Using “I” can be okay in writing if you use it the write way. Don’t beat your chest with a “me, me, me” attitude. Instead, balance the use of “I” and “you” to create empathy with your audience and create persuasive content.
The latest wave of SEO spammers are now selling “influence”– to get your articles on high power sites, create that content for you, grow your followers, and drive high levels of fake engagement.
See this chart as an example of what it costs for a posting on each site.
“TAT” is turnaround time. We write for most of these sites and know the content standards. Charging someone per post, as this consultant is offering, is against the rules and unethical.
Do you see this trend of selling influence ruining journalistic integrity, that it’s already happened, or that it’s selectively happening among publishers? Here’s what Leonard Kim of InfluenceTree thinks:
As a contributor to multiple publications including Inc., Entrepreneur, Huffington Post and more, it makes no sense for me to risk my columns to earn a few hundred dollars to place someone’s link or article onto the platform.
Why in the world would I go out of my way to risk getting outcasted from a network that significantly adds to my own personal credibility?
It just doesn’t make sense to me.
As a contributor to my columns, my duty is to provide value to the reader, not to the person who wants me to write about them.
That’s why I designed a course at InfluenceTree that teaches people how to build their personal brand, growth hack their social media following and get featured in publications. I’ve helped multiple people get their own columns in The Huffington Post and earn features in other publications by having them refocus their message away from ‘me me me’ to ‘how can I provide value?’.
If I’m teaching people all the inside secrets to get their own content up themselves and earn their own media wins, why do I need to do it for them?
Media companies that don’t allow this behavior, whether intentional or not, will gain trust by vetting potential contributors who are trying to make income on the side.
Quite a temptation, since most journalists make a pittance for their work– freelance contributors make only a couple hundred dollars per article.
Selling your influence is no different from lip syncing. You can give anyone the stage and a microphone, but without someone else’s voice, the show is over.
The very idea of monetizing a following or authority undercuts the core of what a personal brand is– a representation of a person that’s built over time, driven by experience and proven results.
Mark Lack is a thought leader aimed at helping young adults with their success. He’s shared the stage with the likes of Tony Robbins, Arianna Huffington, and Deepak Chopra– and he’s only 25.
His success in the industry and development into an authority figure at such a young age didn’t come from buying spots on various publications – it was hard work:
As an influencer who’s invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of my life to building my personal brand…I can tell you that it’s not easy, but it is a science. It doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s unfortunate that nowadays anyone can appear to be an influencer with fake likes, followers and engagement but true influence takes years and in some cases decades…true influence is measured by impact.
In order to have major impact, you must start with and continue working on yourself, so that you are the shining example of whatever your message of influence embodies and stands for. Influence starts with you.
Phonies won’t last for long on bought authority when they’re found out for not having any real expertise. Unfortunately, there are no promises that the market will close on people peddling influence any time soon.
Rest assured that BlitzMetrics will never sell influence, since integrity is the most valuable thing you have.
We will help folks who have a compelling message tune it, get it out there and drive leads, but will never sell placements.
How do you feel about the peddling of influence? Let me know in the comments below.
Here’s an article that was in the works from July of 2009 that never saw publication.
While people are no longer building ad networks (that game died 5 years ago), understanding how networks behave is critical if you want to make money via optimization (arbitrage between the supply and demand– the publisher and the advertiser).
Tactics like scrubbing don’t work anymore– but the basic principles never change, which is our reason for reviving this article. The game never changes- SEO Consultants become Social Media Gurus who become Content marketing wizards, and so on- like wolves who discard their worn out old sheep skin only to don another.
Why are there SO MANY ad networks? How to start YOURS!
Every day, another ad network launches. What’s the deal? Google “ad network” and you’ll see 137 million results and see thousands of companies. AdKnowledge, AdBrite, Adfish, Adsdaq, GetAds, E-ads. This evening I was driving down the road and saw a sign for “Be Ad“, before I realized it was just a bead store.
Too many ads!
With Facebook shutting down spammy offers, and even wholesale shutting down a couple ad networks, it will be interesting to see who is left that can monetize the inventory that is in free fall pricing, especially at networks such as RockYou, with over 8 billion impressions a month. It’s no secret that I ran one of the largest Facebook ad networks.
People– there’s cheap inventory on ad networks, if you can find offers that won’t piss off Facebook. Same is true whether you are buying inventory via self-serve PPC or running your own ad network by gathering up a bunch of Facebook publishers. You could cloak, but that’s a short-term solution.
Regardless, the ad networks are taking margins of 45-60%. If you’re a publisher, you’re likely also aware that you’re being ripped off blind.
Thus, if you want to start your own ad network, here’s what to do:
- Put up a site: Call it AwesomeFacebookAds.com, SuperDopeAdNetwork.com, MyFirstNameMedia.com, or something like that. Make sure you have the word “ad” or “media” in the name. Have a wordpress front-end with images of hundred dollar bills, Ferrari’s, and hot models– that will attract attention. These Facebook pubs are kids and such advertising will appeal to them.
- Set up your ad server: Use OpenAds (now called OpenX, used to be called phpadsnew), or Google Ad Manager (yeah, Google’s offering is pretty slick). If you have a few Gs, then license LinkTrust, which will allow you to scrub your affiliates– else do DirectTrack, where you can manually scrub (remove leads, for noobs that don’t know what scrubbing is).
- Start recruiting pubs: You don’t have the money to front your network, nor do you actually have unique offers, so blather on about how you have the best payouts, treat pubs right, pay on time, and so forth. They won’t know any better, especially if you post pictures of yourself in front of cars and houses that you don’t own. So start hitting up the top Facebook pubs– you can install their app and friend them. Easy!
- Run the traffic through your domain: Not a tracking domain, but the site you set up in step 1. That will pump up your Alexa rating and perhaps even your HitWise and Comscore rankings.
- Set up a progressive scrub: Initially, you need to make publishers happy, so take only 5-10%. After a week or two, while they’re not paying attention, start dialing it up to 20%, 30%, and higher. You might even get to 70 or 80%– I was able to with a lot of folks. If they notice, then give them one of these convenient excuses:
- Your traffic just doesn’t back out
- We should try some fresh offers– your ads are burning out
- The Advertiser doesn’t like your traffic
- Maybe there’s something wrong with your tracking
- I’ll look into that and get back to you (and, of course, you don’t)
- Use your excess money to promote the network: Even if you don’t have the cash, by paying your publishers slowly, you can effectively finance your operations through what is called a “reverse float”. In other words, you’re getting paid by your advertisers (or ad network) before you pay out your affiliates. Get a black card, which has double duty of earning you points and impressing the chicks. If you’re running at 60%+ margins like most networks, you’ll be ballin‘ in no time.
I was only partially kidding here, as the examples I’ve listed here are taken from real experience.
And I will admit that we had our own Facebook advertising network, for which there was no scrub. Honestly, the barriers to entry were so low that anyone could have started their own ad network.
But as the competition increased and both advertisers and publishers got smarter, you can be assured the profits were competed down to nothing.
By the way, if you want to learn more about Internet Marketing, I’d encourage you to sign up for MariMetrics.
Want to read more by Dennis Yu? For more content follow him here:
In AdWords, you could find your competitor’s keywords and bid against them.
In fact, one of my favorite tactics over the last decade (which still works) is using various tools to do this across multiple search engines.
You might even straight copy their ads, if relevant and not misleading.
You’d use Alexa, Compete, Quantcast, and whatnot for competitive monitoring.
The old time SEOs remember how cloaking and honeypots were spy-vs-spy tactics to throw others off your scent.
Buying dirty backlinks for competitors (called Google bowling) was an example of this adversarial mindset.
And so prior to social, the world of digital marketing was quite unfriendly.
Your win came at my loss, zero sum, red fish in a blood red ocean.
But notice that social bred content marketing, which necessitates coordination.
If you want to share the best content, you must actively seek out these former “enemies” to co-produce.
Otherwise, you’re limited by your knowledge and time.
In the same way, if you are unwilling to hire minorities, then you’re at a competitive disadvantage, as Jan Koch outlines:
“Far too many online business owners still undervalue content marketing, even though their competitors already benefit from the targeted, organic traffic their content drives. WP Curve is a great example in this case. Dan Norris grew it to nearly 6-figures in monthly revenue with content marketing alone.
A successful content marketing plan has a few key components. The content targets the exact needs of the readership, the content builds upon each other, and the content is actionable. I implemented these things in my content marketing strategy, and the organic traffic doubled within 60 days. It’s hard work, yet it’ll pay off for any business in the long term. Short-term results most likely won’t come from content marketing, but the long-term results can save businesses.”
Frenemies and coopetition means that you have to lower the drawbridge on your moat.
And when you are forced to differentiate, you see that Red Bull and Rockstar are not competitors, though their products are chemically similar.
But if you’re now sharing your best-kept secrets openly, then you better make sure it’s good.
Who knows what the 13 spices are in Colonel Sander’s chicken, but I don’t think anyone cares anymore– minus the PR people for a marketing ploy.
What matters is that your content is delicious– and that others who consume it agree.
Social, having become mainstream, has diffused into content marketing, paid media, PR, and anything but “social media”.
When you do social “right”, you’re putting your personal brand on display to the world.
And competitors can’t copy that, any more than they can try to be you by using the same products and wearing the same clothes.
They can’t copy your relationships like they can Google keywords– these must be built authentically, one person at a time, as Paul Sokol puts it:
“The one thing your competition can never steal is the relationship you have built with your tribe. When you use social channels to amplify relevant content and generate conversations, you are only strengthening those relationships. In this hyperconnected world, competition is inevitable, but relationships will always be king!”
Thus, you can’t hire an agency to run your social media, any more than you can hire a personal trainer to work out for you.
If you’re a competent digital marketer, you’re only as good as your content.
But your content is only as good as the quality of the network you have which produces that content.
So if you’re hiding behind agencies for strategy and content, then you’re now obsolete, while that third party usurps your brand.
Your enemy is not the “competitor”– it’s anyone you outsource your marketing efforts to.
You must take back control of your strategy and know enough how to execute, even if you aren’t executing.
Then your contractors are workers hammering nails according to your process, as opposed to you being a fat man getting a shoeshine.
You don’t want to be hoping that your digital marketing efforts are successful just because the vendors say so.
Nor can you rely upon measurement vendors selling cross-channel analytics and attribution, which is just a new flavor of snake oil.
So if you’re struggling on the inside, that will eventually reflect on the outside.
The fear you’re not willing to admit is common to nearly everyone.
And the excuses are many, coming in the form of how you don’t have resources, it’s not your responsibility, social isn’t relevant to your industry, your agency says you’re doing fine, and so forth.
Maybe you’re older and can tell “back in the day” stories
Sure, you used to sling code with the best of them and walk uphill both ways to school.
I actually did walk uphill both ways, but that’s a story for another time.
But it means that you as a marketer, business owner, or student must get back into being a direct practitioner.
Else you aren’t able to produce the first-hand experience which is your entry ticket to hang out with other pros in your area.
And then you’re not able to get close enough to produce the content of quality necessary to drive traffic for your business.
I hope you’re still not thinking you can send someone in for you.
You are the lead singer, but can still have stage hands like me.
I just won’t sing for you– trust me, you wouldn’t want it.
The confusion marketers and entrepreneurs are feeling is not from being beat in traditional ways by a “competitor”.
But rather, they’re being “out-cooperated” by folks who produce and amplify content such that they appear to be the authority in the area you happen to be selling products and services.
If you don’t have a content marketing process (driven by checklists and undergirded by your own personal brand), you better get started now.