Whores, Pimps and the People Who Love Them

When you see people successfully grabbing for accolades, do you find it admirable or whore-ish? At what point does the sharing of one’s information become pimping? Is sensationalistic writing just more punchy and exciting, or does it make you feel nauseated?

With social media continuing to turn ever more people and organizations into publishers, the question of how far to push the envelope is now a consideration for many of us. Many espouse being divisive and polarizing as a way to break through the clutter and succeed. The fact is, these tactics usually work to deliver a burst of attention and some resulting star power. Why do people love it, and does this approach hold up long-term?

While most of us would like some attention for our work, at what point do these activities negatively affect one’s credibility and reputation? With no Miss Manners for our ever-more interconnected world, let’s analyze some professional situations. What are your thoughts on the circumstances below?

1. As blogs compete for eyeballs, post titles like “PR is Dead” or “Quit Social Media” are de riguer. In the case of this blog, a post called “Sexy Secrets When Doing It Solo” would probably attract a lot of traffic from Google. More targeted traffic, and probably buckets of comments, would be generated from a post on “Why You Should Never Hire a PR Agency” (after all, the content could always include a caveat that yes, sometimes, agencies are the way to go).

Question: As a reader, do you feel cheated when a title doesn’t exactly match the post? Or is it interesting and energizing to see discussions ignited?

2. You’re close friends with someone via social media who, upon achieving some notoriety, becomes only interested in associating with those who are more name-drop worthy than you. Not unlike the high school prom queen candidate, old friends are given the big blow off.

Question: Do you continue to behave online as if you’re friends with this person (after all, their notoriety could benefit you)? Or do you stay cordial, but keep your distance and just speak when you’re spoken to?

3. Sometimes bloggers will dream up an award or create a contest that requires people to tweet a hashtag, post a comment, fan a Facebook page, etc. to enter, nominate, campaign…

Question: Are these transparent link bait, or just good fun? Does the amount of goodwill you feel toward the blogger/brand impact your tolerance?

4. Occasionally in a blog post, but more often on Facebook or Twitter, a popular person will say “why do you follow me?” or “what value do you get from me?”

Question: Do you assume this is a regular person in need of an occasional pep talk, a genuine feedback solicitation, or the work of a chronic complement-fisher?

As a final question, how often do you actually notice the behavior above? I’m curious if many of us have become so accustomed to it, we’re desensitized. What attention-grabbing tactics have you seen that you thought crossed the line? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments below.