The Death of Paid Followers and Black Hat Social Media Techniques?

Since the beginning of social media, popularity or the amount of followers, likes etc… has been a big indicator of whether your product, brand or service has been doing something right. Five years ago, seeing huge numbers on social media sites provided a form of public validation and trust which was seen as a great indicator of a brand’s success.

From the start, people quickly figured out that creating thousands of fake accounts could provide an instant interest factor for your desired audience. Whilst working in the music industry I came across many producers and studios that would pay for followers, views and basic engagement etc… for bands and songs, daily. Black Hat social media techniques became a standard practice within the entertainment industry and before long this then became commonplace in the business sectors. No matter how terrible a product was/is, it could appear to have a huge following. Social media is now part and parcel of any good SEO strategy as the engagement will ultimately give your Google rankings a lift but times are changing.

 

Google has changed a lot over the last few years in a way that I think democratises the internet to a degree that favours ‘real’ interaction and engagement over spammy link building and paid for interest. Paying for cheap business directories and ten thousand followers on Twitter is no longer going to help you build your brand. This will make many digital marketers jobs’ more difficult in the sense that they now have to start engaging more with their clients’ products and begin creating actual marketing campaigns that drive relevant traffic. In my opinion all this is good and will ultimately reduce bounce rates and increase conversions, if you know what you’re doing. Not only did Google’s updates not affect my clients, it actually helped them secure higher positions than their competitors that are represented by less forward-thinking digital marketers which inevitably led to a drop in their rankings.

Google is now beginning to punish companies that have faked their way through social media. YouTube has already started making big moves against fake virality by removing billions of fake views from certain pop stars. If you pay for a fake social media lift by buying likes on Facebook so you suddenly receive one thousand likes in a week and then twenty the next, the Google social monitoring algorithm will know and your rankings will suffer, ultimately affecting the profitability of your business.

I’ve been saying this for over a year now but still some business owners are too short sighted and don’t think about the longevity of their companies. It’s been tipped that the next Google update is going to be specifically targeting spammy social media and a plethora of Black Hat social techniques so if you’ve paid for fake followers and likes then beware because Google is going to be targeting you, and your company will be at risk of losing a large percentage of your readership. Think about the long-term financial damage that you’ll incur by using cheap short term social media strategies. Expedia lost 25% of their visibility this year due to Black Hat Social Media techniques; just think how much business that cost them or imagine how much it’ll cost you financially to lose 25% of your client visibility.

If you’ve made a mistake then there may still be time to correct it and to hire a company that can begin creating real engagement-based social media strategies. Sage advice – Never go cheap on bin liners and social media strategies, if you do you’ll find yourself steeped in useless rubbish and regret.

The Plug

If you’re interested in implementing a social media strategy that works for your business and is based on a team doing real work then send me a message or contact me via johnny@bigfootdigital.co.uk

Unlike most digital marketing companies, we don’t implement 6 to 12 month contracts with our clients. We simply ask for a 30 day cancellation period. We structure our services in this way because we believe in the quality of what we do. Our work and the client’s ROI should speak for itself and so far it’s enabled us to go from strength to strength.

Johnny Pawlik

Digital Strategy and Business Procurement