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The fine line between advertising and promoting

You see it all the time - someone starts a page about liking puppies, and the next thing you know it's a mass of promotions for dog food. Inevitably the moderator starts a confrontation, stating that it isn't a "commercial" page, and it just gets, well, kind'a unpleasant.

There is indeed a fine line between advertising and promotion. Done correctly, promotion can be cool. Done poorly, it's a mess. I just started a Google+ page about cycads this morning, and have written that it's OK to promote sales of cycads and stuff related to cycads there.

It's a pretty small step from posting beautiful photos of cycads to posting information about their care and feeding and where you can buy them. I'm a marketing guy, so I'm curious to see how well I will be able to control this. I've seen pages like this on Facebook get out of control very fast. But, let's be fair, if someone is interested in cycads, why not tell them where they can buy them in the Phoenix area, or what fertilizer is best to use in alkaline soils? And I mean real brand names and real businesses.

Promotion like this is the future of advertising on the web. And personally, I like this type of advertising. I liked knowing that James Bond drove an Aston-Martin and wore a Rolex. Sure, these companies paid to have their stuff promoted, but it was done so well!

I'll let you know how it goes.