If you have a product or service that you think most people or a large percentage of the people in an online community would find interesting, I think you should delve right in and give it a shot. After all, isn’t one of the goals behind marketing in online communities to essentially capitalize on the sheer numbers and niche topics?

If done right, it can be quite effective. If done wrong, as it most often is in my opinion, it can backfire in a way that can turn ugly fast. I’ve seen it time and time again. A well-intentioned individual joins the community and casually starts mentioning their travel site or automotive services complete with links in every post and the promise of a discount.

What often happens next is they receive a slew of comments from the natives about the community not being a place to sell their services and it’s all downhill from there.
I once saw a user upload 750 images of wristwatches. Seriously. It was his entire catalog. Need I say what happened to him?

I call it the scarlet letter, “S.” it stands for SPAM. It’s a word you don’t want to be associated with in an online community. Trust me. So, before you jump right in to the next community, here are five things you shouldn’t do. Remember, this isn’t the do list, it’s the don’t list.

Don’t:

  1. Add links to your website in every single blog and comment you post.
  2. Write blogs with titles like: “Great deals on travel” and only mention your organization. It’s the quickest way to illustrate a lack of genuine interest in the community.
  3. Start blogging about your product or service the minute you create a profile. It will be noticed.
  4. Misrepresent yourself as a satisfied customer, just to convince others to get on board.
  5. Disrespect the culture of the community. Take time to see how things work before you jump in and shake things up.

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