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How far can you take Guerrilla Marketing in a community setting?

By Andrew Pollack on 01/24/2009 at 09:57 PM EST

Guerrilla Marketing - using crowd tactics, community influence, and other techniques to get attention at low cost through other peoples media is no longer revolutionary. Its common as dirt. We all do it to some extent. The C.U.L.T. shirt is a bit of it. The idea is to get yourself of your product known on someone else's dime.

But what happens when you over-apply these tactics in a community? When a group of people who are essentially competitors come together in a tight community like a conference setting and in good will make no attempt to compete, can you really get away with attempting to out shine your peers through volume, numbers, or other such tactics?

I've watch Planet Lotus go from an incredibly useful site to something I have to rigorously filter down into a distilled set of favorites now that everyone seems to think that a few sensational blog titles will make them some kind of pseudo celebrity and increase their business or careers. I wonder, will community events like the group sessions at Lotusphere become similarly encumbered by arrogant, discourteous, cynical manipulation?

Well known bloggers, Best Practice Track speakers, and members of the Lotus Design Partner program -- its our job to be community leaders and to do that by setting an example of community participation. I want to use this blog entry to call on my peers to give some careful thought to balancing your efforts at gaining attention against an understanding of the needs of the others around you. Lets never turn group venues into competitive situations or we'll damage the value a great deal.


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re: How far can you take Guerrilla Marketing in a community setting?By Vaughan Rivett on 01/25/2009 at 06:06 AM EST
I recently had my RSS feed changed by planet lotus because they feed they had
collecting posts which really weren't for the Lotus community. The new RSS
feed is for Lotus related posts only.
re: How far can you take Guerrilla Marketing in a community setting?By Yancy Lent on 01/25/2009 at 09:24 AM EST
@Vaughan, at 3/17/2008 11:39 PM when you requested to be listed on Planet Lotus
you never specified a feed, check your sent folder, you simply listed your blog
URL twice, so I did the generous thing and went to your site and got the
default feed. Also, Planet Lotus is just me, however I find it a huge
compliment when it's referred to as 'they' or 'them' or the 'guys at', etc.
Also, this is a comment to your comment not the nature of the post.

@Andrew, have you checked out planetlotus.org/my/ you can filter out all the
bloggers you want and create your own front page and feed.

Also, at the risk of generating additional fruitful conversation, your post is
part of the reason I have stopped adding partner blogs to the site, i don't
mind when anyone posts anything from their 'personal' blog. When companies do
it on their real estate it gets tiring. I will soon be launching
planetlotus.org/partners/ so these blogs can be showcased just in their own
space.
re: How far can you take Guerrilla Marketing in a community setting?By Rock on 01/25/2009 at 10:44 AM EST
@Andrew - I share your concerns. Mac and I worked very hard to keep things
balanced, but some things do slip through the cracks, so to speak. And for
those things that did slip through the cracks, I apologize.

Incidentally, all areas of content management will be monitored more closely
for abuses in the future (like Lotusphere 2010)!

@Yancy - I don't want to hijack Andrew's blog post, but I am still a bit fiuzzy
on what you're saying - but here's my take, for what it's worth. You can have a
personal blog that is very "commercial" in nature - meaning the posts there are
designed to draw attention, show off expertise, announce when they have "down
time" and can take on more work, announce a new tool or product, discuss
industry goings-on, etc. You can also have blogs that are hosted by someone's
"company", and they could be completely "non-corporate" in nature, meaning they
talk about what they're doing, stuff going on in the industry (I don't consider
this "corporate", btw - we're all interested in what's going on in the
industry, and we all post about it), opinions they have, etc. without ever
talking about or promoting something they sell or services they offer. So to
say that a blog hosted by a corporation is automatically a "corporate" or
"partner" blog is an overgeneralizing.

I think each blog should be measured by what it contains, and the stated
intent. I don't expect you to be the "blog police", but I do think that you can
spot-check blogs to see if they are "personal" blogs that are used primarily as
marketing, or "corporate" blogs that are really personal in nature (i.e. they
don't promote products or services). And the main reason I say this is that you
have some blogs listed right now that may be "personal" appearing but are
really corporate to some extent - for instance, Ben Langhinrichs' blog, which
is great BTW (I love reading it), but he does use it to promote his wares. And
there are "corporate" blogs that personal in nature, such as Andrew's blog
(this very one!) - he lists it from the front of his business sites (Northern
Collaborative Technologies and Second Signal), but it is definitely personal in
nature.

So, the reason I bring this up is that I don't think it is wise to try to
"filter" or codify the blogs in this community - they are all over the board,
and can be one type one day, and another type the next. The true way to filter
the "good" (i.e. non-marketing) blogs is to let the blogosphere itself filter
them. They will (and do) decide which blogs have merit, and which ones don't. I
know you're trying to make PL more valuable and meaningful to the blog
readerrs, but I honestly think that the individuals in this community will
definitely filter out the blogs that have no merit for them.

And in the spirit of full disclosure, I am petitioning Yancy to add a new blog
of ours, Teamstudio Voices ( http://voices.teamstudio.com ), to PL. It is
designed to be a place where the folks at Teamstudio can blog about what's on
their minds - pretty much anything is allowed except politics and religion -
because I think the Teamstudio employees have a lot to offer if they would just
interact with this community. So, I made the "price of admission" lower by
giving them a common place to say what's on their minds, without the need to
create an entire blog for themselves.

Anyway, that's my thoughts on this - and to get back to the original point of
this post, I can assure you we will be redoubling our efforts to prevent people
from attempting "overzealous" marketing tactics.

--Rock
re: How far can you take Guerrilla Marketing in a community setting?By Yancy Lent on 01/25/2009 at 12:32 PM EST
@Rock, I have always tried to preface every conversation on this subject with
the acknowledgment of the immense gray area it has. Your reply above proves
that, its like a gnarly nested if statement.

Benu2019s blog is a great example, his blog is on his companies real estate but
he is his company, it is only him, the buck stops with him. There are many
other examples that I have labored over to ensure that http://planetlotus.org
is independent in nature. I have been sent many blogs that are post after post
of product news. That is a resource I would like to promote at the site but it
has its place, its own place, off the front page.

I have spot-checked voices and it is personal in nature however every post
mentions the very company that hosts it. I'm sure this will change over time
with new authors but I only have to what is written to date to go by.

In my own full disclosure, when PL first launched I let the upper level
management at the partner I work for, Axceler.com, know that I would not post
any blog they were considering launching. I have tried to stay true to that
since the beginning.
re: How far can you take Guerrilla Marketing in a community setting?By Paul Mooney on 01/25/2009 at 12:47 PM EST
@Yancy

I had the same issues with ILUG (keeping it away from BP advertising) and was
successful, although that line was difficult to keep sometimes (especially when
being offered much-needed sponsorship).
I know exactly what you mean, and how you are doing it - you have to use your
judgement, which is even minded and subjective.
PL is your baby.. you do a good job.. go with it. Some people will mention how
great their employeers are etc... thats ok - but if it becomes a launch pad,
you know what to do.
p.
re: How far can you take Guerrilla Marketing in a community setting?By Bob Balaban on 01/25/2009 at 03:37 PM EST
What Paul said.
re: How far can you take Guerrilla Marketing in a community setting?By Rock on 01/25/2009 at 07:30 PM EST
Thanks for your reply Yancy - I truly do appreciate it.

I have sent you an email so we can continue our discussion offline, and not
hijack Andrew's blog (as I said earlier). I just wanted to let everyone know
that I didn't leave your thoughtful response unanswered.

Thanks again!

--Rock
planetlotus.org/my/By Andrew Pollack on 01/25/2009 at 11:47 AM EST
Yes, Yancy. When I spoke about having to filter it that's what I meant. I now
have to use the /my/ customized content. The full raw feed used to have the
wonderful advantage of showing me interesting things from people I didn't
already follow. It got so bunged up with everyone who thought they had
something to say but was just self promoting that I gave up trying to watch
it. That's one side effect of systems like this.

The other is the need to over-sell the topic in the title or over post just to
be on top -- it abuses the community.
re: planetlotus.org/my/By Yancy Lent on 01/25/2009 at 12:34 PM EST
Got'cha.

I really have to update the left hand nav (on /my/) so it's consistent with the
main page. It's on the to do list.
re: planetlotus.org/my/By Ed Brill on 01/25/2009 at 05:39 PM EST
Interestingly, one of the things I really like about the mobile planetlotus
feed is that it shows the first 100 characters of the entry without having to
hover over. I'm much less likely to fall for the sensationalistic headline if
I read what it is really about...though of course, then there are those that
even try to pack in the hype to the first 100 characters, too.

I continue to find PlanetLotus a great resource -- and I should point out, so
do other execs within the Lotus team. We just apply our own filters to who we
want to read and not read.


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