Vanity commenting

We’ve all seen it:  a blog posting or a LinkedIn Group discussion amongst a community of interest, and in the middle of the discussion comes a comment – usually from an agency / consultancy to be fair – that is more for the benefit of self-promotion than contributing to the discussion.

To be fair, all of us are now in the business of managing and building our personal brands, particularly in the social media space – and part of that includes participating in the conversation economy.  I’m sure I’m guilty of “ego commenting” myself.

But I’d argue that if the “ego posters” aren’t careful, just as with any other brand and marketing communications, their attempts could be counter productive.

Some examples: Bob responds to a post about X with a tenuous link opening door to a monologue about his experience as a general manager in the defence industry – a thinly veiled attempt to demonstrate high level trusted advisor status.  Janet sends a hilarious email to several people who know Bob and his (ahem) propensity for self-aggrandisement – “Good thing we have Bob around so we can all sleep at night.”  Just like with a business or consumer brand, your brand exists in the minds of your audience.  Everything you say or do has an effect, sometimes not the intended one.

Another example:  A client (Davina) gets a glowing write-up in the trade press spurring a discussion about the way she’s dealt with a challenge. The discussion is by and large about the technique at hand and exploring the idea – but of course there are a couple of posts from Niall (and the group is well aware of Niall’s combination of sanctimonious lecturing coupled with delusions of competence) that seem more interested in (a) subtly knocking down Davina and (b) implying that if Niall had been in charge, things would have been done a lot better and more effectively.  Once again, the emails do the rounds and Niall’s brand is further damaged.

On the other hand, there are examples where someone shares a really insightful personal story.  For example, the discussion on topic X is heading in one direction when Gary puts forth a simple and quite touching remark redirecting the conversation into totally new territory.  Gary’s brand equity rises exponentially with a single, sharp intervention.

Now these might be a slightly apocryphal, but that’s how communities communicate and social communication happens.

What are your comments and posts like?  I’ve got it wrong plenty of times (no shortage of self promotion, vanity, or ego here I’m afraid).  But I do now strive to think – Is this comment for them, or is it for me?

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