This morning I was reading about an all too common strategy to online marketing: posting comment spam. It’s incredible how many companies believe this is a valid method of online marketing.

The Wrong Way

The theory goes something like this: find out where people are talking about your competitors and join the conversation by making those people aware of your product. What’s incredible is how much effort this takes. Spamming requires consistently monitoring the online conversations and then posting short comments. It’s insanely time consuming and doesn’t produce much return on investment. It’s a totally logical approach for someone who doesn’t understand online marketing. ## The Right Way

Unfortunately some people don’t understand the correct way to market: add value. Mint.com used their blog to gain traction in the marketplace. They produced original content about personal finance and were able to build a user base worth $170 million. They aren’t the only company to accomplish this. KISSmetrics and Flowtown have both used similar approaches.

The bottom line is that with all the time many companies invest in spammy activities, they could have just as easily developed some original content that attracted far more users.