When You Make A Living From Your Site, Fans Are Also Customers

I attended a SXSWi panel with a dubious title yesterday, “Online Adulation: Use Don’t Abuse Your Fans.” Look at those verbs. “Use.” “Abuse.” Not good.
There was one true blogebrity on the panel and sadly she conveyed, perhaps unintentionally, what a hassle it is to be so popular. I don’t doubt for a second that it is a hassle, for blogebrities don’t have people around them to deflect the constant stream of requests on their time and attention like an actor or rock star might.
Yet, because blogs are the centerpiece of social media today, we expect bloggers to be social. Thankfully, the moderator of this panel, Tom Merritt of c|net, provided a nice counterbalance to the blogebrity.
Merritt said he responds to critical emails, which often makes for better fans. He also said, “Good audience relations is good customer service.”
Of course, Merritt is representing a business, not just himself, so he has the additional responsibility of speaking for the c|net brand. But I get the sense that he’d go the extra mile, even if he wasn’t.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Tom Merritt is the truth. I had an issue about something that a guest host said on CNET’s Buzz Out Loud podcast (which features Tom Merritt and Molly Wood), and he gave a great response demonstrating empathy and understanding. I agree that Tom would treat those who follow him with great customer service whether he represented CNET or just his own personal brand.

  2. Thanks David, and thanks Anjuan. I hope so. It’s surprising how often companies large and small make the mistake of not listening to their audience. So your supposition that I take the audience-customer service line to heart because I work at a company, made me chuckle a bit. Ive had many arguments at pretty much every place I’ve worked over just that very matter.
    But I’m glad you liked the panel!!