If I had to choose a hat to wear everyday, I’d choose a purple hat because purple is my favourite colour. But when it comes to social media marketing, I’d rock a white hat everyday. Do you know what I’m talking about? Have you ever heard the terms “black hat marketing” and “white hat marketing”? They’re popular terms, especially when people are referring to SEO tactics.
Black Hat Marketing
Black hat marketing is using shady tactics to manipulate search engine results or alter your online reputation (we all want to be more popular than we actually are). Most likely, these underhanded tactics are frowned upon and are against platform guidelines and can get you booted, banned, suspended from using the platform you’re trying to be shady with.
White Hat Marketing
Uh, the opposite of black hat.
Social Media Tactics To Not Use
While a lot of these sound pretty legit and you might think “Hey, this is a good idea for growing my accounts super quick!”, I urge you to re-consider. Some of these aren’t necessarily “black hat” but they are unethical and, if executed incorrectly, will get your accounts banned. Don’t get your company social media accounts shut down, could you imagine how mad your boss would be?
Don’t #1: Buy Shares / ReTweets for Facebook or Twitter
Have you ever found a company online that “specializes in social media marketing”, but then creeped them on Twitter and realized their posts are getting retweeted (shared) a ba-zillion times by random people? Yeah, they’ve probably bought RTs of their posts. (Pro tip, don’t work with them.)
Right now, you’re probably thinking, hey that’s cool, I can get my post seen x1000 for $2 USD (which is like $80 CDN if you consider the exchange rate right now), but stop! Think about which is better:
Getting banned because you bought shares of a post that are going to be seen by 1,000 people who don’t care
Sharing the post yourself (or buying some advertising within your platform) and ensuring your ideal clients see it
Your messaging is important to those who should care, but what kind of people are they actually reaching if you pay a service to RT them with their fake accounts?
Don’t #2: Buy Fake Followers
This has to be my absolute favorite topic and one that comes up a lot. This is my response when businesses focus too much on followers/likes, and it should the question you ask yourself before you purchase a million followers for your business:
Would you rather have 10,000 followers who don’t engage with you, aren’t in your target audience and are bots?
Would you rather have 200 engaged followers who actually care about what your company has to say and it is quite possible they will work with you in the future?
The correct answer, my friend, should have been easy for you to choose. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always nice to see the follower/like number inflate, but think about what buying followers will actually accomplish besides falsely inflating the popularity of your company social media accounts. Don’t compromise the value of your social reach.
Fake follower checklist:
- Weird username – In this case @Muhamma04598450… LOL What!?
- No profile header image – Majority of fake profiles have no header.
- No profile image – In this case, it’s the default egg Twitter gives you when you sign up. In some cases, it’s a hot girl or a selfie photo of someone (probably stolen from a real person’s Twitter account).
- No profile description – Sometimes there is a profile description that’s usually one sentence long.
- Tweets that don’t make sense – Most of the tweets are weird, are RTs or are like boring quotes that nobody would tweet. This is to make the profile look active so Twitter doesn’t delete them as spammers or fake accounts.
You WILL get fake/spam accounts following you organically. You can delete them or leave them. Depending on what you tweet about or the hashtags you use will attract these spammers. For example, I once tweeted about #iPhones and I received 5 spam followers from that one tweet.
Don’t #3: Program Automated Comments
If you’re on Instagram at all, for personal or business use, you’ve probably received comments that have nothing to do with the photos you’ve posted. You’ve been “botted!” That’s what I like to call it at least.
There are third party Instagram services that will leave comments on photos depending on the targeting you set, such as any photos in the past week with the hashtag “#yeg”, you can have the bot leave a “I love Edmonton!” comment on your behalf. This is fully automated so there’s not a way for you to see which photos are being commented on.
Example of an automated Instagram comment:
The above is from the Top Draw Instagram account. A couple months ago we went for dim sum and when we posted we used #yegfood, #lunch and #dimsum as hashtags. From the comment by berlinburger, you can see it has absolutely nothing to do with dim sum or Chinese food in general.
Explanation: Automated hamburger emoji icon comment on all photos tagged with #lunch. Because they are based in Berlin and don’t have an Edmonton location, we know they’re not targeting “#yegfood”, it wouldn’t make sense for them to target “#dimsum”.
Fight Vanity Metrics
I know it’s easy to obsess over vanity metrics, it crushes your soul when you compare your accounts to your competitors, but don’t get analysis paralysis. You’re probably sick of hearing this, but it’s true, the more you post amazing content, the more people will care about you and your business, and they’ll want to follow you. Think of about social media best practices, tailoring your content to the platform you’re posting on and while it’s fine to automate your posts, don’t forget to actually BE SOCIAL.