Apparently some interesting events at Thirty Day Challenge over the weekend. The 30DC is a well-publicized free Internet marketing training program run by an Australian marketer named Ed Dale, and from what I’ve seen of it, it does provide sound methodology and solid advice on Web 2.0 marketing strategy.
But as every educator knows, there’s a gap between what is taught and what is learned. A big group of hopeful potential entrepreneurs (and perhaps a few ethically-challenged people who were looking for advice on becoming more effective spammers), inspired by 30DC, created hundred-person gangs on Facebook to promote each other’s pages with minimal or crappy content. Tumblr, (which looks to me a bit like a blog version of Squidoo), gave a "Thirty Day Slap" (I think that’s how long it’s going to take for the marks to go away) and deleted a lot of 30DC-er content. The odds that some decent content was deleted are pretty good.
There’s a concept in criminal justice of a known associate. If you hang out with criminals, even if no one has actually caught you committing crimes, you become suspect yourself. We all remember the great line from Casablanca, "round up the usual suspects." If you participate in a Facebook group that exists to bookmark content that may be complete crap, even if you yourself aren’t being indiscriminate, you’ll find yourself blacklisted from useful sites like Tumblr or others.
Don’t promote crap.
I want to be very clear about this. Trying to pump Google, Stumble or De.licio.us steroids into unbaked or bad content is wrong. You’re stealing attention from content that is worthwhile. You’re stealing time from readers who don’t have enough of it. You’re stealing energy from the employees of companies like Squidoo and Tumblr that are trying to provide quality content, and who have to waste time cleaning up your garbage.
You’re trying to take something that you have not earned. It is bad behavior, and when it’s discovered, it gets slapped, and deservedly so.
More interesting lessons
To tell you the truth, I caught 30DC out of the corner of my eye in early August and decided not to participate because it looked like a workshop on spam techniques. From the follow up I’m doing, that wasn’t what it was, but the marketing had a puffy "this will blow you away" quality and no details.
Because there is so much spammy and scuzzy content out there, you probably have to assume that any competently run Internet marketing campaign will meet with skepticism. What might have worked better for me would have been along the lines of, "if you’re a spammer and you don’t want to work, stay home. We have no interest in you and if we find you we will kick you out." That would have caught my attention.
There’s another interesting lesson, though. My attention was drawn back to 30DC after I’d dismissed it when I got an email from Dale this weekend. Ed Dale did excellent crisis management on this—he sent me the bad news before I saw it elsewhere, and when I clicked through, he had a robust piece created that presented his point of view. Not his excuse for what happened, but his philosophy on correct "white hat" techniques for creating value and marketing organically. You could do worse than study this for the next time the shit hits the fan for your own business.
Here’s a good video (badly produced in a rather endearing way, with quality advice and info) from Dale on appropriate uses of social bookmarking and some examples of bad practices that will get you slapped.
I’ll end with a quote from Ed Dale that closes the video above:
Here’s the great thing about Web 2.0, folks, you don’t have to game it. . . . Just use it how it’s designed to be used naturally, and do it with great content, and it will do the work for you. . . . You only need a little push, not a big shove off a cliff.
Pretty decent advice. I’m planning on checking out the rest of 30DC. If you see me going off on a wild hair and participating in something silly, slap me, will ya?