I’ve been reading a lot of blog posts and tweets lately about people being averse to “tooting their own horn”. And I’m not sure I really understand the aversion.

Ok, I know there are lots of spammers out there. I know there are certain types of people that seem to do nothing but shamelessly self-promote their wares. But I think that they are really in the minority.

The blogosphere, the Twitterverse, the Plurk Nation – they are all run by people. People who have something to say. People who want to have conversations, make connections, establish relationships. If we aren’t all out here “tooting”, then what are we doing?

When I update my blog, or my Twitter feed, or my Facebook page, am I not, in some way, promoting myself? Even if I am just saying what I’m up to right now, or I’m replying to someone, or commenting…that’s all promotion of myself, my ideas, my sense of humour…what have you.

I agree that there are good ways and bad ways to toot your horn. Here are a few things that I’ve learned about what I like to call “The Art of Shameless Self-Promotion”.

Admit it.
Louis Gray writes about disclosure and transparency on his blog. So does Chris Brogan. It’s pretty essential and important to consider. Sneaky tricks to promote your stuff are just that…sneaky. So, if you are going to shamelessly self promote, at least admit it! I’ve sent emails to colleagues and friends entitled “Shameless Self Promotion”. Even if they delete the email, at least maybe I’ve got their attention for a second and made them snicker. (Note that I said “friends and colleagues”. I don’t recommend sending these kinds of emails to people that you don’t have an existing, pretty solid relationship with. Make sure the people on your list have a sense of humour about this stuff.)

Be Subtle.
This may seem to be a contradiction to my last point, but it’s not, really. Self Promotion done well is a balance of putting it out there, but doing it in such a way that you are not putting people off. It’s kind of akin to giving someone a gentle tap on the shoulder to get their attention and grabbing them from behind in a giant bear hug. The gentle tapper says “I’m here, if you want see what I’m about”. The bear hugger says “Here I am! Here I am! No, right here! Pay attention to MEEEEE!” See the difference? So go ahead. Self promote, using all your channels, like Twitter, your blog, Facebook, FriendFeed, LinkedIN. Just make sure you aren’t too “in your face” about it.

Gauge Yourself.
Not sure if you are being too overbearing? Well for starters, if you are, people will let you know pretty quickly. Usually they will just start ignoring you, or blocking themselves from your line of fire. What it comes down to is common sense. Does it make sense to send out an unsolicited email to everyone on your contact list and all your Facebook friends and all your Twitter followers about your latest blog post? Of course not. Does it make sense to do a quick post to Twitter, and maybe a link on your Facebook profile? Sure. Why? Because the latter method is non-intrusive. It gives people a choice if they want to buy in to your self-promoting ways. And if they don’t? So be it. At least you’ve put the word out.

The #1 Way to Shamelessly (and subtly) Self Promote
I am surprised all the time by the new people that come across my blog. And you know the #1 way people find me? Through comments I make on other people’s blogs. Yup. Not through my Tweets, not through my Facebook, LinkedIN or anything else. I comment on people’s blogs. Probably 5 to 10 a day. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying go out and put inane comments on a bunch of blogs to get your name out there. What I AM saying is go out there and make a contribution to the community. Get involved in the conversation. Express yourself. If you do this with integrity, people will visit you because they are interested in what you have to offer. This is the give and take game of social media. And when you play it right, the rewards will be real and fulfilling.

So go ahead – toot your own horn!

Photo credit: Fiskfisk on Flickr.

27 Responses

  1. Great point SuzeMuze, so important to find the happy balance between the 2. I will need to learn to self promote a bit better, have not done it, but I am good at promoting other peoples stuff.

    Great to see this in one article. Thanks!

  2. I find that a majority of my traffic comes from my tweets that auto update when my a new post goes up. I had thought that this might be intrusive, but I’m seeing that this is the way that regular readers know that there’s a new post. I know it’s how I found this post.

    But it’s about credibility to me. There’s a fine line here. Your blog is one that I want to find, and by putting it into my stream I’ll click and read (and comment) but if it’s someone that I have no relationship with or I don’t want to read I’ll eventually unfollow them because of it.

    Toot! http://www.robblatt.com Toot!

  3. Well said. I am glad I was duped by your shameless Twitter self promotion and driven to this post!

    I think your point about disclosure is key. Personally, I love when people I follow on Twitter flog their blog. Why? Because a) I am interested in what those people have to say and b) I am terrible at keeping up with my RSS reader.

    But it’s like any link I encounter online. I want to know where it’s taking me. Especially if I’m at work, where some content is less acceptable than other content.

    This problem is compounded on Twitter, where most links are redirected via is.gd or tinyurl.

    By tagging your tweet with ‘shameless self promotion’ or ‘new blog post,’ you’re telling me that I am going to wind up on your blog – not some racy or curse-filled YouTube video.

  4. Like you, I always note “shameless self promotion” in a subject line. Why not admit it? And you’re right, folks will let you know when too much is well, too much!

  5. Having spent years learning the balance between spamming and shamelessly promoting… If you have something exciting that you want to share… you can’t help but talk it up at every opportunity.

    If that’s shameless self promotion…. then that’s what it is. I’d prefer to call it, living life with enthusiasm.

  6. I am here commenting thanks to a tweet, so it works 😉

    I do think that commenting more (and hopefully somewhat intelligently) on blog posts is time well spent and does increase your exposure and helps build your online “street cred.”

    If you are reading this comment you are cordially invited to visit my blog and comment there 😉

  7. SuzeMuse, I find myself in this dilemma pretty regularly. When I’m talking to other people (in real life, not computer life) I’m great at telling them to “be yourself” and “if you don’t tell others what you’re doing, they won’t know, and they probably DO care.”

    But when it comes to me, myself and I – I’m worried about being pushy, selfish and the lot. Thanks for putting the thoughts of me (and many others I suspect) into words and out for us all to digest.



    BTW, I came here because of a tweet of Chris Brogan’s!

  8. You and I have some thing(s) in common:

    1. Chris Brogan who knows how to shine the spotlight on others much in the same way I tend to do through my interview series on my blog. He helps people who in turn help him b/c he is so generous. That’s one thing you forgot to put in here – Zig Ziglar is famous for saying “If you help just enough people get what they want (recognition, traffic, link love, job recommendations, etc), you’ll get what YOU want (recognition, traffic, link love, paying gigs, job recommendations, etc).

    2. The need to get our names out there for our respective line of work. You outlined all the right things about ways of promoting ourselves. We have to do it. People don’t find out about you if you’re sitting on your duff, hiding in the corner. We have to be brave enough to get the word out.

    3. Here’s one other thing: Offer to do interviews or if they come your way, at least accept them – it’s another way to get your name out there.

    One last thing – I read an EXCELLENT book that was part of the gift bag at this year’s SOBCon08 (Chicago blogging conference).

    The Title?

    “Step Into the Spotlight: A Guide To Getting Noticed” by Tsufit (funny name I know but that’s her name).

    Happy reading.

  9. Great post! I’ve found that shameless self-promotion and the desire for disclaimers has gone up as social mediums have been getting saturated by marketers and self-promoters. The issue has definitely been coming up lately on blog posts. Seth Godin gives his disclaimer in a blog post i read recently – http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/08/policies-biases.html. After his post, a number of bloggers, including Chris Brogan (ps. he linked me here), have begun disclaiming their intents, biases, policies, background, etc. Nowadays it’s a relief to see people disclosing the back story and self-promotion – and really has become a neccesity.

  10. Great post. After a year of blogging, I’m finally starting to figure out social media. It is an onion, though. Your post was clear and simple and very helpful. Now I have to go figure out what RSS is. I’ve been thinking, “If you write it, they will come.” So far it’s worked, but maybe a little promotion wouldn’t hurt either.

  11. I saw Chris Brogan tweet about your post, and I trust him, so I clicked. I think twitter is a great way to find interesting people and ideas, but I agree that leaving comments at blogs (old and new friends) is the best way to get people to come and visit. I occasionally drop a link in twitter, but I do feel like some people drop too many of their own links. I also like promoting someone else that I enjoy, and it seems more credible when it’s someone else saying “Hey this is great” instead of the author them self. I hope you’ll stop by for a visit and a laugh!

    Best wishes for a wonderful day!

  12. This is a great post, but I am clamoring for a follow up post SuzeMuse on the need for a 28-hour day.

    What do you say?

    I think it’s about time we all got the extra four hours needed in today’s world to maintain our activities in the biosphere of work and home as well as the blogosphere.

    Anyone heard of the Take Back Your Time movement? If not, that’s because its supporters are sort of slackers: http://www.timeday.org/

  13. I’ve realized a pleasant side-effect of the self-promotion-via-commenting strategy.

    Since this strategy only works when the comments are interesting, well-written, and un-SPAMmy, I really don’t mind when someone comments on my blog just to get (the good kind of) attention.

    It’s flattering, and if done right (on-topic, follow-up, in a relevant niche) it adds to the value of both blogs.

    It’s like someone unexpectedly asking for a first date. It can be welcome or sleazy, depending on the attitude and respect with which it is offered.

    I’ve discovered some wonderful bloggers by their comments on my blog. Some of my most eagerly read items in my feed reader found me, rather than vice versa. (Others, not so much.)

    It’s like a stranger knocking on my front door. It could be an unwelcome salesman who puts his foot in my door. It could be Ed McMann telling me I already won something. It could be a criminal. Or it could be a new neighbor, soon to be a friend, introducing himself.

    How willing I am to open the door depends a lot on perceptions – how the person presents him/herself.

    (P.S. Found your blog via Chris Brogan’s twittering.)

  14. thanks for sharing your thoughts … learning the art of self promotion and building ones brand is something that i have really just begun to explore on a deeper level. the thoughts you provided definitely help move the conversation in my brain!

  15. Wow! Hey, thanks everyone for all your great comments. It’s amazing what one innocent tweet can create! I’m so glad you all found my post interesting, and rest assured I find your comments equally enthralling!

    I look forward to getting to know you, through Twitter or other means.

  16. “If we aren’t all out here “tooting”, then what are we doing?”

    Connecting, helping others.

    “When I update my blog, or my Twitter feed, or my Facebook page, am I not, in some way, promoting myself?”

    Sure. But not necessarily tooting your own horn. I can’t stand tooting my own horn. Horns are annoying. 🙂

  17. Tweets have brought new people to view my artwork but you are on target, it’s the comments on other people’s blogs that have brought me some wonderful connections. Do you use the words shameless self promotion every time?

  18. This is in reply to Mark. Well, my friend, and this is only my opinion, whether we are conversing on Twitter, putting up a profile of ourselves on Facebook or using Plurk (not me), etc., whether we like it or not, we are in some way promoting ourselves.

    It might not be for the purpose of selling something but then again, aren’t we always doing that? If you put up a profile on LinkedIn, you’re selling yourself, in hopes of making a connection with someone who might lead you to an opportunity of some sort, right?

    So, I beg to differ that we are not necessarily tooting our own horn – I think we’re doing that regardless since we’re putting ourselves up for worldly display. Some do it more aggressively then others but still it’s self promotion – no way around it.

    My two cents.

  19. Robin – I use “shameless self promotion” kind of tongue-in-cheek.

    As Stephen says, we are promoting ourselves whenever we are connecting with others online. It’s perhaps our motivations that are different – be it business connections/opportunities, to learn new things or, to have new friendships.

    What I think is most important is that our interactions are transparent and not over-bearing. The success I’ve had building business and personal relationships online has come mostly from just being myself.

  20. To be honest, I haven’t done much of self-promotion, until I graduated, when I really needed to do it. I really wish I had done it much sooner. I think LinkedIn is one of the better ways to do it.

  21. Great Post…

    I like your point on “The #1 Way to Shamelessly (and subtly) Self Promote”. Wow, 5 to 10 blogs per day. You get around!

    That’s good, usable advice. I’ll make sure to add you to my RSS and you’ll get a link from my “unselfish self promotion” blog.


    Jorge Olson

  22. Hey everyone – I think I’ve inadvertently learned another secret to successful Shameless Self Promotion – write a post about Shameless Self Promotion!

    Between Brogan, BizBox and now Jorge Olson (www.jorgeolson.com) this has become Suzemuse’s most read and commented-on post ever.

    Thanks for the link love, guys! You rock!

  23. Hi,

    I found this article by searching about shameless promotion, so this is a sign that your blog is well positioned concerning this matter.
    Although all of the things you mention are correct, I’ve come to the conclusion – everyone knows this already, of course – that the best thing to have visits built upon a good base, is quality content and regular updates.
    Also writing about something “exclusive” makes it more probable for the engines to find one’s website/blog ie. the number of people searching may not be so much, but there are less competitors.

    Kind regards,


  24. It was some shameless self promotion searching that lead me here as well.

    I am a tee shirt designer and try to eek out a meager living entering contest hither and yon. I find myself in need of votes, on a weekly if not daily basis. This makes me needy, and not in a good way. I don’t want to be a bear hugger, the thought of me being “that guy” makes me shrivel like a sun dried grape.

    I have even taken up the desperate tactic of airing out my financial wows in hopes of pity clicks.

    Thank you for the complementary advise.
    [rq=162846,0,blog][/rq]the cranium and the mandible

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