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Grade School Blogger: Seeking attention through controversy

by Hamlet Batista | August 11, 2007 | 4 Comments

fight.jpgFor marketers, branding is an easy concept. For me, as a technical guy, it took me a while to get it.

The more people aware that you or your product exists, the better the chance that they will buy from you. Simple, right?

But how do you get people to notice you in the first place? One of the most cost-effective ways is to get people to talk about you naturally. That is what is known as “word of mouth,” or in a broader sense, viral marketing. Link baiting could easily be called viral link-building because the concept is the same: get people to link to you naturally.

Expert marketers are well aware that the best way to get attention is to appeal to others’ emotions. Get others to stand up from their chairs and they will write about you, link to you, and so on. What happens when, instead of appealing to others’ positive emotions, you appeal to their negative ones? Like calling them names, ridiculing them, getting personal. Most of the time you get a lot of attention, but is it worth it?

Let me share a childhood experience that illustrates my point…When I was in high school I used to get a lot of attention for two traits: one positive and one negative. The positive one was that I would get assignments done in far less time (and far more accurately) than most of my classmates. By the time teachers said “pencils down” I was twiddling my thumbs in boredom. Kids not doing so well in school used to come to me for help and I was happy to offer it.

Because I finished my work earlier than most, I needed to find something to do to fill up my days. To kill time, I used to pester others and ended up in a lot of fights. As you may have guessed, this was my negative trait. I remember my parents’ constant visits to the school, all the reprimands, lectures, promises to do better…

The problem with fighting is that you never win. If I threw the last punch, I would walk around worried for days that I'd be ambushed in revenge. I'm glad that I figured out early in life that it was far better to stay out of trouble. On the other hand, I don't regret helping others and gaining the respect of being recognized as a leader.

Why am I bringing this up? Because now that I am blogging I see a trend that I really don't like. Most bloggers love controversy. I must say that I am also guilty of this. Reading bloggers argue about something and not backing it up definitely peaks my interest and gets me involved. It’s human nature.

But by igniting controversy, purposely or not, we're branding ourselves negatively. We definitely get a lot of attention, like I used to get from my adolescent fights, but we're not necessarily getting the type of attention we seek or need. I know it nice to see our traffic graphs jump, but how many of those visitors will look at that incident and say: “Wow, this is a really bright guy, I want to be like him!”? Most are just chanting, “Fight, fight, fight…”

We are forgetting that each brand has a message associated with it. Do we want to associate a positive message with our brand or do we want to associate a negative one? I am not sure about you, but the message I want to associate with my brand—my name—is only one: “I'm an advanced search marketer.”

What brand do you want to associate with yours?


Hamlet Batista

Chief Executive Officer

Hamlet Batista is CEO and founder of RankSense, an agile SEO platform for online retailers and manufacturers. He holds US patents on innovative SEO technologies, started doing SEO as a successful affiliate marketer back in 2002, and believes great SEO results should not take 6 months



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