An Internet Marketer's Journal: March 30th, 2024

The Ongoing Marketing Escapades of Duncan Whitmore

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I Was Suspended!

Yes, it finally happened to me. I was booted off a social media account!

To avoid being overdramatic, this wasn't serious, and the matter was resolved quickly enough. But the whole incident does demonstrate an important lesson if you rely on a single social media platform as a traffic source.

Here's what happened:

Recently, I have been looking into Pinterest as a potential platform for driving traffic to my blog and to other offers. 

Pinterest, in case you don't know, is based on image sharing. You create visual posts, known as "pins", which you then pin to your "board", from where other users can view and "repin" them.

So like other social media sites, it involves placing content on a feed where people can like and share it.

Given its visual nature, Pinterest tends to be heavily weighted towards niches and interests that lend themselves to that medium, such as fashion, home, lifestyle, etc. It has been relatively underutilized by marketers in the "make money"/online business niches, for which Facebook tends to dominate.

Anyhow, I started creating "pins" on my new account about two weeks ago in conjunction with a recently launched product that had been designed especially for the purpose.

All went well for about ten days, and I was driving small amounts of traffic. That is, until I woke up on Wednesday to find the dreaded email notification that my account had been suspended owing to posting "spam".

Like most social media accounts, Pinterest never gave me a precise explanation of the problem. But I suspect that the volume of pins I was creating might have been the issue, given that my account was new.

As I said, this was all resolved after an appeal, and my account was back up and running in under a day. Losing my Pinterest account permanently wouldn't have been a big deal for me at this stage - it was driving some traffic, but I haven't been using it long enough for it to have become a major business pillar.

But imagine if this had been my Facebook account, which I not only use to drive traffic but also connect with other marketers (follow me here if you aren't already!). Losing Facebook could have been devasting.

The lesson: Never rely on a single source of traffic, especially a social media account. Because even if you think you are abiding by all of the rules, the platform may find some way to suspend you. 

And just like that, your traffic - the lifeblood of your business - would be cut off faster than you could blink. Plus the platform won't care because they have millions, if not billions, of users.

Moreover, when you are driving traffic through social media, try and capture that traffic in an email list. Once you have users recorded on your email list, you will never lose all of your valuable contacts who are making money for your business - even if your social media accounts are closed. Indeed, an email list is a marketer's most permanent asset. 

Crawl Before You Walk

Unless you've been living under a rock, you will have noticed that we are living through something of a "revolution" in Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the moment.

Those of you who are familiar with my views on this subject will know me as something of a skeptic. Or if I'm not a skeptic, then I'm certainly dispassionate. 

I do use AI quite a lot in my business, mainly for assistance in content and image generation - and everything I use is genuinely helpful when you know how to deploy it properly.

But in general, there is still too much unbridled enthusiasm - the digital equivalent of a gold rush - for results in this space to match expectations.

Such enthusiasm becomes all the more irritating when vendors of AI, promising to unlock the gateway to the future, fail to get the basics right.

Which is precisely what happened this week.

Last weekend, I purchased, for just $10, a product that would assist me in content generation. It has turned out to be a good product, so I bought the upgrade for an extra $47.

The problem? My account wasn't upgraded - I'm still languishing with the basic version.

So I fired off an email to the support email address. There was no acknowledgment of receipt of my query, and I received no response for more than a day.

When help did arrive, a solution was suggested. That didn't work. So I emailed again, and another solution was suggested. That didn't work either. So I emailed a third time.

At the time of writing, it has been nearly three days since this most recent contact with the vendor, and I have heard nothing. I am still stuck on my basic version of the product, with nothing to show for my extra $47 investment.

Meanwhile, I am receiving automated emails from the vendor promoting umpteen other AI products, training sessions, and webinars, each of which promises to deliver my business to the land of milk and honey for very little work.

(Few things infuriate me more than receiving reams of automated emails when I have a support ticket open!)

Two things...

First, if you are going to peddle new technology, then at least get the old technology working first. It isn't difficult to upgrade people automatically to new versions of your product. I have no idea why it didn't work on this occasion.

Second, if you ever come to sell your own products, then, for pity's sake, RUN A PROPER HELPDESK!!!! There is no excuse for relying only on email.

I have a proper helpdesk, and - aside from a few contractors and partners - am pretty much a one man band. 

When you open a support ticket with me, you will receive an immediate acknowledgment and reference number for your query.

Your ticket then goes onto a priority list based on seriousness of the issue (billing and account access problems are always the most urgent). Further, the system will record accurately whether your ticket has been addressed, and will pester me if I haven't responded within a certain amount of time.

In short, there is very little chance that your ticket will go unnoticed. 

Email, on the other hand, can be a disaster - especially if you are a vendor handling a large number of queries during, say, a product launch.

In particular, any one email can be missed easily, it can go to spam, or you can get confused about precisely which emails you have replied to. Plus it is very difficult to manage any individual thread, or automatically categorize queries by priority status.

But even if you decide to use email, and even if you decide to forego all of the advantages of setting up a helpdesk, then please - at the very least - have the good sense to set up a proper domain. Don't use Gmail or Outlook to send your emails - it is ridiculously unprofessional, especially when you claim your methods are earning your millions of dollars. 

Grit or gold, regardless of what your business is selling, getting the simplest things right makes all the difference to your reputation in the eyes of your customers. This is especially true when you are trying to sell something that is complex!

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That's it for now. I hope you have a very pleasant weekend, and may the week ahead bring you more success with your internet marketing endeavors!

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