As a business owner that understands the power of social media, it can be quite tempting to pay for likes, tweets, and other promotions from others – especially when the content you’ve released doesn’t seem to pick up traction.
You think to yourself there isn’t anything wrong with getting your content out there, especially if it’s good, but when you hand over that promotion to others doing black hat social media, you are placing your business into a dangerous situation.
A look into black hat social media
The term “Black Hat” has been around for some time and was mostly associated with those using unethical strategies to do search engine optimization (trying to game the system). This idea has made its way to social media through similar actions that are offered in order to game the system (and generally goes against the terms of service and industry best practices).
Some of the common types of black hat social media you’ll find include:
- Paying individuals (or companies) to like, comment, subscribe, and click through your shares.
- Using automated programs to find and unfollow subscribers.
- Creating fake negative reviews toward your competitors.
The list goes on and on – basically… if you’re paying to improve the social signals, you are flirting with black hat social media and could be on your way to a major slap from the search engines.
There are many concerns with this rise in black hat tactics to gain social signals. For one, there is the fact that by purchasing engagement, you are creating a false sense of authority. Legitimate and fake reviews meant to bolster your business (or to attack others) is unethical and does massive damage to brands considering 88% of consumers use online reviews when selecting a business.
Businesses must remember that Google (and other search engines) monitor traffic to an unbelievable degree so when there is a jump (such as if you purchased thousands of video views), it flags their system and will show that the growth was not organic.
Since social is increasingly becoming a major form of traffic and referrals, it makes sense that so many businesses would want to get as much as they can out of the platforms in a quick fashion.
Doing so, though, has its consequences…
This is why it doesn’t pay
There are three pillars of success when operating a business:
When you begin to fake the engagement, you amass a following of fake people; discussions are detracted because the real fans can see through the B.S. and once that veil has been removed, it’s very difficult for people to trust your authenticity.
The second negative effect of all this black hat social media is that once you’re exposed, it will make people question other aspects of your business that may have been shady and that leads to a drop in your credibility. Once people stop believing you, then you’re likely to go belly up because they aren’t going to trust what you have to say.
Of course reputation is on the line, too. The goal of marketing is to create a great reputation since having one let’s all other benefits fall into place (more sales, lifetime customers, amassing referrals, and so much more). When you build your reputation on fake accounts and engagement, you’re building your business on a throne of lies. Get exposed and it will all come crashing down.
Oh… it also doesn’t turn a profit.
Sure your fan page may have tens of thousands of followers that you purchased through some service, but these individuals (most of them bots) will NEVER engage with your brand. The point of social is to CONNECT with real people so you can gain real feedback.
You’re not going to sell your products or service to a fake account so it becomes a big waste of time.
What you need to do
It may not sound like the most attractive strategy but just take it slow.
Sure it can be frustrating seeing your competitors with thousands of followers, shares, and retweets on their content, but you don’t know if it’s one big fake. Are they really engaging their audience, building their brand, and selling units? Probably not.
It’s best to take it slow and build your audience around people that do want to participate and be part of the community. You want to encourage followers to become brand ambassadors. You want real people to provide real reviews, feedback, and suggestions that will grow your business, instead of just artificially inflating the numbers so you can say you “went viral.”
If you’re itching to make big moves, then seek professionals that know how it’s properly done rather than passing off a job to someone overseas that runs bots and conducts bad black hat practices.
Need some direction? Get in touch with us at adQuadrant and we will be delighted to keep you from going to the dark side in your social media marketing.
Image by lightfoot