How to alienate 99% of the people you want to like you online

By Neil Patrick

I have never written a knee-jerk post about anything. Ever.

But this post is going to break that mould. No research. No references. No editing. So forgive me if this isn't the most elegantly written post from me you have ever read.

But critically, you can read it without any interference or demands from me at all.

That's good I think.

This is a very simple message. For anyone who has a website:

Don't push people away who are trying to help you.

Duh. Sure you know that right?

But if you stick with me, I am going to explain why more and more websites are devaluing their brands and alienating almost everyone they want to influence.

I am a big user of social media. I tweet everyday. And I like to share content which I think is good and may be useful to others.

But I don't share just anything, regardless of who posts it. I may like it myself, but that's not enough. I exercise some discretion and try to decide if it will also be useful or interesting to my connections and followers.

So I actually read posts before I decide if I will share them or not.

Just now I saw a tweet with a website post link which I thought looked interesting. I thought to myself, "this will interest others and if I like it, I will share it online". The deal was almost done before I even read the content. The title alone had seen to that. Good work!

I clicked the link to read the post.

I arrived at the website.

Then bang!

Up popped a 'Subscribe now!' message.

I closed the box and started to read through the post.

BANG! Up popped another message, this time more insistent and covering up all the content I was trying to read.

Can I find the close tab? Um...hang on. No. Keep looking. Ah! There it is (cunningly disguised away from the box). Click.

The box closed and invitation to talk to an advisor appeared. The scroll also locked. Damn.

No I don't want to subscribe or talk to an advisor.

I just want to share this post. And since I have quite a lot more followers than you on Twitter, that's helpful yeah? No charge. Just a little bit of help for you.

But now I won't because I don't want anyone who follows me on Twitter to put up with this BS.

So goodbye.

I know. We've all had this experience. It's almost routine.

I know that content costs. That websites have to make money. But this sort of nonsense just makes me hate you.

The origins of this insanity and desperate marketing is a redundant marketing concept which came into being in the early days of the internet. This was a time when businesses thought the internet worked the same as every other piece of old media.

So businesses decided they should use online content as bait for lead generation. Basically the creation of lists of people they would then send junk mail to. Either electronically or sometimes if they were rich AND dumb, envelopes onto doormats.

The problem with this is that for every post view, perhaps just 1 or 2 percent of readers (if you are lucky) will think, "I love this so much I really do want more of it coming everyday into my mailbox"

Which leaves the other 98 or 99% who visited and just like me, got really hacked off...

If marketing is about making people love us, this is worse than bad, it's brand destroying.

What this misses is that the internet in the era of social media is two way communication. It doesn't work when you try to bludgeon us into submission by forcing us to do what you want. It works when you help us to do what we want.

Basically when you make it easy for us. When you treat us nicely, with some care and respect.

Especially when all we want to do is help you out a bit.

But now I won't. Not today. And probably not ever.


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