The online marketing space is interesting to say the least. Today I’m particularly thinking of people with podcasts and to a lesser extent blogs.

In a time when authenticity and trust are key to building relationships I’m surprised at the lack of follow-through or consistency. I don’t understand how you can proclaim in every email or podcast that you “want to hear from people” and how valuable you are to them, but when you contact them or make an episode suggestion as they’ve requested you don’t hear anything back.

Occasionally I put people to the test by sending an email or filling out a contact form when someone makes these requests. It’s my test of how genuine they are. I can’t seem to find any rhyme or reason to who writes back.

I learned a valuable lesson at a conference last year–the warmth and friendliness someone projects behind a microphone is not necessarily who they are in person or maybe even who they are when they aren’t podcasting. One conversation I had with a well known podcaster was downright awkward.

The person that continues to blow my mind in this space is Chris Brogan. I have never had him not return an my email. He must get a bazillion emails a day, particularly because he constantly asks people to write to him and tell him what is going on AND because he writes back.

Chris must have some special system that works for him. He doesn’t do the email address that goes to a ticketing system because he makes it simple, “Just reply to this email. I want to hear from you. I’ll write back.”  And he does!

The most consistent red flag I see is stuff like,

Tell us what you thought of this episode by sending email to Suggest a topic for a future show or leave your thoughts. We value our listeners and will address your question on our next episode.

First the “support” email alias is impersonal. I’m not writing to you for “support.” Is your operation really that big that you need a ticketing system to keep everything organized?

Second it gives the appearance that you’ve “outsourced” the interactions you say value most. With one popular podcaster, I filed a variety of tickets and multiple interactions with the person manning the support tickets. Some of the interactions were so lame I seriously wondered how their show and business was doing as well as it made itself out to be.

It was frustrating to feel that there was no real way to actually reach this person who had put themselves out there as being available and wanting to interact with their listeners.