29 Dec 2008

Love Means Never Having to Fake It

Okay, this is probably one of those posts where I come off like a jerk who wasn’t hugged enough as a child, but I’m going to say it anyway. Deal with it.

You can’t automate everything. In fact, some things should NOT be automated.

For example:

  • If you automate your marriage, you’ll find yourself divorced.
  • If you automate your parenting, you’ll find yourself with children who grow up to hate you and put you in a home when you’re 70.
  • If you have your secretary write your girlfriend’s Valentine’s Day card, you’re going to get slapped in the face.
  • If you automate your “thanks so much for commenting on my blog” responses, you’re going to turn me off as a blog reader and I’m probably never going to leave a comment again. Why? Because you’ve annoyed me and made me feel like I’m just another email address. Who needs you?

Okay, so obviously I have an example.

Last week I commented for the very first time on a blog that I really like. The content on this particular blog has been rising steadily and I wanted to send some support their way. I don’t really know the blogger, but I do have a periphery relationship with them.  Basically, we’ve exchanged a few emails.  So last week, I stumbled across a post I really liked and decided to leave them a comment. Shortly after, this winds up in my inbox.

Oh, c’mon.  It’s like a kick to the face.

I get what they’re doing. I get that they’re trying to engage back with the person who took the time to leave a comment.  They’re trying to grow their RSS subscribers. I’m a blogger. I read the same Problogger and Performancing posts that you do.

However, I can’t help but think this person (and lots of others. I’m not singling him/her out, by any means) is missing the point. This automated response isn’t going to earn you any goodwill with me. It doesn’t make me want to go back and leave another comment. It doesn’t make me want to go subscribe to their feeds. It makes me feel like you’re better than me and are far too busy to actually interact with me.

And let’s be honest, unless you’re TechCrunch, how many new blog commenters do you really get per day? You can’t spend two minutes crafting each one of them an email that at least looks authentic and original?  It’s not that hard. Or at least use Joost de Valk’s Comment Redirect plug-in to send them to a ‘personalized’ Thank You page. Don’t invade my email. My email is personal. And Joost is hot.

Either engage or don’t. Don’t pretend. I don’t need any more fake relationships in my life.

If you’re going to “welcome” your new commenters, then welcome them. For real. With a real email.

If you’re going to engage in social media. Then freakin’ engage in it. Don’t launch a bunch of sock puppet accounts and pretend you care when you don’t.

You just have to pick one. If you care about me as a reader or a customer, then make every interaction you have with me real. If you loved me, you wouldn’t have to fake it.

[I’m sorry. I feel better now.]