On Saturday morning, while on the New tab of Hacker News, I saw a submission from my friend and office mate Andrew Wicklander. Andrew submitted a blog post written by his wife Maile Wicklander explaining why she will not be using Groupon for her new yoga studio.
Always a sucker for a Groupon discussion/debate, I read Maile’s post and write a lengthy response in the Blogger comment box. When I go to submit my lengthy comment, I am shocked to see the dated options for posting comment on Blogger. I don’t see the options I am accustomed to from commenting on blogs powered by other services such as WordPress.org, WordPress.com, Posterous and Tumblr. Instead I see a list of services that does not look as thought it has been updated since 2006:
- Google Account
- Live Journal
First I try WordPress, because as someone that makes a living as a WordPress Developer, I am partial. The WordPress option, which is only for WordPress.com profiles, not WordPress.org profiles takes me to a page telling me I have to sign-in to WordPress.com without actually giving me a link to do so (image below). I open a new tab and sign in to WordPress.com and then refresh the Blogger comment tab and my comment is gone. Frustrating, but it happens.
So I rewrite my comment, consolidating my original comment into a shorter version that I think still conveys my original response. The rewritten comment is this:
I think Groupon is a guaranteed and low effort marketing platform for businesses. Every new customer has a cost of acquisition. The smarter and more efficient your marketing efforts the lower that cost. Groupon can be the best thing in the world for new or existing businesses that do not have a marketing plan (shame on them). I am not endorsing Groupon, but it is easy to say, I am not going to do X.
So my question is: What are you going to do instead?
How can you get the name and philosophy of your new yoga studio in front of your target audience to get the monthly memberships sold without taking a 50% cost of acquisition hit?
I post the re-written comment using my Google Account. I had actually recently migrated/merged my personal Google account that was using the same email address as my Google Apps account. So I just signed into Google with my Google Apps login and it had me create a new Blogger profile. I don’t think anything of it and continue on with my day.
Fast forward several hours later, I receive a reply on Twitter asking if I was really the one that wrote a comment on Mailie’s blog.
Thinking that is a little strange I go back to the Hacker News thread that is now on the front page of HN. Imagine my surprise when the first comment on Hacker News is accusing me of being a “Groupon sockpuppet”.
Didn’t take long for a Groupon sockpuppet to show up in the comments:
Rachel Baker said…
I think Groupon is a guaranteed and low effort marketing platform for businesses. Every new customer has a cost of acquisition. The smarter and more efficient your marketing efforts the lower that cost. Groupon can be the best thing in the world…
Rachel Baker User Stats
On Blogger Since August 2011
Profile Views (approximate) 7
And it didn’t stop there. The speculation continued on whether or not I was paid by Groupon to comment on Groupon related blog posts.
agree being that Groupon originated in Chicago, she could just be a supporter / sockpuppet.
True, I didn’t know for a fact that Rachel Baker was a sockpuppet but she sure looked and sounded like one. If she had linked her consulting website profile to her freshly minted Blogger profile, I probably wouldn’t have jumped to that conclusion.
Was I uncivil? Some might argue polluting blog comments with marketing pabulum is uncivil. I just thought it was kind of interesting, indicative perhaps of where Groupon invests some of its resources.
The crazy thing is, I didn’t think I sounded like I was PRO-Groupon at all. I think it is much more valuable to say what you are not going to do or are doing, instead of or in addition to why you have ruled out something. That coupled with my belief that Groupon is not a substitution for a marketing plan for any businesses was what I tried to convey with my comment.
I do not work for Groupon. I never have, and I never will. I have already worked for a failed start-up (Kozmo.com) that grew too quickly and burned through VC cash like it was going out of style. Now I focusing on slowly building my own little web development business.