Like most social media peeps, I sit around all day and watch Twitter as a part of my job. I watch several keyword/phrase streams like everyone else, to keep my thumb on the pulse of the business, various industries, market segments and influencers. Lately I’ve been surprised (and a little dissappointed) to see what some of the fairly notable and medium to large companies have been doing, some of which are publicly traded. I’ve covered this and similar observations in a recent rant “Twitter Auto-DM’s: Perpetuating Our Inner Lemming?” which more of a Twitter-specific bitchfest but still lends itself to a bigger issue I’m seeing that is not platform, industry, or era-specific. I don’t think this issue will ever really go away because there will always be a layer of misguided marketers and businesses doing things that are just lame, hoping to capitalize on customers that haven’t been trained to think for themselves as consumers (yet).
In this world there are three types of people:
- Those that know the importance of balancing being both.
In business it’s no different.
What is Leech Marketing?
In the social media/web world, to me leech marketing is basically the effort behind leveraging search algorithms to make quick money from uninformed customers with no concern for the real long-tail value of one’s business or industry. The unfortunate effect of this behavior is that it brings down the social capital value of those businesses that are doing social the right way for the right reasons. So to explain what the hell I’m really talking about here, these are a few (of many) leech methods, sucking the value out of social media by muddying the waters of our intended target audiences.
This definitely can make trying to do business on Twitter (the right way) more time consuming as you watch keyword/phrase streams, trying to follow current market segment-specific conversations as well as unearthing new potential markets. People are hashtagging business-related tweets by top ten Twitter trending topics rather than relevancy to one’s target audience in an effort expose a ‘conversation’ to new randoms, more shotgunning.
Unfortunately (and statistically) your ROI will not only suck, but you are actually hurting other businesses that aren’t even in your space. This will NOT give you a competitive edge and additionally makes you (personal brand) or your company look desperate and clueless. You want to be the company that looks like you are smarter and wiser than everyone else, that you’ve risen above it all, focusing on what’s really important. Here’s what I’m talking about.
Say you want to sell your Canon point-and-shoot camera on Craigslist……
- Good: “Selling my point-and-shoot camera. DM me if interested. LINKTOCRAIGSLISTPOST #photography #pointandshoot #photographer #forsale”
- Bad: “Selling my point-and-shoot camera. DM me if interested. LINKTOCRAIGSLISTPOST #socialmedia #justinbieber #oilspill”
Irrelevant Categorizing/Tagging of Blog Posts is Clutter
Similar to tweet construction, categorizing/tagging blog posts is an art. It’s probably safe to say that since search engines give preference to blogs, I believe that category/tag spam and it’s content irrelevance is responsible for probably a surprising percentage of lost business, wasted bandwidth, wasted time, and overall confusion for customers.
I understand that one way to help proliferate or unearth new customers and markets is to tag posts with keywords/phrases with ‘somewhat relevant’ tags. I think that’s all smart and good, but tagging anything “Justin Bieber” alongside anything other than what’s relevant is what I’m against.
Let’s take the same concept, selling a used Canon point-and-shoot camera on Craigslist, except this time, you write a blog post about it with info about the camera and then linking to your Craigslist entry.
- Good Tagging: “For sale, camera, canon, point and shoot, photography, photographer, used camera, craigslist, beginner camera”
- Bad Tagging: “canon, camera, photography, oil spill, bp gas, justin bieber, lost, social media”
Above I’m not saying it’s “bad” because it won’t work, however I am saying that you are creating more clutter for the rest of us and hurting online business flow by doing it. This method of tagging reduces the value of search and other social media tools for the business and personal web experience.
Search rankings don’t mean squat without a real conversion that supports the business objective(s).
“Mannequin” Blog Posts, Keyword-Based Post Aggregators – Automated or Manual
A “mannequin” blog post basically consists of the first paragraph or so of an original post, plus the link to the source so you can link back to it. I’m not opposed to this at all as long as the mannequin’d post is relevant to your business/brand and if it only makes up a fairly miniscule portion of your content. Those that have set up websites that in a scripted fashion crawl every blog post with a certain brand name, product type, specific industry keywords/phrases, then in a scripted fashion duplicate the post, creating a blog post and publishing it, is not only wrong for search/business clutter reasons, it’s also one of the many ways the companies sell their soul if that website or process is a documented part of their business plan. It’s weak and not a good foundation for your brand….my opinion of course.
Blind Following, Friending, Liking, Retweeting
Doing any of the above without researching the person/website first to make sure it’s relevant and has intrinsic value to your business and it’s objectives is just dumb. Plain and simple.
On the web, especially nowadays, people and content are data points, data points whose connection and strength lies solely in their relevance. The less relevant, the less valuable. The less valuable, the bigger the reason you shouldn’t do it, but you already know that. Here’s a few other good articles on this stuff. Some old, some new.