Abandon Social Media While You Still Can

    February 6, 2007

Much has been made of the impact social media could have on the SEO industry, potentially providing an entirely new avenue in which to promote a business as well as opening up an additional method for generating inbound links to improve search rankings.

In late 2006, the conference series was buzzing about the next viral platform that the SEO industry would be able to infiltrate, generating buzz for their clients and luring an entirely new influx of site traffic along the way.

Yes, both Las Vegas PubCon and SES Chicago were rife with sessions and keynotes revolving around the concept of social media.

And we all bought it.

Bloggers and analysts throughout the SEO world began to herald Digg as the promised land, spending countless hours researching ways to penetrate the user community, appeal to the top Diggers, and optimize sites to be more Digg friendly.

The one thing that nobody counted on, however, is that Diggers weren’t actually interesting in being a part of this grand experiment in social media.

After catching on to the fact that the SEO industry had begun to infiltrate the group, top Diggers started to band together in efforts to eliminate the industry’s presence within the community.

Anything submitted articles even remotely related to SEO were buried, labeled as spam, and eventually had their entire domains banned all because the top Diggers decided that they didn’t want to join the search party. Lee Odden was one of the first, and perhaps most well-noted search marketing analysts to be unceremoniously booted from Digg in this fashion.

What about those who haven’t been banned from Digg? Some of them, it turns out, are beginning to wish they had.

As more data begins to become available, the statistics show that Digg traffic isn’t exactly the marketing boon that most analysts had predicted. Instead, traffic coming from Digg is likened to being attacked by wild dogs or having your online home digitally vandalized by a crew of rowdy miscreants.

And now, it looks as if there’s infighting amongst the vandals.

Last week, Kevin Rose announced that Digg would do away with its “Top Users” feature in an effort to thwart outside attempts to game the system by targeting the top Diggers. The backlash from the announcement continues to mount as the rate at which stories are being submitted is decreasing exponentially.

Perhaps I’m being obtuse, but is this the kind of return the SEO industry hoped to receive from social media?

It’s time for search marketers to admit that perhaps putting so much value in Digg might have been a premature gesture. It’s been made abundantly clear that Digg doesn’t want to be involved with the SEO industry, that traffic from Digg actually does more harm than good, and finally that the community itself is a house of cards that could come crashing down at any moment.

For marketers, it’s time to cut your losses, move on, and leave communities like Digg to their own demise.

In fact, why did anyone think it was a good idea to put stock in the mob mentality of sites like Digg in the first place? I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again, social media is a virus, which is (albeit semantically) totally different from being viral.

In his day, Alexander Hamilton made the assertion that “the masses are asses” and if left to their own devices, wouldn’t be capable of accomplishing very much. When looking at communities like Digg, that sentiment seems to ring truer than ever.

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Joe is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest ebusiness news.