23 Jul Black Hat Social Media
Using Black Hat techniques for your social media might sound sexy and a great way to get ahead, but they are essentially underhanded techniques that break Google/search engine rules to make your accounts look better than they really are.
There are a whole bunch of tactics that fall under this umbrella and if your social media manager or agency is using any of these, you might want to consider looking elsewhere for the service as they are slowly poisoning your brand reputation.
Black Hat strategies include things like buying fake subscribers, likes, or comments; sharing dodgy links; creating dummy accounts to increase followers and engagement, or using programs/bots to automatically follow new accounts.
Using any of the above Black Hat techniques is an exercise in pointlessness. You don’t actually benefit at all; the only thing you succeed in doing is kidding yourself into thinking that you’ve achieved something. It takes ZERO skill or dedication to buy 10,000 followers – these fake followers won’t buy your product or services and so they are completely pointless.
People engage with your social media to make a connection and you use social media to build a relationship based upon trust. If you’re trying to fool them, that trust goes out the window along with your reputation.
Let’s look at some of the most common Black Hat techniques and come up with some alternatives.
This is the simplest form of Black Hatting your social media. If you have an Instagram account you’re bound to have been tagged in a dodgy post offering you free followers. Buying followers is easy and readily available and Facebook AND Instagram can see exactly when and how many you have bought!
Don’t do it – you’re buying bots. They have no value to you in terms of being a potential customer, they won’t engage with your posts and if you do buy some more sophisticated ones who post comments, they’ll usually be irrelevant. Your real followers will see this as a low self-esteem move and it will damage your reputation and the credibility of your account.
Try this – stop getting hung up on numbers. It’s not all about likes and follows. In fact, a small number of highly engaged, brand advocates will always outperform fake accounts. Change your mindset and start looking at engagement levels and click-thru rates for your website. Be patient – it takes time to build a community but once you have, you’ll benefit in the long run.
Social media platforms have different formats to the way they display content and often, brands will use different language depending on the platform. It can be tempting to post the same content across all the platforms but can sometimes look odd; for example, having a link in your caption on Instagram just won’t work and you don’t want to be asking people on Facebook to Retweet your post.
Try this – write captions to suit the language you’d use on the specific platform. This will encourage real conversations and help to reinforce your brand tone. If you want to be consistent with your messaging, simply write different sign-offs to insert to each platform’s post.
It pains us to write about some of this stuff, but can you believe that some people will use bots to gain followers, derive backlinks, get ‘likes’, and generate comments. It’s so immensely lazy and doesn’t even work – but we see it happen, and these data centres in Asia make a pretty penny from doing it too.
Just don’t do it. You might gain a few followers but once they realise that you are mainly followed by fake accounts, they’ll leave you and will be lost to you.
Try this – just be real. Engage with people, speak in your brand’s voice and build trust organically – there’s no cheat code.
If you think that posting unrelated or irrelevant links to social media platforms is going to get you clicks, you’re probably right. However, it’s not going to help you or your business to gain clients. People hate spam and they’ll hate you for posting it – don’t even get us started on clickbait and those dreadful ‘prank’ videos that are clearly staged just to keep you hanging on long enough for the creator to monetise the video.
People will associate your brand with spam and that’ll be the end of your relationship.
Try this – post sensible, relevant content; it really isn’t hard to be authentic, and, in a world, full of spammers and bots you’ll actually stand out among the noise!
In short, there’s no cheating the system. The social media companies have people way more intelligent than you or us working on crime-busting algorithms. Social media is about authenticity; be authentic and followers will come.