I am an avid social media community member. I am also a search marketing professional, profoundly grateful to friends, associates, clients. With achievement and mistakes, I’ve always been proud of my avatars. I’m also well aware of the technical and tactical gaming activities that some “aggressive” gray and black hat SEM technicians employ to push ROI for clients.
We All Know How It Works
We all know about cross-site scripting, nested iFrame Crawlers with referrer header data disabled, illegal PM systems automation, vote grubbing, multiple shadow profiles, vote begging, vote whoring, bookmarking for pay, etc…Most of us have, at least lightly, dappled with the thought of light experimentation along those or similar lines out of curiosity. We all know some of the most famous social media marketing gurus game heavily…because it is inevitable…because it works…because it moves product. The ones I respect don’t cheat…at least I don’t think so.
Snakes, Chickens, and Monkeys
Ok; now think about it from the social community’s perspective. About 4 years ago some bright-light-hot-shot developer/visionary made up this mind-blowing software called a “social community” and got friends involved. It grew and got bigger, took on millennial character and grew long international legs. People fell in love and legends were born.
Content in the growing community became hyper-high-quality as did the people. Users became addicted whilst delicious new friendships were forged from London to Warsaw, New York to Duluth. Then…the marketers show up, conquistadors, sword at the belt.
The content became diluted, Spamblers BLASTED high page-counts into the queue aimed squarely at consumers. “Alters” (shadow accounts) showed up, with some marketers having dozens or even hundreds of accounts. Pretty soon, downright CRAP content began to bubble to the surface.
The Spamblers are here, SEM SPAM conquerors have arrived. Community as the community has always known unravels along the inevitable path to commercialism. Gamers game out loud and authentic users still share shell shocked amongst the noise…and there is SO much noise.
What To Do?
Can the two competing interests exist…the social community founders and the search marketing artists? Who knows but NOW THE NATIVES ARE PISSED. From their perspective the search marketing invaders RUINED the place…ESPECIALLY the gamers. They call for the death of evil SEMs. The SEMs either ignore the carnage or object on grounds of civility citing the TOS. It’s a war.
From the perspective of the community elders who spent years building profiles, the situation justifies extreme anger. From some search marketers’ vantage point, if ya’ don’t like it-LEAVE. Some search marketers know that creating quality content is the answer, in order to serve the community’s actual interests.
As an industry do we need to work towards preserving the integrity of the demographics we wish to harvest for our SMM clients if we want them to exist in the future? Do marketers have the ability to ruin communities, a power we may not always wield prudently?
I’m not judging the SEM industry. As long as there have been street corners, there have been pushcarts. A singular premise of the free world is the absolute RIGHT to congregate. However, in my estimation, marketers do NOT have the right to solicit ANY group of people wherever the space is not-designated as private. That said, speech IS free and I can pretty much say anything I want-If yall’ don’t like it, TAKE it inside for privacy, chicken egg/egg/chicken.
I’m not judging the pissed-off elders either. They make good points which highlight a fascinating conundrum.