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?

Paved Paradise
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.

  • Marios Alexandrou

    Is this post connected to John Andrew’s most recent post about someone gathering Sphinns and planning to desphinn his greatest hits post to claim the top spot? Seems like quite the coincidence.

  • Marty Weintraub

    @ Marios, no, this story came about as result of this thread over in Read the post and follow the links for a real adventure.

  • Marios Alexandrou


    I actually checked out the thread about SU earlier thanks to Sphinn. That is quite the crazy story I have to say. Kind of puts things like someone being burnt out from the conference circuit or a misguided post about links from a popular magazine wiki into perspective.

    By the way, if you’ve got a Google alert on your name, you should be receiving a link to my latest post soon 🙂

  • Imogen Laing

    Oh Marty, you really are quite the wit – the title of the thread. I was hoping for a yes or no, though. Do you think gaming social networking sites ruins lives? You begin to raise some interesting

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Imogen: yes, I think misuse of social media by marketers can hurt or even ruin the experience for the founding members.

  • Derek

    Marty – this is an interesting discussion that some local New England folks are looking to have in the upcoming months (SEO’s and Social Media folks). When I get more details, I’ll let you know.

    Unbelievable the links and discussion from before – there’s professional disagreements and there is insanity.

  • lenloon

    good, study it!

  • Mystic Liquid

    I think it all comes down to the filter systems and accessibilities of these communities.