By Li Evans
I've been chewing on some thoughts lately. These thoughts circle around social media and search marketing professionals claiming to be experts in this vast huge universe that involves social news, forums, micro-blogging, blogs and many, many more channels of engagement. I was dismayed at some things that were presented on the Social Media Success panel in Toronto at SES.
Along with that, I was just flabbergasted at a submission on Sphinn about gaming Twitter for "do follow" links. It wasn't so much the fact that someone wrote this post. Nickycakes is a great programmer and does come up with some time saving ideas, so naturally if he sees opportunities from his frame of mind (being a reformed black hat and all) he's going to write about it.
However, what really made my jaw drop was who all Sphunn this article to put it to the front page. People who I have greatly respected and thought they were pretty honest when it came to doing things in social media. But here they were promoting something that pretty clearly is something that would "spam" a social media channel.
I asked David Harry why he sphunn it, and he said that "social media spammers that proudly OUT their Twitter spamming tactics won't be around long if we PUBLICIZE the exploit." David makes an excellent point there, perhaps a few are of like mind with him. But I still couldn't get over who sphunn this up after it "went hot" and was well publicized.
It all just has my mind churning, and I still do not get why people need to game social media.
Take the tactic of "Vanity Baiting" for example. This tactic, used by SEO's, made me stop and question everything that was said to me in the past by SEO's who now seem to be "overly gracious" with their comments. Have I been "baited" for months with this vanity baiting tactic? How can I trust anyone who uses this tactic, that they are being truthful with their compliments going forward? Was any of that real, or was that to get me to stumble, read, sphinn, and link to them? If it was, it worked in the past because I have done all of that, now though I will have to think twice, because the trust that was there, is now gone.
What about gaming Twitter for backlinks? Seems harmless? Think again. If you get found out as a spammer on Twitter (and now Plurk), the community bands together and not only reports your to the respective services, but the community shuns you. Sure you may have your other spammer friends to follow you, but will anyone else? Likely not, then what good is gaming Twitter?
What about multiple accounts on social media news and bookmarking services? Think it's all about the "avatar"? Think again. It's about the human, and again, if you are found out to be building fake accounts - i.e. claiming to be a 43 year old mom of 3 who loves cooking, scrapbooking and knitting, when you are really a 30 something man, who's spamming the scrapbooking folks with your fake profile/avatar, all hell's going to break loose when those people you befriended through the bot you created, figure out your spamming them. But hey! What's a few profiles to burn down, right? Trouble is all that time spent "faking it" could have been spent being real and making real connections that gain you much more than links.
Want to know what's the saddest thing about all of this is to me? None of these tactics are ever discussed in the social media channels where social media practitioners are active. In fact, most of them are horrified that people not only do this, but strategize for their clients to do this. They think of people who suggest such things, and tell people and clients to do these things are Spammers and Manipulators.
These tactics are pretty much only discussed and promoted in the search marketing sphere of online marketing. That folks, really saddens me.
I don't believe a lot of SEO's want to manipulate Social Media or be likened to a spammer. Unfortunately with tactics and blog posts like I demonstrated above, that are not only being presented, but promoted within the Search Industry, the people outside of the Search Industry are lumping us all together. Think of that, the next time you meet someone at a social media event and say "I'm a search marketer" and they seem to not really want to associate with you, or look at you like you have the plague.
Hattips to Jennifer Laycock, Elizabeth Able, Mack Collier and David Harry for helping me out with this.