Friday, February 15, 2013

White Hat / Black Hat Better Know The Difference

I might know every wrong way to make a website go up on the search engines. You know the ones that get your site booted out of Google and then you need to go on bended knee and beg them to take your web site back and list it.  You might think oh that’s bad. But let me tell you it’s very very good.

When it comes to social media marketing, there is a long list of best practices and worst practices that you the marketing manager or business owner needs to be aware of.

Sometimes this line of good and bad get all messy, and even though you might be innocently just trying to improve your hits and followers or metrics, BAM! The web marshal goes and puts your site in web jail. Do not pass go, do not collect 200 new followers! Yes you could be crossing the line and being accused of using “black hat tactics”.

Black hat tactics go against both the written and unwritten rules of social media. Yes we are at war, but these kinds of tactics bait the system in order to achieve better results. Now some black hat tactics are clearly underhanded and I mean sneaky bad, and easy to identify, others are not so bad and are leveraged by thousands of marketers and companies on a daily basis, sometimes on purpose and many times totally unintentionally. Below I have given you 5 black hat strategies, along with ways to clean up your act.

Black Hat 1: Buying your Audience
This is such an obvious black hat practice, and it really makes no sense to do. While there are many services that make it simple for someone to purchase fans or followers, this tactic has little-to-no value. The popularity is nice and we all wanted to be Homecoming King or Queen in High School, but you shouldn’t have to pay for it. Not only can you totally damage your company’s reputation with your real 3F’s friends, family and followers, but chances are that these mysterious new audience fans don’t care much about what your company has to say. Then again, purchased fans and followers could hide spammers and hackers, which have the potential to really cause a whole lot of problems for you.

White Hat 1: Growing your Audience
The best way to grow your audience is with engaging content. This includes great posts, insightful content, images, videos, promotions, polls and any other type of interactive ideas and update that grabs you attention. Once you start posting content on a regular basis and promote it on your SM page even more people can see, find and comment on it. This should be done on both Facebook and Twitter. As you do this you (nicely) get the word about your company’s social profiles, which helps increase real fan and follower.

Black Hat 2: Running Facebook Promotions Directly on a Page
This is an example of where the lines between black hat and white hat get blurry. Although many companies run promotions on Facebook on a regular basis, only companies who are running these promotions within Apps on are actually complying with the Facebook Pages Terms.

White Hat 2: Running Legit Promotions
The Facebook Pages Terms make it totally clear that promotions must be administered within Apps, either on a Canvas Page or a Page App. However, social marketing managers should also note some of the network’s other promotion rules, like acknowledging that promotions are not endorsed or sponsored by Facebook, disclosing who is collecting participants’ information, as well as not using Facebook functions (such as likes, comments or check-ins) as valid actions for entries into a contest or promotion.

Black Hat 3: Spamming for Traffic
Another obvious black hat tactic is spamming for traffic. Most of us have seen the social spammers, who tend to comment on popular posts and tweets with a random message in addition to some strange link. While most of you reading this article know better than to click on these suspect links, others don’t, which is why this shady tactic continues.

White Hat 3: Posting for Traffic
The best way to fight against spammers is to report them, but this doesn’t solve the problem of how you can obtain more web traffic via the social media. Aside from posting good engaging content, another way companies can boost their visibility (and therefore web site traffic) is by participating in conversations on topics, which is most easily done on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Black Hat 4: Corrupt Cover Photos
Facebook cover photos are meant to be a representation of your company, but some companies leverage this area to promote sales. The Facebook Page Terms, however, clearly labels these tactics as prohibited. In fact, covers images cannot be made up of more than 20 percent text, include price or purchase information, contain website, email or mailing addresses, have references to Facebook actions or other call-to-actions.

White Hat 5: Innovative Cover Photos
If you are determined to use your cover photo to promote a new service or product, try to use some imagination in order to not breach the Facebook Pages Terms. While a cover photo car get to the point or a new product or service you need it to also comply with cover photo guidelines by not including too much text, a call-to-action or pricing information.

Black Hat 5: Sneaky Automation
Using automated services for social media campaigns is another place where the lines between black and white hats get blurry. While these services can make life much easier for you, they can also be major annoyances when done the wrong way. An example of a bad use of automation is when company’s send out generic messages to new followers and fans thanking them for becoming a follower. While you might not think this is “bad”, some companies take the thank you message a step further by asking their new fans to take an immediate action in engaging with them by adding a link to their website, a product or additional social profile within the message. While this might not bother some people, it can turn others away.

White Hat 5: Automation to Help Save Time
Automation tools should be used to help you make the posting process done in less time. A service like IFTTT can make some social media management tasks easier, you should remember that interactions with fans and followers should come off as authentic, and not from a robot. Use it but be careful. It is social and sooner or later you need to interact.

Larson Notes & Satire:  So are you I hot water? Are you a Black Hat, White Hat, Gray Hat or a Hat Of Many Colors, or do you just not know?

Take it from a guy who knows all the Black Hat ways to do web promotion. The dirty little truth is these 5 Hats are just the tip of the iceberg as to what you should be working through. And, what you don’t know can hurt you.

So you might want to think about your next step. We put it all together with a powerful knowledge and experience base.

If you want your business to be more, call us for an appointment.

Howard Larson
Larson & Associates
Target Marketing & Telesales Professionals for new account acquisition
Making good businesses great and great businesses even better

P.S. We make telesales for small business affordable by offering programs down to only 15 hours a week. Maybe you could add telesales into your marketing mix call today and find out.

1 comment:

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