Promotion vs. Shameless Plug

It’s so very tempting. Drop that link, stuff a signature, or spam people’s blogs. But, when does something migrate from promotion to shameless plug and should we even worry about if it does?

First let me define how I see the terms promotion and shameless plug as variations on a theme.

To me, promotion is when you tell someone about your product, service, or website. Promotion in most cases is synonymous with advertising.

A shameless plug on the other hand is a form of promotion that somehow takes advantage of a situation to push your product, service or website.

The question is, “Is there really such a thing as a shameless plug anymore or has society just come to accept them more than they did in the past?”

My theory, at least when it comes to advertising on the Internet is that spam is today’s shameless plug and most everything else is fair game.

Think about how so many of us have signatures in forums. Every time we say something we follow it up with what is essentially, “Hey check out my cool website(s)!” This has become a standard practice and as a rule, we don’t much think about it as advertising. Take that same conversation into the real world and if every time someone said something they mentioned their website, whether or not it was pertinent to the conversation, they would become annoying quite quickly.

Signatures on emails are less shameless if you consider back in the days when all mail required a stamp, most business correspondence was done on letterhead.

How many of us have taken the opportunity in an online conversation or forum to drop a link to our sites? When it is in context with the conversation most find it acceptable. It’s still a form of promotion, but it has become so mainstream it no longer seems shameless. Again, I’m not talking about true spammers here as they prove time and again they have no shame.

So, do you think, at least on the Internet; it boils down to either it crossed the line into spam or it’s acceptable promotion? Or do you think there is a somewhat middle ground of the shameless plug? And how would you define a shameless plug by today’s standards?

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