Today is not a particularly good day, nor have I had one in a while. I’m not sure there even would be a good day to get an email like this. It’s from a female of the human species, in case you find that meaningful (though I don’t).
I really enjoy your take on fitness and general health, your last post on vegetarians and vegans was hilarious!
I am contacting you today on behalf of SKECHERS Fitness Group, and we are reaching out to fitness enthusiasts like yourself to see if you are interested in trying the latest technology in fitness footwear.
Bloggers selected to participate will receive a pair of Shape-ups SRT training sneakers, compliments of SKECHERS. Participants are asked to try wearing the SRTs, write a positive or neutral blog post or article about them, and then direct readers to skechers.com to learn more about Shape-ups technology.
The SKECHERS Radius Trainer (SRT) is designed for a high-intensity workout with maximum calorie burn. Wearing the Shape-ups SRT may help activate and strengthen muscles typically underused in daily activity – potentially resulting in a stronger back, firmer legs, and a tighter abdomen. The SRT features Kinetic Wedge Technology – an ultra-soft Resamax™ kinetic wedge that extends from heel to toe, giving each stride a gradual transition. The softer, lower layer provides superior cushioning and creates natural instability, which helps increase muscle activity by forcing the foot and body to constantly adjust for proper balance and positioning. An Advanced Stabilization Insole (A.S.I. ™) supports and stabilizes the foot to prevent it from flexing before the proper point, and a Roll Bridge™ increases side-to-side stability and utilizes reinforced heel pillars to control your forward movement.
Please reply to this email or call me directly at xxx-xxx-xxxx if you are interested in reviewing this revolutionary product.
Thanks in advance for your time and consideration, and we hope to hear from you soon so we can send you your complimentary pair of SRTs!
"I’d rather stick needles in my eyes," to quote Garrett Breedlove (Jack Nicholson) in Terms of Endearment.
OK; wow. You know, I get emails almost every day from someone wanting to promote some product, service, their blog, their e-book…what have you. Clue #1: I get over 100,000 visits per month and I have NEVER done any of that. Ever. The very closest I ever came was to suggest to Mark Sisson a guest post on fasting; for one, because I’d already had contact with him and two, because he’d just published something on IF and I honestly thought I had something to contribute from the realm of self experimentation. And it was two-way. Mark followed up with a Q&A here.
Before I get to what I really want to talk about, which is search engine optimization and social media in this new Intertube world, let’s deal with the specific bullshit of the email to lay the foundation.
World’s Ugliest Shoes
You know what? I don’t even care if all the gibberish-gobbledygook, "scientistic" total pile of steaming and reeking dogshit in paragraph 4 of the subject email were true (Jesus, would that not be fun to deconstruct?), or somehow meaningful; or, somehow desirable for a human animal.
These shoes are fucking fugly! The only upside I can see is that it makes it easy to spot a fucking moron; with whom, you want nothing to do with ever in your life. Seriously, people…can we not draw a line…somewhere? Don’t fucking come anywhere near me with those gawd awful things.
I’m warning you!
But isn’t the first paragraph of that email interesting? Only thing is, that was the post at the top of the blog at the time. So, she thinks either I’m stupid, starved for attention, or willing to sell my reputation for a pair of fugly sneakers…
…which I don’t fucking wear anyway.
Meaning: no way did she investigate deeply enough to find my original, extensive post on my experience with the human foot in walking over 5,000 miles: Learning to Walk. Nor did she notice my posts about Vibram Five Fingers vs. RunAmocs; here and here. And finally, she surely didn’t notice that I just bought three pairs of shoes, modified for minimalism.
So this is less of a post about the inanity of "shoe technology" in favor of the amazing appendage we call feet — with 4 million years of evolved "technology" — and more nerves in them than the heads of your favorite organ, guys (thought I’d throw that out), and more about the inanity of handling SEO and Social Media badly. Really badly.
…And oh, just so you know: yes, it’s quite a thrill to get used to walking barefoot…guys…
What struck me about this email was that it came from an SEO (search engine optimization) firm, clearly hired by Skechers to promote their product. And while I have not a problem in the world with Skechers producing and promoting fugly crap to stupid morons (hey, Skechers, how about put lights in them!) who don’t know any better, I do know better. And so do a lot of people on this newfangled Intertube thingy.
This is just such an illustration of what’s all wrong with modern business, now. Look, sure, the easiest and actually valid criticism of this post is: "hey, Richard, it was just one SPAM. You think Skechers cares?" No, I don’t, and if I was just some guy who had only his family and in-laws at Christmas to give a thumbs up or down to, that would indeed hold true.
Instead, this is going to be seen by tens of thousands. It’s going to be tweeted and FB’d by dozens and in turn, it’s going to be seen by thousands, perhaps tens of thousands more. Now, multiply that by just a few SocialMedia savvy folks who don’t take kindly to what is essentially a dishonest scam posing as a legitimate request for a review, with a personal reference, even.
So, OK, even if it’s true I’m overreacting, will this campaign, on balance, help or hurt Skechers and more specifically, will my objections and those of others make a big difference? My guess is help, and no. But will that always be the case, and, what it the risk at the outset? What if someone was to do a really clever, derisive YouTube that went viral? What would be their defense, since they spammed about fucking ugly shoes?
You know what? Had she simply been honest, would’ve made all the difference. Even being just as wrong.
"Richard, I looked around, see you’re into barefooting, Vibrams and other minimalist footwear, and I know this is a total longshot, but I wonder if you could just give these a try. I’m totally willing to risk whatever judgment you arrive at. I think they’re that good."
But and oh-yea, from the email.
Participants are asked to try wearing the SRTs, write a positive or neutral blog post or article about them, and then direct readers to skechers.com to learn more about Shape-ups technology.
The mind boggles. But for the record, she’d have received a very, very polite and cordial thanks, but no-thanks for the former and you’d have never caught so much as a whiff. And so you must ask yourself: why are companies so unwilling to risk that sort of up-front, straightforward honesty?
I’m only now paying a little attention to the ins-&-outs of social media. Yea, I’ve been using Facebook and Twitter for a while, got a decent amount of followers on both; but mostly, I just always focussed on writing my blog 1st, promoting and backing winners, second. Yes, I link to winners or those I perceive as future winners. You want attention? Be good. Be unique. Never be fucking boring; and when you are, which is inevitable, quickly follow up quick as you can with a new post, just like I do. Get the boring shit off the top of the blog ASAP once you realize that your readers somehow don’t think it as brilliant as you do.
I’m always mystified by the emails I get almost out of nowhere from a blogger I’ve never or only recently heard about, with a dozen or less posts in the archive (I have around 3,000, I think) and wow, they have an e-book (for sale). Bonus: there’s an affiliate program and I get 50% or more.
I don’t know; I’m no social media wizard, but it seems to me that if I had a a book or e-book, people would buy it because I wrote it. And the only reason they would want to do that, is that I took the time and effort to get people to want to read what I write.
Pretty much everything I’ve read about social media so far (and I’m reading more and more) boils down to one thing and a corollary:
- Be meticulously and excruciatingly honest and forthright.
- (Corollary: you’ll have less competition that way)
P.S. Mark Sisson, whom I mentioned above, Skewered these "shoes" a while back.
So are you pissed off with big companies who only play the numbers, counting on lots of stupidity, rather than being genuine, honest, letting you know up front that something may or may not be to your liking, hype free? Then blast this out to your Facebook Friends and Tweet it until your feel you’ve planted the seed of justice. Buttons up top.