How to be a Master in the dark art of Social Marketing

An SEO pal and client of mine keeps getting banned from social sites as he tries to sell his wares. Dude, I tell him, “you have to get involved”. They are not called social sites without reason.

When a search engine optimiser gets success from doing anything that works (there is no such thing as ethics in seo, but that’s for another post) it’s hard for them to act in a completely different mindset when working on sites like Digg, Stumbleupon, Reddit, Delicious.

The first thing any self respecting seo does is start multiple accounts, this soon gets picked up and stamped on. Accounts and sites will eventually get banned if you abuse the system, even when you don’t submit the stories yourself your site can get banned. Collateral damage I think they call it.

Energy spent trying to game the system is like renting, whilst utilising the sites in pretty much the way they were intended is like owning. It’s about compound interest, you build your white hat social account daily. Your black hat social account will soon get banned, obliterating all your past energies that have gone into the site.

Another mistake is not to practice the Hindu philosophy of Karma or the Christian philosophy of love thy neigbour. I am sure there is a Jewish and Muslim version, but I’m no religious scholar. It’s a simple law that states, give and you will get. But you can’t just be seen to be giving to get.

You actually have to give, without worrying about getting.

A master of this philosophy is Tamar of New York social media marketing fame. In a recent post she gives an excellent guide on how to get success when using social media sites to build traffic.

Here is Tamar at Sphinn, note she has only submitted one of her own stories in 8 submissions. All stories are of high quality and are interesting to the community. Is she gaming the system? Is she using the power of good to tempt us into the darkness. I doubt it, it’s simply an example of meeting someone at a party who talks up all her friends, then drops something relevant into the conversation about herself.

And that is what social marketing is. One big party.

You don’t want to hang with the guy who is constantly raving about themselves, or who brings a bottle of Vodka topped up with tap water. The popular people are the ones with the great stories, who are not un-generous with their praise.

Being a search engine optimiser can be a solitary pursuit, you can succeed with little interaction between warm bodies. But success in social marketing means making friends, using the same social skills which would work at parties.

It took me a while to adapt my mindset from seo gunslinger, to Linkbait cowboy. Now I’m all about being social, and it seems to work. Of course, I leave a trail of banned accounts and sites in my wake, but that was how I learned. I guess I am trying to give a lesson here. Rather than traveling the difficult path I took, you can learn the easy way from people like Tamar.

Added 14/08/07 Chris Winfield just posted a great article on the same subject at Searchengineland it’s a great read.

After some success in the social optimising arena I have decided to publish an e-book detailing my techniques, giving away the process in a step by step guide, which will enable you to build an excellent source of traffic for you and your clients. I’m only going to sell 500 as I don’t want to flood the market with some of my techniques.

Sign up with my email newsletter and I will announce when it is available.

19 thoughts on “How to be a Master in the dark art of Social Marketing”

  1. I think you missed being human from your post, be it not using automated systems but at least as far as social media goes fully embracing the community. One simple method is to actually fill in your profile and upload an avatar. Indeed some systems will penalise you if you do not have an avatar such as Stumbleupon which will not show users without an Avatar who thumbed up a page.

    Social media is interesting as it requires a level of trust to fully participate in, this trust is literally virtual but the perception must be there.

  2. This would be really a valuable post. Over the past few months I have connected with many people from my past and I owe most of that to social sites I?ve participated in on the ?net. Building good relationship and network with the social sites is not easy but it it will give you a starting point to brand yourself and at the same time branding your business. You started with yourself and will end in boosting your traffic.

    Technology can be a blessing and a curse. In terms of networking and social marketing, it is absolutely a blessing.

  3. In other words, go with the flow rather than trying to create a lot of turbulence. It works in trying to get maximum flow through a tube and it will generate maximum buzz-worthiness for your social media inputs.

  4. Tim I kinda took it as read that you are human. 😉 I havn’t come across an automated bot which writes grate content, splaps on a killer headline and then votes over multiple accounts based on different IP’s yet, but when I do I will let you know.
    But absolutely get an avatar, I need to change mine as I think my ugly mugg is scaring off people.

    Rafael, I agree, social networking is a great, personal branding opportunity. It’s not completely transparent, but it’s increased the ability to trust people. “By their deeds you will know them”.

    Barry, I think that’s a great metaphor. The power of social media is like a great river, you can direct it, but you can’t stop it, even a dam will overflow. Mess with it and you could drown. Hmmm, I feel a Zen thing coming on.

    Michael, hmmmm. I’m not sure it’s the whole story, if all your mates vote for you but everyone else thinks you’re a tosspot you wont get very far. I think the posse has to create itself around you rather than you riding into town and raising a posse to go after Big Bob after hit the stagecoach for the fifth time.

  5. Blah…

    This reminds me of dribble you’d hear at some conference with a bunch geeks comparing notes about what Danny Sullivan had for breakfast.

    Social networking is nothing but a stepping stone to something cooler. Yea, you industry nomads all know each other and thus play together online, so you think that’s the whole world – but it’s not.

    Truth is MOST people, inside and outside the industry, could care less about DIGG, Redit, Stumbleupon, etc. – real people don’t want to spend their social time online.

    Some of you are married – wake up man – get off the keys and go grab your wife’s a_ _! …that bored SEM Pro isn’t nearly as fantastic as she is …and if they are, you need to re-evaluate.

    You same ol’ guys and gals never cease to amaze me. You can write. Some of you have even obtained modest success in search. BUT, most of you are losing big in life.

    If the only travel you’re doing is to conferences, you are losing.

    If you know more people online than offline, you are losing.

    If you can run 3 miles, ride a bike 10 or do 5 pull-ups, you are losing.

    If your idea of nutrition is a Diet Coke, you are losing.

    If you are overweight, you are losing?

    If you are obese – well, you already lost.

    Last conferences I went to – there were a whole lotta losers.

    Why should I listen to self-proclaimed masters of social networking when the people spewing the advice are hardly worth worshipping?

    Flame away – but take the time to evaluate yourself befo’ you do.

  6. Im glad to see this very important element of social media , Karma, be illustrated in such a concise way. It is quite easy to fall into the conditioned patterns of instant ranking gratification and forget that there are real people behind some of the profiles.Thanks for bringing them to life and me back to the light! ;]

  7. Christian, lol. Thanks for giving me a laugh this early in the morning.

    Never been to a conference, have no idea what Danny Sullivan has for breakfast, yes I am unfit I find the thought of physical excercise boring and think anyone who runs more than one mile when not being chased by a Bull slightly deranged. I’m more of a diet pepsi or Dr Pepper guy.

    Not sure what not being fit has to do with being online, I know a lot of unfit people who are not online and a lot of fitness freaks who are.

    Your incorrect in thinking that people outside of search marketing are not interested in these social sites. Most are made up of people who have absolutely no idea about SEO and in fact hate us.

    Have you considered being a marriage counsellor?

    I only know other people in the industry, because I work in the industry. I have common goals with most of the people and so interact. I am not in the business to make friends, I’m in it to make money, but I have made friends and that’s cool. Some of them are big hitters, some just starting out. But people are people and I take them for what they are.

    I agreee, social networking is a stepping stone to another goal. But then so is a lot of things. How you behave and act when you are involved in social networking is up to you and I believe that if you act like an idiot it will bite you on the ass later.

    Christian, I respect you being upfront with your views, but I feel they are a little under developed and not really thought out.

    Flaming is something teenagers do. I’m afraid coherent debate is what you will find here.

    I think calling people losers is a judgement call. You are coming to a conclusion when you do not even know the individuals goals. I wouldn’t say that anyone involved in the industry is a loser if they are still giving it a go. They may not yet have had wild success, but that doesn’t mean they are a loser.

    Look, this business attracts all kinds of people, even an ex bohmien-idle-poet like myself. We all have different goals and it’s obvious that if you pay your dues, study the basics, work hard, you will get success. It’s not difficult, but it is if you don’t understand it.

    Hey, all this before breakfast. Which is Shreddies with full fat milk and a decaf. If Danny wants to share what he starts the day out with I am sure we will all gather around with baited breath, hahah.

  8. Manny, glad to know I have inspired.

    It’s always interesting to apply other philosophies to our industry and see what comes out.

  9. It’s sad how most of the social media sites are simply places where everyone is scrambling for notoriety and traffic. I get a horrible feeling in most of those places. I’m hoping Sphinn will be different.

  10. Patricia, I actually see it from another view. I love it that people are scrambling for noteriety and traffic, I get a buzz from it and feel that I get to read peoples stuff where before some crusty old editor would have thrown it in the bin.

    But we never get to see what lands on the editors desk, behind those glossy magazines and newspapers there are thousands of writers scrambling for notoriety and readers, but they have to get past the gatekeeper which is the editor.

    On something like Digg, the curtain is pulled back and we get to see the desperate mob who are sweating to get their words noticed. It may not be pretty and it may be highlighting something ancient within the human psyche. That we are hunters who compete for the kill, those that succeed live and those that fail die.

    What is unfolding is a visual representation of what our ancestors were up to thousands of years ago when tracking wild beasts to feed the family. Ack, maybe I should save this for my anthropology Phd.

    I just love the idea of pulling back the curtain and seeing humanity in the raw.

    I think Sphinn will turn out to be even more cut throat, but more polite. 🙂 After all, isn’t it a place where the best hunters from each tribe go to compete?

  11. I am guilty of submitting a few of my own, although I am actually surprised the Calacanis one didn’t get Sphunn more.

    I am experimenting for a week or so on whether showing only excerpts on my front page with no buttons will have a negative effect for social media. It has certainly made page loading a lot faster.

  12. I agree with Lee, Its quality and valuable content. Submitting a story that brings value to these social sites actually can do quite well all on its own.

  13. “raving about themselves”
    Well if you look at Digg, it’s basically just that. I mean the majority of stories on the frontpage come from either Mashable, Arstechnica, Engadget, TechCrunch, TorrentFreak, Kotaku, Lifehacker/Autoblog.

    Some of those sites use their staff to help seed and digg their sites, and others are mostly self-promotion (posting their own sites to hedge the results). The top digg users regularly self-promote, and it’s no secret that they are receiving handouts from some questionable sources in order to submit items that will inevitably get frontpaged without any scrutiny.

    I’m not complaining, but let’s not pretend that there isn’t some payola going amongst the upper echelon of Digg.

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