Smoke blowers

Evil winds!, originally uploaded by Bob Goyetche.

We see them. We know them. By accident, some of them became our friends on facebook, there are websites dedicated to them.

Smoke blowers.

Some seem to think that blowing smoke up someone’s ass is a new thing, and an evil that social media has created. In fact, the expression itself comes from an 1800’s medical practice where it was thought to be beneficial to literally blow smoke into someone’s rectum to cure everything from death to the inability to get thousands of followers on twitter.

As time progressed, and medical knowledge increased (not to mention all the short-of-breath doctors and new twitter-tools), the practice fell into disuse, and the expression came to mean complementing in an insincere or extreme manner..

In attempts to “join the conversation” and “be loved by millions”, the temptation is to comment on as many blogs as possible, and possibly to write linkbait-ish posts on your own blog where you complement the crap out of A-list social media personalities on everything from their facial hair to the sermon they just delivered on their blog.

Here’s the thing, not only does it not add value, it makes you look like a smoke-blower. This, is not the desired outcome.

To join a conversation without blowing smoke, try to make sure you’ve got :

  • something to add, not just a link
  • a real opinion – maybe even throw in some facts
  • Ideally, your own opinion – oh, this is getting harder.
  • an absence of enema-helping machinery – should be easy.

Smoke Blowing ™ is the social media equivalent to the “SEO pile-on“. Go to a big name blogger’s site, and you will see 124 comments per post, most of them hoping to suck some traffic back to their little blog where they pretend the big ideas came from them.  Of those 124 comments, a discouragingly high percentage (let’s say 70%) are either SEO pile-ons or smoke blowers. The other 30% is where you want to be.

The best way to suck that traffic back, if that’s really your goal, is to comment something intelligent, and make the reader of your comment think “Hmmm, I’d like to know more about what this person thinks”..

If you’re blowing smoke, they won’t be drawn to you, or once they get to your blog, they’ll just see more smoke.

And when the smoke clears, they’ll see you’re a tool,

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  1. Patrick says:

    Hey Rob,

    That was a really great article. I really enjoyed reading it. I have to say I love what you’ve done with the website. Very progressive and informative.

  2. Morrie says:

    Bob, its interesting that your “Smoke Blowers” post went up on 14/7, some 220 years after a mob of Parisians sent a haze of smoke, a slash of steel and a foment of revolution against their “so called” betters and turned Europe on its head, so a belated 14th July to that great nation. But I’m confused, bloggers and podcasters are always looking for comment, feedback or response to their posts. Are you saying it’s not cool for someone to genuinely say “Hey, I like what you wrote, well done”, or are you just having a go at the linkbaiters and glory hounds who have successfully driven me away from a couple of the early podcasts I listened to back in ’04, but which gradually went down hill, in no small part because of the endlessness of excessive, insincere praise. I don’t believe in “faint praise” and try to stay away from trolls and such, but if I enjoy something, for whatever reason, I like to acknowledge that enjoyment, even if its just a simple “well done”, without he risk of being called a “smoke blower”.

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