SM, Spam, And The Future Of Online Marketing

Lately, SEO companies have been putting a lot of focus on social media in the hopes that this’ll make sure your company can be found online more effectively than just by focusing on search engines.  This is perfectly understandable, because Facebook is now being used more than Google is by people who go online.

The problem is that new methods are still subject to old ideas, and the past few months have heard more and more clamor about the growth of spam within social media.  Facebook especially has been the target of a lot of frustration over this, again because they’ve got the most people using their site.  Even people who understand that this is a great new way for companies to put their best foot forward are upset that their online comings and goings are being (or are going to be) flooded with more of the same old ads in a new packaging.

The difference between social media and search engines, at least from an SEO point of view, is that search engines are more the equivalent of pursuing new clientele and social media is (or at least should be) about maintaining a relationship with repeat customers.  Someone who goes onto Google or Bing and types in a keyword is actively looking for that thing.  Someone who just signed onto Facebook or Twitter is more interested in seeing what friends and family are up to and doesn’t want to have a notice about something they might be interested in shoved into their screen.

If, however, someone actually follows what a company’s doing, they’ll want to know as soon as something new and exciting comes up for that particular company.  It’s just a matter of letting each individual decide whether or not they want to follow you or not.  If you’ll trust them in that regard, you’ll stand a better chance of being noticed by their friends who may also be interested in what you have to offer.  That’s one of the principles on which Facebook’s Top News feed works – a handy tool that’s going to block pretty much all the spam you could send at it.

Of course, there are going to be companies looking for ways around this every bit as much as there’ve been Black Hat SEO firms trying to weasel their clients into #1 placement by any means at all on the search engines.  However, with everyone who uses Facebook now clamoring against further spamming being allowed on the sites, Black Hat just might have a harder time dealing with social media – there’s not a lot you can do besides hack the website when each individual is effectively blocking you from their pages.

With as many people using Facebook as there are, it’s not likely that social media is going to go away any time soon – even if Facebook itself eventually goes the way of a lot of popular web services and eventually gets abandoned or outright hated.  Most companies involved in online marketing know by now that they need solid social media campaigns in order to thrive.  However, they also need to make sure they’re not too heavy-handed when getting it, or they’re going to have the opposite effect from what they want.

The best idea is to get advertising on the same level as word of mouth recommendations, which can only be done when you let people speak for themselves.  The next six months will probably decide whether social media stays the territory of people who just want to keep up with each other easily or whether it’s abandoned by most of these because there’s too much corporate disruption of what they want to do.

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