Revisit the Site: Hey Spam Bots and Marketers, You're Failing at Blog Comments


(CS: This article that I originally posted on June 28, 2012, has gone on to be one of the top ten most viewed pieces ever on Beyond the Balcony. Either many other bloggers and writers could relate to the annoyance of spam comments or web surfers were lured in by that glorious photo of canned meat.

The downside of having a site that is increasing in traffic and doing well in search engine rankings (for certain topics) is that you start attracting the occasional undesirable. My site has been attacked by a few trolls whose life mission is to be an incompetent ass. (CS: 2012 Christopher didn't have a clue what toxic treasures were in store many years later with a numbskull army intent on spreading their hate and idiocy on as many platforms as possible with places like Facebook some days being near unusable as the moron meter explodes with ill-formed diatribes.)  Luckily, their visits have still been pretty rare -- or they just deem my articles to be untroll-worthy. (CS: Most of their energy seems saved for social media outlets now.)  But I have seemed to drag in several marketers and spammers over the last several weeks, and their comments are often even more irritating and mind-melting than the trolls. 

The joke is on them, though. I have a pretty effective spam filter that has caught their shenanigans every time, so their prose have been entirely missed by the general public. (CS: I have since gone through a few different comment apps and filters as spammers have gotten savvier. I now have a filter where I need to approve any comment before it shows up on the site. It works fine now, because comments are so rare, but I'll have to look into something less time consuming if the site ever grows to where comments are posted a few times an hour.) 

I am not opposed to self-promotion and marketing. But I am opposed to blatant self-promotion and marketing, where it is obvious your only purpose for being on the site is to shill your wares. A blatant plug is just a sign of laziness and an incredible lack of creativity. Those really aren't two traits you should have if you aspire to be a successful marketer. 

I admit that I can be a self-promoter. If it is on my blog or my own social media accounts than I'll even be pretty blatant about it. When you're in a profession like freelance writing, I really have to self-promote if I have any hope of getting read and creating a small name for myself. I realize you need to promote and market if you want your products to be known. By all means, blatantly shill on your own blogs and social media sites. But don't think I'm up for your little games on my own blog. (CS: One thing that many new freelancers and creators don't realize is the marketing and promotion of your work never ends even if you reach 'success.' But the key is doing it in a way to not ever alienate or annoy those that you're trying to attract.) 

Almost every bit of literature on social media marketing will say that one of the most effective ways to promote your product is creating a presence through interacting on social media. One of the best ways to interact and create a presence is to leave comments on blogs -- especially on popular blogs (which I'm not claiming my blog is, and I'm sure if it was, I'd be greeted by far more awful spammers). I actually do agree with this strategy. I am not opposed to a marketer leaving a comment on my blog. 

I frequent several blogs, and I'll often leave a comment. I also admit that one of the reasons that I leave comments is to get a link to this on blog on their site. My comments are definitely a form of marketing, and I am essentially doing the same thing as these spammers and marketers. The major difference is that I'm doing it properly and they are utterly failing. (CS: I should clarify that the link is usually in my signature that most sites and forums allow, and not a case of me shoehorning it into the body of my comments.) 

When I want to leave a comment on a blog, so that I can leave behind a link and hopefully get a few new people to check out my site, I have a few easy strategies in place. First off, I read the actual blog post. Reading a blog post is a pretty crucial step, and is the most important step. It then allows you to know what type of comment you should actually be leaving. Then when I leave a comment, I make sure it actually is a response to the article. I also make sure that I am actually engaging in the conversation and possibly helping to stimulate more dialogue. My comment contains substance that either brings some new information or possibly adds a personal anecdote. Essentially, I try to write a comment that is entertaining and brings value. Then hopefully it will make other readers think, "That dude is one smart and witty muffin, and I want to read more of his delicious and nutritious words." 

So, basically my comments are exactly the kind of comments that a writer wants to read on his site. There is no shilling, but just a comment that really engages with the article. You start posting many of these comments, and you build a rather strong reputation on that site. It'll likely intrigue more people to check out the link, and so they can read what else you have to offer. It builds the real and authentic relationship that all the marketing materials claim is the future that is Web 2.0. (CS: I think site comments still matter, but most marketers feel having a presence on a few social media platforms is the real key of engaging and growing a following that will then hopefully check out your work and art.) 

This isn't what spammers do. I'm not sure if the majority of the comments are from automated bots or if it is just people that really suck at being subtle. Typically, you end up with comments that show they have no clue what your article is really about and they just beg you to click on their link. They do try to tie their shill in with the post, but usually it is just finding a word in the title that has something to do with their product. 

For example, this is the type of comment I'd likely get from a spammer or failed marketer on this post. 

CannedHamJoe says: 

Great Post! Spam sure is a convenient lunch meat. Did you know "Trapped Ham In A Tin" tastes just like real ham! Click this link to buy some yummy gelatine gloop meat deliciousness. (CS: SOLD!)

This wouldn't make it past my spam filter. I wouldn't approve it to make it to the site. So, that becomes one epic failure in marketing. 

Now, if this guy talked about his annoying experience with a spammer, and then posted a link to his site, there is a good chance I may have checked out the link. Once I found it was about canned ham, I'd have quickly left it. I'd have left the comment around, and maybe some other person would discover him and get their not-quite-meat needs met. 

Now, if a marketer really, really, really, really needs to talk about their product, then they at least need to make the effort to ensure the article is actually about what they're pimping. If an article is moaning about the lack of high quality glow-in-the-dark underwear, then by all means pitch in with your magical undergarment that not only glow but massage your ass. I'm sure the poster and the readers will be forever thankful.

It comes down to this; marketers you're failing. You're commenting in the most incompetent way imaginable. I see through your lousy posts, and I have no desire for you to litter up the comments section. It is time to change your strategy. I've given you some tips; now, we’ll see if you can do it better next time. (CS: Nope they never did. But I get that marketing your product is really hard. I get frustrated when I put my heart and soul into something, and the social media algorithms seem destined to keep it obscure and buried. It takes a lot of time, hard-work, and consistency to grow a following and get people aware of your work. But I still stand on 'Great Post! And now I pitch my product!' is not ever an effective strategy other than to annoy site owners and potential customers.)