The Dark Side of Social Media Optimization

Rand came out with a kick ass post on Social Media Optimization for those of you who lean a little more towards the dark side, here are some things to think about.

One of the most common uses for this type of behavior is for reputation management and parasite SEO. One thing to be aware of is you can very often get a double listing to appear. If you’re not careful or have done some advanced planning it’s pretty easy for a competitor to do some “virtual drafting” and appear directly behind or underneath you. Another point to notice it takes a lot more work for you to get that first listing than it does for the second guy to grab onto your coat tails.

Maybe you’ve gone through MySpace and built an excellent list of actual relevant non-sock puppet friends. Well what are you doing to prevent your friends list from being scraped? Almost all of the bot programs for myspace come equipped with a friend scraping feature. You do all the work they get almost as much value with much less effort.

Got yourself or your company a great profile in wikipedia? Are you fully prepared for a criticism section? If someone can create a less than favorable “body of work” externally, and if they are articulate and careful enough they can insert some nuetral point of view criticisms citing that critical mass of negative work. The goal here isn’t to make them switch to another company, just to put enough doubt into their minds that they may not be making the right decision and not purchase from you. It’s especially helpful if the profile making those criticism’s has a history of doing good things, like deleting spam and removing vandalism (of course lots of wikipedians won’t ever consider you created that spam and vandalism with another disposable sock puppet account to make yourself look good).

Trying to get more out of Yahoo Answers, again running sock puppet accounts to ask questions you have the perfect answer for is so easy everyone thinks of it. Using sock puppets to “rig” the voting and get your answers voted the best is slightly more sophisticated. How about using RSS to “stalk” some keywords or phrases, giving you laser targeting on your question, answering and voting methods.

Looking to goose up those bloglines subscription numbers, why not set up some catch-all email addresses on some domains you’ve killed, create bloglines accounts, subscribe at will, lather rinse repeat.

Somewhere on Digg, newsvine, and almost every other user generated content site out there is some policy about “not submitting your own stories, websites or blog postings”. Well I see those kind of things kind of like handicaps in sports, they make the rest of kids think they can run with the big dogs, and just don’t apply to me. So what if I happen to be mildly schizophrenic, and have lots of imaginary friends who are very net savvy? Are you going to discriminate against the people who are reality challenged?

Web 2.0 opens up a whole new game for those creative enough to use to use it. For heavens sake delete your cookies and use proxy servers

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