Social Media Marketing (A Warning)

Social Media properties just may be the focus of the next big "slap". While its both popular and profitable right now, it seems obvious that in short time the people who are using them right will excel... and those who are simply using social media 'for promotion only' will find their success short-lived...

If you've been working online for any amount of time then you're probably familiar with Google Slaps, or with getting blacklisted and/or dropped out of the search engine results for using aggressive self-promotion tactics.

In What happens if your site gets 'blacklisted' by Google? Robin Goad shares the impact that this can have on an online business. In case you havent experienced it for yourself, that's a good article to read.

Over the years there have been many 'slaps' and Google updates, necessary for a variety of reasons. Google's goal is to keep their search results relevant and to weed out the "spam" or the junk. It only makes sense, given the current nature of the Internet Marketing landscape, to assume that Social Media practices will take a hit in an upcoming update.

Charles Heflin recently discussed Footprints Left by Social Marketing on his blog, which is well worth a quick read. (thanks goes to Rob Sellen for sharing that link with me on Twitter last week) The term "footprints" refers to the digital traces that we leave everywhere that we go online. See Digital Footprints on Wikipedia.

As it relates to Social Media, consider the footprints you may be leaving. Charles gives us a list to consider in his article:

Here is a list of actions that leave big footprints…

1. Setting up multiple profiles on the same social network all pointing to the same website.
2. Using software that automates the process of bookmarking your content across multiple profiles on multiple different networks.
3. Only bookmarking content that leads to web properties that you own.
4. You have little to no friends and a bunch of links to your stuff
5. You have bookmarked a bookmark that leads to your web property
6. You have more than one profile on a single social network and they all lead to web properties that you own.

You may want to look over that list a second time. Even if you arent doing any of those things, consider things you may be doing that are similar in nature or could possibly leave a 'footprint' that will come back to slap you.

The general rule of thumb is this: If you would do it even if you didnt own a website, its fine to do it. If the only reason you are doing it is to promote your website and/or get better search engine rankings, there could be an issue with it.

It's a fine line I know. We are all here to promote our online business and to get better rankings and more traffic...

In the next post, we'll discuss ways you can run a successful Social Media campaign - or use the Social Media properties to grow your online business - without setting yourself up to get blacklisted.

Next: How to Use Social Media... Successfully

Best,

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»

Discussion

  1. John Dilbeck says:

    Hi Lynn,

    This is a very interesting post that leads me to examine how I use social networking more closely.

    I don't do the things in the list you wrote about, but I am more likely to promote my sites than I am to link to other sites. It's something that bears examination.

    I'm looking forward to your next post about how to run a successful social media campaign without getting Google's attention in a very bad way.

    I don't think I'm in danger, but this is something we should be aware of.

    Act on your dream!

    JD

  2. Dan Reinhold says:

    This is NOT very "Last Minute Lynn" of you!

    I'll bet you're right. I see spam complaints on Twitter nearly every time I peek.

    Thank goodness I haven't dealt with spam there yet.

    Got my attention!!

  3. Good post, Lynn!
    I think you did clearly explain how to differentiate between using it appropriately or in a way that could possibly earn you a slap.
    I'm looking forward to your advice on using social media to benefit your business!

  4. The Story Ideas Virtuoso says:

    Lynn,

    This is timely for me. As I'm about to start using social media more, especially as a way to bring attention to my sites, I needed to hear this so I don't make these mistakes.

    Thanks, as always, for providing such great content for your readers. We love you for it!

    Deb Gallardo

  5. Hi Lynn,

    Thank you for that credit 🙂 ,Ii found it an interesting read and knew it would be of interest to you. and your readers.

    I was going to blog about it very similar to what you said here but you would probably say it better anyway. 😉

    Interesting to note that we can also leave a positive footprint.

    The fact some of us use the same name, or picture across many social media can be a good thing.

    That's getting into the branding side of things though. 🙂

    We all should never underestimate the footprint we leave behind online.

    Thanks again, great post.

    Take care.

    Rob

  6. It's interesting that you should post this. We just talked about this very subject in a Forum I belong to. I am quickly learning that there are a number of people I've come in contact with who have abused the whole social media concept. Then you have people who are totally clueless as to why they're on a certain site---other than someone told them that's where they should be.

    I'd rather be able to work one or two sites well than to have six or seven and never accomplish anything---or worst yet, gain a reputation for being a social media hacker.

  7. I'm actually preparing the next post for this series now, so I appreciate your comments & feedback here (keep it coming!)...

    Rob, you're right that we can leave a positive footprint (re:branding) as you mentioned - and that's important too. The goal is not to "hide from Google" but rather to run the type of business that you can run transparently, without concern.

    Beverly - you made a great point when you mentioned that some people are totally clueless. A lot of times we read a "tip" that says we should go here and do this and go there and do that. Without having a PLAN, we could easily follow those blind tips only to end up "slapped" or otherwise penalized. It pays to know how things work and why, and how you can implement it correctly for your unique business model.

    That's what we'll explore in the next post. And I have some great tips for you that will help you avoid leaving that negative breadcrumb trail 😉

  8. Beverly, good point and I think you are correct. There are some who might only use the sites as they've seen others use or have been told by others.

  9. For a ("clueless") beginner absorbing lots of information on web marketing, this is direction-adjusting thought food. There's a good deal of beginner tutorial info out there (including a recent high-profile course that comes to mind) promoting the idea of setting up social networking profiles and bookmarking for the purpose of hastening search standing. While that can probably be done without violating any of the 6 considerations mentioned above, a newbie should be very careful with this stuff. I've read plenty of forum stories about bannings and listing drops lately. With Google starting a crackdown in the next months, I suspect the ball game will change considerably.
    I have to agree with Charles Heflin that the most foolproof way to utilize social networking is not for anonymous short term efforts, but for reputation/brand establishment over the long-term. Seth Godin's "Fashion/Permission Complex" idea fits social network usage perfectly. I'm thinking social networking may be best used for long-term personal market cultivation rather than for immediate search positioning.

  10. Tamo Willsat says:

    Hi Lynn
    Thanks for this heads up. As you know, social marketing is one of the core strategies of the 30 Day Challenge, which has been one of my main sources of IM education-which I discover through you 🙂 - to date. I was wondering if you had any comment about how they teach it in relation to this warning. For example the do recommend a social bookmarking site to quickly bookmark on several different (as many as 40 though Ed Dale recommend just a few key ones) but not from multiple profiles.

  11. Margaret Hampton says:

    Thanks for your "words to the wise" and the link to Charles Heflin's excellent posts. Clearly, among other things, it's important to remember to bookmark related pages of others every time we bookmark one of our own, so we're not seen as self-serving. So we're not making a big footprint.

    Clearly, "social" and "community" and "networking" are operative words. People do not want to be bombarded with more ads and sold. But they do have a need for relationships. And they do want to do business with people they trust.

    So your advice to build relationships on the social sites is important... friending other people, joining groups, and commenting on those other places, and with personal notes to your new friends. (Some even become REAL friends!) Helps build your name recognition and trust, while showing the SERPs you are there to be a real part of the community, not a "gamer."

    I love Heflin's whiteboard example for the valuable free offer for community members... then the autoresponder series with valuable content and ultimately solutions (product) after trust is built. Then the people will bookmark you... and THEY will add backlinks for you. No Big Foot!

    Now to go spend more time fluffing out those profiles better and joining more groups... as I look forward to the rest of your social media great insights this week!

  12. Timely for me as well, and I also agree with John...I think self examination is first order.

    I'm a little surprised Google hasn't "noticed" up to this point.

  13. Oh they've noticed 😉 Google has a tendency (if you've watched past updates) to allow things to go on for a bit before dropping the hammer. My best guess is that this is how they collect data and watch trends...

  14. Hey, Lynn!
    This is a great post! Thank you so much. Fortunately I don't seem to be in danger. I am really looking forward to learning from your next post. "See you" then! :o)

    Live joyfully!
    Janis

  15. Katherine Reschke says:

    Twitter have now made all links with the nofollow rel precisely because of multiple accounts and spammy self-promotion. "Black Hat" techniques are always short lived and the changes will always hurt some innocent people. All SEO techniques are manipulative in intent and so search engines who want to provide quality searches for their users will continue to combat as many manipulations as possible.

  16. I've been screaming "Web 2.0 is a scam" for ages.

    Now I don't really think it's a scam, but the way people use it is very spammish in nature.

    I prefer to get a following, or get bookmarked because people genuinely dig the stuff, not because my bot did it, or a group of $1.30 an hour outsourcers did it.

    Google is wicked smart, and I don't think in the long haul it's a wise move to try and game search engine rankings in any way.

    Providing great value (not article spinners, or outsourced $3 articles) is the way to go in my mind.

    Sadly, most marketers don't have the talent to come up with anything that's even worthy of a bookmark or a Digg, or a Stumble etc..

    I think the philosophy I've always held will be very beneficial for me this year, next year, and ten years from now.

    Longevity seems to me a much better path then a quick hit spam fest.

    Cheers,

    Jason

  17. Joyce Aldawood says:

    I guess that I am just a babe in the woods- but I have all I can do to maintain a single account at different social sites! I am looking forward to your post about what to do. I, too, echo Beverly's post.

  18. Hi Lynn,
    I want to ask before I open my mouth and insert foot (which I can be rather good at ;).

    I am guessing that you are also referring to social networking sites such as the NING's, Facebook, and plain old Forums?

    Since places like Stumble Upon, Digg... seem to be the main focus of most other articles talking about this same basic thing.
    I'll check back,
    Sheryl

  19. Absolutely Sheryl. The important thing is that you take note of the strategies and the trends, and instead of taking them literally... look at how you can apply what you learn across the board, with what you are doing (or using) in your own business model or marketing plan.

    So for example, if I say "when you post content on..." it will apply to posting content on forums, micro-blogging services, in blog comments, in profiles on social media sites, etc, etc, etc. Make sense?

  20. Thanks Lynn,
    Because I am an Old Forum gal, I just wanted to make sure when I tell people to get their butts over here and read this BEFORE they get slapped that I can let them know it DOES apply to those areas.
    I guess the word forum is seldom used anymore when talking about social networking or marketing. (Forums are still my fav).

    I do hope that the true spammers get slapped and change their ways when it no longer works. It would save me allot of time deleting. I'm sure you have the same thing on your forum.

    I look forward to the next step.
    Sheryl

  21. That footprints concept is genius - and relevant to say the least.

    It can relate to anything we do really, and the scary part is that the web has become such a regular extension of our daily lives that I believe very few people even stop to think about what they are imprinting online, and how it could effect them...

  22. I agree Elijah! And Sheryl - Forums are still a wealth of information, and incredibly resourceful. I'm with you on that one!

    In case you guys missed it, Part 2 is up at:
    http://www.clicknewz.com/1689/how-to-use-social-media-successfully/

    See you there 😉

  23. Lynn,

    Great post. Now I am going to go to part2. I am going to reblog part of this and send people back here.

    See you tomorrow!

    Sally

    http://www.drsallywitt.com

  24. Yes - tomorrow is going to be fun! We're talking about the live webinar I host every Tuesday. And this week I'm bringing on Scott Stratten as a special guest to talk about UN-marketing. Right in tune with this weeks series of course 😉

    Here's the link to register if you arent already on the list to get free access: http://www.selfstartersweeklytips.com/webinars.htm

    See you there!

  25. Peter Trapanese says:

    I have to say that this type of information is in line with my thoughts regarding my caution to step into anything without a solid foundation. I am biting at the bit to start using the limited education I have acquired this past year, and then I read the message here and thank God I have finally gained some semblance of patients.

    Their was a time some years ago that I would have jumped, and then thought without thinking at all till it was to late if that makes any sense.

  26. It is interesting that the timing of certain blog posts work out the way they do.

    I had actually read on a forum earlier this week about Charles Heflin and social marketing footprints, and it is something we should all look out for.

    On the other hand, if we are following the rules anyway, 99% of us shouldn't really have a problem at all.

    All it really comes down to is reading the instructions (though some of us don't really care to do it).

    I look forward to reading the next post 🙂

  27. Alan (new baby help guide now available) says:

    Just as a side point, it's worth remembering that everything we do online leaves a footprint. Although it's unlikely that anyone would, it is theoretically possible (and not that difficult) to follow a trace of your web surfing, your buying, your blogging, your bookmarking, your e-mails, etc, etc.

    Don't assume any privacy or anonymity when you're online. You can be traced, and you leave a trail of everything you did.

    Sounds a bit 1984ish doesn't it? Still, that's the world we've created, like it or not.

    Ta ra
    Alan

  28. This really makes me think about all the Squidoo lenses - how we were advised to Lensroll all our lenses to each other and then add a few others to each lens... but still, there's that web! And what about the modules for showcasing your lenses (up to 5 per module)?

    In real life, it's not spamming to help your visitors by providing the links WHEN each lens is developed with extensive, valuable information / teaching CONTENT and complementary of the others, not duplicative... related topics, not the same thing rehashed... and should appeal to the same audience or solve other problems the same audience might have.

    BUT will the bots make that distinction? Will they know it's not spammy, rehashed stuff? Do we need somehow to "un-lensroll" a lot of them? This has me concerned....

    Or will the difference in most of the keywords for the different lenses save us?

    Deep linking is another important issue. I think back to just getting started and putting a website's link in lots of directories and reciprocal links... all with the same or substantially similar text, and all linking to the home page!

    Do we need to retrace our steps and "undo" a lot, or just be cautious going forward as we've been learning to do over the past year? It's a real concern...

  29. The problem is... not everyone knows its "wrong" or potentially "spam" when they're doing it. They were just told its a great thing to do. So the goal here is to educate about the dangers, and then give detailed instructions for how to use all these great services. Just wanted to clarify that I dont think anyone is "dumb" or a "spammer" for doing any of these things the wrong way - we all learn as we go 😉

  30. Margaret - GREAT question! I actually heard from Jerry West on that very point, so I'll share with you what I learned from him: Dont undo what you've already done, just add to it. So lets say you've over-optimized your web page for example. Instead of removing some of those links, just get NEW inbound links that arent so heavily optimized ("click here" or varying anchor text) to offset the over-opt and balance it back out. Make sense?

    When Google did the last "squidoo slap" it affect the people who relied heavily on their squidoo links. Your goal should be to make sure you have a more natural variety and that you arent dependent on any one "strategy" or source.

    So dont undo, just do more 😉

  31. It is natures way to bring things back into balance. When a new system comes up there is always a flood of people that exploit the hell out of it, but in the end it's those with real talent,and ethics that survive.

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