This is something I just have to address. It’s bugging me big time. However, it’s not a subject that will work in a podcast, so get ready for a bit of a venting session and a warning for each of you who are considering using any of the techniques I share in this article.

Artificial Intelligence, aka AI, is taking over our communities. And it’s not just on Facebook. It’s not just the new messenger chat-bots showing up everywhere. It’s more dangerous than pushy apps. For me, the tipping point is all the fake sincerity, automated emails and other triggered messaging. It’s the hyper-formulaic over-stated rewards and values insisting you can make a fortune if you just take this course or buy this plugin or whatever.

It’s all the endorsements that are fueled entirely for affiliate payments. Try reading a review of just about anything, and most of the “review sites” have links to Amazon so they get a cut of whatever you buy. Which means they don’t really do a “review”. It’s more like a tour of choices with no caveats at all.

This growing industrial-sized communication “system” that is becoming a replacement for authentic engagements has reached out to me a few too many times lately.

Sadly, the really hard part (although it’s why I know it’s artificially generated) is I have been abused by AI and fake pitches from some people or businesses I really thought I could trust. A few of these were my go-to’s.

We all are all subjected to this “fake” world-wide-web and it’s half-truths nearly every day. However, this came from one of my most trusted sources:

Oh my goodness Mckenna,

As you know, registration for (a thing being sold) ends today at 7 pm Eastern US time.

Before we close our doors, I want to sincerely thank you. I do not take the blessing of your time and attention for granted.

THANK YOU for welcoming me into your inbox to share about how you can grow your business and life with  my offer.

THANK YOU for your smart questions, tweets, Instagram and Facebook comments and your beautiful emails. We’ve read each and every one!

(I have italicized and bolded that last section.)

My heart sunk. I felt my stomach turn slightly. I did none of those things. I had not been engaged at all. I had clicked on a few videos to “learn more”. But I never tweeted or took to Instagram, and I don’t even think I have been on this person’s FB page. I certainly never emailed this person.

But, it’s likely that many tens of thousands (this is a big player in the online marketing world) probably did do all those things or even one of those things. And they, who, like me, trust and care about this person’s point of view will all be delighted to learn that their very own emails were read and their other efforts were recognized.

But it was this next line, the last line, that was the kicker. This was what sent me over the edge and inspired this blog post:

THANK YOU for being brave, kind and wholeheartedly ambitious.

I cursed under my breath at that last line.

And then, I decided to be brave, kind, and wholeheartedly ambitious and to share this. Not via tweets or FB, but directly to each of you.

I want you to know, that I work very hard to NOT be a purveyor of sleazy marketing techniques. And I want you to “just say no” to using those or any of a myriad of techniques to move your marketing forward and to make a living selling your art in the cyberspace we all share.

It’s not easy to be real on the internet

There are tricks and schemes around every corner. I use a tiny bit myself. For example, I always want artists who join my list to include their first name. That’s because when I send you an email, I can use your first name and that makes the connection just a bit more human.

It’s pretty harmless, yes? However, it’s so ubiquitous I would feel naked not sending you an email and not using your name. I really want to feel connected and that “feels” good to me to use your name.

Meanwhile, emails come into my box (like the outrageous example above) all day long that give me pause. I see the scheming/manipulative way they are written. But, I often still want to be in touch. If I unsubscribed from everyone who was a little disingenuous (or a lot) in their messages, I wouldn’t have many emails left to read. (Sad but true.)

I still want to know about opportunities these various businesses and influencers can provide. And so, I just take a breath and ignore the puffery. I take the good with the bad and forgive and forget.

However, I am still reeling by a “feature” I saw recently on an appointment app I was considering. As many of you know, I have a page you can visit to make an appointment with me. It’s a pretty robust system and I like it a lot, but it’s pricey. Recently, a favorite company that I do lots of business with developed their own appointment system. And it’s free. Cool!

So, I started creating some basic steps to lead to creating a page on my site and then I got to the bottom of the set-ups and discovered this “extra” setting:

is everything set up to fool us?

Note that it defaults to show you as “Slightly Busy”. Are you as shocked as I am? Or are we all just numb by now? Is there anything going on in the online world that can be trusted anymore?

Whatcha Gonna Do?

It’s tempting, right? Heck yes, it is. It’s tempting to “appear” more important, more valuable, more collectible, more hard-working, and (we all believe this about ourselves) more busy than most of the rest of the world. We are all subjected to these little white lies. We all engage in a little bit of puffery from time to time.

However, nowadays it seems that a little puffery is morphed into seeing how many people you can scoop up into a system using all kinds of white lies and trickery. Free webinars are everywhere giving you “hope” that you will finally figure out how to use Instagram (or Facebook Ads, or, fill in the blank) and make more sales.

And it’s not just “more sales”. It seems everyone can help you achieve “six figures” nowadays.

It’s a formula –  a marketing template. It’s a tried and true way to get people to buy in. There is always a money-back guarantee. But even then, there is often a catch.

So before you spend your hard-earned money, just remember that the strategies they will teach you are the ones they used to get your information. Pay attention to how they are connecting with you. Are you just another email they gathered up or is this a trusted source you have followed for a long time?

Hey… how about this old idea: Treat others as you would want to be treated. No one likes to be lied to or manipulated. So, no matter how tempting, just avoid the gimmicks. Do not lie and do not purposefully deceive people or use other people’s data without permission. (Are you listening, Mr. Zuckerberg?)

How to be real, trusted, and gain more followers organically.

Number One: Make sure that your website doesn’t ask people for their email addresses without telling them that you will be sending them emails. They need to know that you are asking to stay in touch. They need to know what you intend to do with their data. This is only going to become a bigger and bigger liability for anyone who isn’t clearly stating their purpose for collecting data.

Number Two: For those of you who teach classes, make sure you have a separate email list. Don’t send information about classes you teach to people who signed up for news about new work and the like and vice versa. Your email sign-up should be able to ask people what interests them. Some will want both, but if they didn’t sign-up for a specific topic, they will feel used by your attempt to give them information they never signed up to receive. (Here’s what mine looks like for example.)

Number Three: Add Privacy and Cookies policies to your site. It’s just a matter of time before you will stick out like a sore thumb if you don’t have these policies in place. You will be untrustworthy without those.

Number Four: Change your copyright date to 2019! LOL… just saw one today from 2015. The impression is less than good if visitors aren’t sure if you are even still in business online!

Just be caring and sharing your best and most authentic self.

Now… go rant in the comments. I am sure you have some stories to tell!

PS: As promised in my email, here’s the link to my just-released podcast: Purposeful Sharing


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