The Danger of Overusing Social Media Guerrilla Tactics

Jun 20, 2008   //   by Stephan Spencer   //   Search Engines, Social Networking  //  2 Comments

I’d like to add some additional context to my last post on Social Media Power User “Hacks”. In that post I provided some power user tips for social media marketing and optimization. These power user tips are meant to augment or supplement the necessary prerequisites of creating great content, being a valuable member of the social site/community, and being authentic your interactions (rather than deceitful or dishonest). Guerrilla tactics aren’t a replacement for adding real value.

There are some ethical must-haves (underpinnings) of social media interaction such as engaging in meaningful conversation, instilling trust, being authentic, etc. Entering the social space without an internal moral compass is a recipe for disaster. Although such ethical must-haves wasn’t part of my preso (you’re rarely allocated more than 10 minutes to speak on an SES or SMX panel), don’t think it’s not important. It’s THE most important thing.

Put another way, social media marketing isn’t just a bunch of tricks and shortcuts, it’s mostly about being adding value in an honest way, with the tricks and shortcuts added on to give you that little edge over your competition.

And when applying those aforementioned guerrilla tactics to gain the edge, you must exercise restraint and use good judgment. Don’t just go hog wild and use every “trick in the book” and do it to excess.

Now consider this example of moderation versus excess… Sending a good friend a site with the StumbleUpon toolbar is totally acceptable. But compare that with sending an army of “friends” that you don’t know a truckload of URLs to sift through. The latter is spammy, unethical, and reckless; you’d be foolish to engage in such behavior. You’d torch your account, burn relationships and ruin your reputation.

In line with that thought, you certainly don’t need to employ the whole kit and caboodle of guerrilla tactics. For example, that tip for friending bands in MySpace may be totally unnecessary. Hopefully you can get to a critical mass of friends on MySpace without adding low-value friends (low value as in not likely to have meaningful interactions with you and not in your target market) such as all the bands and musicians that you like. But if you are at only a handful of friends and can’t seem to get over the hump, it’s nice to know that there’s something you can do besides just sit and wait for people to friend you; you can proactively friend bands that you like. Granted an artist like Weird Al Yankovic isn’t going to be terribly interactive with you, so at some point in the future you’re likely to remove that friend from your ranks. Incidentally, that particular tip of friending bands came from a jewelry retailer I interviewed for the Marketing on MySpace article I wrote for MarketingProfs last year. Here’s the quote:

…when starting off, you need to get Friends. It’s kind of a bragging right on MySpace. If you have too few friends, it’ll be tough to get the good ones—the ones who will end up buying from you. So, before you go after those, get a few hundred “bad” friends—bands are the easiest. They’ll give you a respectable number on your Friends list, and will leave comments on your page—giving a little realism boost to your profile—making the addition of friends of the “good” type that much easier.

Finally, your focus in your social media marketing shouldn’t be solely on gaining links. The links are mainly a byproduct of being a good social citizen. Of course they’re still an essential byproduct nonetheless if you are an SEO. :) But it shouldn’t be your main driver for participating in social media. Taking such a self-centered and short-sighted view will backfire. People will see through it. Operate by the principle of “pay it forward”. Karma, in other words.

Live long and prosper.

2 Comments

  • Curious, you mentioned a tool to spider the google directory during your SMX Advanced “Give it Up” presentation. Care to share where such a tool may be found?

    SE

  • We’re releasing it into the SEOmoz Pro tools area. Should be up sometime in October or November, whenever the programmers at SEOmoz can get around to integrating it into their site (which is non-trivial because the tool is coded to work on a user’s local workstation).

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