Vendor tips: how to get blacklisted from Offbeat Bride's comments

By on Sep 20th

This is the ban hammer, and we are not afraid to use it. Image © by ShutterBugChef, used under Creative Commons license.

I interact with dozens and dozens of amazing wedding vendors every day, and for the most part, it's an awesome industry filled with inspired, independent, creative, and whip-smart people. I love that part of my job is helping these smarties grow their businesses! My favorite advertiser stories are the ones where a part-time freelancer was able to take their business full-time after doing an ad on Offbeat Bride — warmest fuzzies EVAR. Unfortunately, however, there are always a few small business owners who are still playing catch-up when it comes to marketing online — especially blog commenting etiquette.

I totally recognize that people are at different phases of learning about web marketing, but we try to compensate for the inexperienced by being very explicit about our commenting policies — so it's hard for me to be patient when vendors screw up. From Offbeat Bride's comment policy, linked from the commenting section of every single page of the site:

Wedding biz commenting policies

While we love having business owners involved in the discussions here on Offbeat Bride, the comment section is NOT the place to promote your business. If you'd like to promote your business on Offbeat Bride, you're much better off joining us as a sponsor.

  • Please do not use your business or blog name anywhere in your comment — not as your name, not in the body of your comment, not in your gravatar, not anywhere. (Here's why!) You may use your website in the URL field, but if you use a name like "Seattle Wedding Photographer" or "Affordable Wedding Dresses," your comment will be deleted.
  • Don't leave meaningless comments. We see a lot of vendors who come and leave comments on dozens posts that say things like "Very unique!" "Love this!" or "Awesome wedding!" This is a half-step above spam, and we delete it.

It's remarkable to me the lengths vendors will go through to try to sneak around these rules. After blacklisting one vendor who kept using their business name in their comments, we started noticing another commenter who always used a long and awkward blog name as their username. My editors were patient at first — the line between personal branding and blog branding and internet handles can be murky. But then we started noticing that this commenter seemed to make a point to be the first comment on every post, often posting the half-step-above-spam comments like "Super helpful article!" Upon glancing at the URL the commenter was working so hard to promote, I realized it was another site owned by the wedding vendor who we'd blocked the week before. *LE SIGH* A+ for ambition and tenacity. D- for effective marketing methods.

It's especially frustrating for me as a small business owner because I TOTALLY understand wanting to promote your business… it's just that using blog comments for self-promotion is almost NEVER the way to do it. These vendors aren't spammers — they're real people who often make really cool things! Cool things we might even want to feature on the site… but certainly will not be featuring after having to blacklist the business owners for over-pimping themselves in the comments.

Where things get even stickier is Facebook, now that people can comment on Facebook posts using their business page as their identity. (In other words, Facebook user Jane Smith can now leave a comment as JaneSmithPhotography.) Offbeat Bride's assistant editor Catherine (known in these parts as Superman) has to dedicate a few minutes each day to cleaning up spammy comments on the Offbeat Bride Facebook page. We're cruel with blocking businesses over there — one comment promoting your giveaway or asking people to fan your page or linking your latest promotion, and you're blocked.

This isn't an Empire-specific issue, certainly. Marketing etiquette is an issue all over the web, but it feels like a slightly different game when my business model is built around helping small business owners reach my readers — and instead I'm blocking a few who learned a bad lesson or two about self-promotion on blogs. I spend too much time shaking my head and thinking, "Oh man: I want your awesome business to grow, but instead you're making me block you."

The moral of the story? Rather than leaving self-promotional comments, start investing in placement (we have ads starting at only $10!). Joining us as a sponsor is waaaay more effective than wasting your time posting comments that get you blacklisted.

Any questions? I spent 10 years working in marketing before I founded the Empire, so I looooove dorking out on this stuff.

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