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Andy Williams

Black Hat Social Media – What Your Business Should Know

23rd Sep 2014 Social Media 7 minutes to read


Black Hat MarketingMost of you will have heard of the terminology “black hat” when it comes to either SEO or Digital Marketing in general. But what about when it comes to Social Media? You may not even know if you’re engaging in such activity – so that’s why we want to make you and your business aware of the dangers.

Black Hat is basically underhand tactics carried out to manipulate your standing either within search engine result pages or to your audience (to give the impression you are more popular or authoritative than you really are). These tactics are always against the guidelines set out by the platform you are trying to manipulate.

Black Hat SEO is big business and can bring overnight (but seriously short term) success. If you are looking for a quick buck in a competitive field, then more often than not this is where you will see tactics deemed Black Hat being carried out.

For any online business looking to build reputation and repeat custom, this isn’t a practice you should participate in. The dangers of Black Hat SEO are well known and can be seriously detrimental to an online business. Emma has a video on such Black Hat tactics used in SEO that you should avoid.

However, Black Hat Social Media isn’t as publically frowned upon.

In fact some of the tactics carried out on Social Media that could be classed as “Black Hat” would actually be classed as the norm to some. You can buy most activities on 3rd party sites for minimal costs.

So has this led to more people just carrying out practices that should otherwise be avoided? Has the ease in which some of these practices can be carried out given the impression that they won’t be as detrimental as more technical SEO Black Hat techniques?

Regardless of the ease and regardless of how “normal” it feels to carry out some of these tactics – you need to be aware of the pitfalls and why you should avoid them.

Buying Followers

Buying followers is a common practice mainly done for Twitter and Facebook accounts.

The main reason most companies or individuals do this is to build initial authority. Most people believe that it is harder to attract genuine followers if the account appears “bare”.

The official Google line (heard first hand from Pierre Far (Google) at a Google Webmaster conference) was that Google didn’t give two hoots if you buy followers.
It doesn’t mean anything to them.

Well that is great then, right?

Get buying people, get buying. Buy hundreds, thousands, millions… why not? More to the point, actually – why?

You see the reason Google don’t care if you buy followers is because the number of followers has no bearing on the authority of your account. The authority of your followers does.

The other reason Google really don’t care is, having brought these followers, you are the one who will have to keep them interested and connected.

Now, no matter what you are told on purchase, the followers you buy will have no interest in what you have to offer at all. Mainly because they are throwaway profiles.

If we go back to the common reason as to why you may buy followers – yes a nice high number of followers may give the impression that you are a brand worth following (after all thousands of others do), BUT, anyone seeing an account that has a high number of followers and a low number of tweets will more than likely call you out.

This can be detrimental to you straight away.

Twitter being Twitter (and online communities being what they are), this can spread like wildfire.

You really don’t want to be known as that company that brought a load of followers. You really don’t.

Build your audience naturally. Have a following of people who genuinely want to know about your brand, services and updates.

Buying Followers

Buying ReTweets

Buying ReTweets can be seen as a great way of getting a certain message out there to people who may otherwise not see it.

In theory this makes great sense. It’s a nice, fast way of spreading your message, so why not?

Well the reality is, if you use one of these 3rd party sites that promise to ReTweet your Tweet to thousands of people – the chances are your Tweet will be seen by no one who cares about what you have to say.

Include a hashtag and you may trend, but not enough to make a difference.

As with all of these, you need to question what you will actually get out of this.

Who has your message actually reached? Are they the people you think will genuinely get in touch with you? The answer is more than likely going to be no.

Have you raised brand awareness?

Maybe, but you have ReTweeted to nobody worthwhile.

This alone should make you question just how beneficial this type of service is.

Is it Black Hat?

Well none of it has been natural or organic has it.

Buying Views

There is nothing worse than uploading a video to YouTube and then finding no one is watching it.

You put hours of hard work into getting your video looking professional, only to find that it gets lost in the depths of YouTube.

The most frustrating thing of course is that you know if you had more views you would rocket up their algorithm and you would end up being seen by everyone.

Easy – why not buy views?

Problem solved, and in no time you will be shooting up the YouTube rankings.

If only.

YouTube doesn’t give two hoots about your view count. What matters more is the engagement of your video – how long did people watch it?

Because there is a world of difference between gaining loads of new views that also stop watching after 5 seconds to actual engagement.

Basically buying views isn’t the answer. It makes no difference to Google, YouTube or your new viewers as to how many views your video has had. It’s all about the engagement.

If you keep someone watching then you are on to a winner.

Create something that will having people sharing your video socially and you are also onto a winner.

Fake Comments

Gaining positive reviews or comments is hard work. Not everyone wants to leave a comment or a review; in fact people are sometimes more inclined to leave a bad review than a good one.

This can lead to some “harmlessly” trying to help the positivity along by leaving some fake comments or reviews.

Don’t.

You may have also received some negative reviews. Again the natural reaction may be to pose as a customer and leave something positive.

Just don’t.

You really don’t want the fall out that can come if you are found out. People like nothing more than to whistle blow. Start creating fake comments and you will be found out.

No matter how good you think your comments are and now natural they may look, someone somewhere will find you out.

Be Organic

Be Organic

Listen, I know most of the arguments as to why you would want to carry out any of the above tactics. I’ve even heard all the case studies that try to back up the fact that all of this helps. The reality is; you need to be organic.

If you truly want longevity online, if you want to grow genuine authority, if you want to be regarded as a leader in your field – you need to be organic.

There are no shortcuts in a successful online campaign that will provide a business with ongoing success and custom.

People are also becoming wiser. People can now start spotting a manipulated account a mile off. Do you really want to risk losing potential customers simply because you didn’t have the patience to grow your following organically?

Worse still do you really want to be that business that everyone called out for buying followers?

  • Build your following
  • Build a real audience
  • Build an audience that will champion your brand
  • Build an audience of repeat customers

Carry out any of the Black Hat practices mentioned in the post above and you have basically wasted you money and outreached to absolutely no one.

For more information on building your brand organically, contact a member of the Koozai team today.

Image Credit

Black Hat Marketing – Title of Book from BigStock

Illustrated silhouettes of two monkeys shaking hands from BigStock

Natural 100% Text from BigStock

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Andy Williams
About the author

Andy Williams

Andy Williams will be giving you useful insights into local search and the overall SEO landscape. Andy has over 10 years experience in the SEO industry including 2 years as the in-house SEO consultant with a leading Web Design company.

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