A good forum, and the His Hair one is a great forum, is only as strong as its community. It happens from time to time that a rival, usually very new, entrant, will come onto our boards to promote themselves. It can happen in a variety of ways but always ends up the same – a blatant promotion of their own services. They are of course deleted on discovery but we are not Google and only have limited resources to police these things. Aware that this is becoming an ever more common occurrence it seemed appropriate to offer a few thoughts on the matter.
Why So Sensitive?
To be fair, we don’t even promote ourselves on there… that doesn’t mean happy clients don’t do that job for us. On the other side of the coin there are plenty of threads featuring clients who have come on to grumble about their treatment- this happens between sessions as those first couple of treatments can fade, sometimes extensively. The understandable consternation, having left the clinic delighted with their appearance to see it deteriorate so soon can be disheartening. The typical thread sees them quickly assuaged by their fellow members, sharing their own experience and pointing out the similarities. Once in a blue moon there will be a genuine, bona fide ex client with a grudge. Maybe their expectations weren’t set well enough, maybe they suffer from dismorphia. For whatever reason, if a client comes on the board unhappy the discussion is had.
The forum is the perfect place to get the input of the great number of committed ex-clients who generously continue to share their stories. Some will even offer to meet up with a would be client, to be inspected.
So the forum exists to provide a positive, supportive, inspirational even, environment for hair loss sufferers to discuss all related matters. It is not simply about refusing to provide an advertising platform for the competition when these posts are deleted. It is at least as much to protect the integrity of a forum that has built it’s community over years.
What To Make Of Spammers?
I for one am a fan of guerilla advertising. I admire the creativity and daring it occasionally takes, not to mention the sometimes mammoth returns that can be achieved. Indeed, for the right type of business it can be a perfect way of reaching your audience… anyone else reminded recently, by her Celebrity Big Brother appearance, of Gail Porter’s naked back view projected onto the House Of Parliament building promoting GQ Magazine. Probably the best bang for their buck achieved by that agency that year.
But let’s not confuse any of that with the lowbrow practice of spamming. Where a competitor creates an account to become a member of your forum with the express intention of touting their own services. There are a number of ways they can go about this but it follows a path through these choices and always ends up at the same place.
The first post may well be the only one – if the purpose of the exercise is simply to put their business name on the site and hope to benefit in some way. Sometimes they will make a few benign contributions to other threads before making their move. At this point they may suggest they have heard a negative story about us, or have done all their due diligence and decided on a named competitor. Every now and again there will be some outrageous accusations made about the clinics, or even a personal attack on a member of the team. Naturally, these are never supported by any photographs or other factual evidence.
The Choice Is Yours
Although we do remove these nefarious posts as and when we see them, regular visitors to the boards will stumble upon them from time to time – increasingly likely as they become more prevalent. We would respectfully suggest that a business that sees this as good practice is possibly not someone you might want to put too much faith in.
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