quite the reverse of self promotion.

Seven keys to preventing bad buzz:

  1. Understand expectations.
  2. Deliver what you promise.
  3. Act honestly.
  4. Admit mistakes early.
  5. Finesse angry customers.
  6. Know when to issue a mea culpa.
  7. Be proactive.

For organizations, the advice seems to be to follow that more difficult route of being the nice guy.

What Can Organizations Do

Trust Filter

The problem that organizations face arises for several reasons:

  1. People are less tolerant of organizations than of individuals
  2. There is less trust for organizations
  3. Organizations must therefore operate with higher standards

One solution is to put a human face on the organization.  Organizations should get individuals to speak out.

  • Employees can be encouraged to speak out and be visible in their online communities.  Surprisingly Microsoft was an early adopter of this approach.
  • The ideal of course is that satisfied customers speak out.  Any way in which this can be facilitated will bring enormous credibility to the company.

Such methods are much more powerful than the old traditional way out of promoting the faceless corporation.


Lisa Barone's suggestion about more self promotion should certainly not be ignored by any individual nor indeed by any corporation.  Only some will find achieving this through negative publicity to be something they can live with.  For the rest of us we must just try harder to make sure our good news gets around.