SES Chicago: Social Media Optimization

    December 12, 2006

This is a bit of a late post but I want to get it out there before it gets swallowed up by all the other half-finished posts in my WordPress control panel.

I am happy to say that the session on social media optimization with Neil Patel, Andy Hagans, Rand Fishkin, Todd Malicoat and I during SES Chicago last week went pretty well. Todd and I did not do PowerPoint presentations but we did get a few minutes to introduce ourselves and talk a little bit about SMO.

Neil started things off with a very unique and humorous explanation of Wikipedia. Basically, “Don’t spam Wikipedia.”

Rand followed up with an excellent review of the various social media sites ranging from digg to StumbleUpon to reddit. He made excellent points on how these communities are sensitive to promotion and provided general guidelines for interacting with them.

Andy was the last presenter, taking a direct and to the point position that he was not interested in building or contributing to social news or bookmark communities. He is there to use them as tools to make money and that’s it. The audience responded with applause, which you don’t see that often at conferences.

Most social news and bookmark communities loathe explicit marketing efforts. While there is entertainment value in alluding to being a SMO spammer at a conference, there is another set of considerations when actually implementing a sound marketing strategy using social media.

The search spam mentality has at it’s foundation a value in shortcutting the system rather than following the imposed guidelines put forth by the search engines and social media communities. The mindset is one that assumes that as long as you can get away with it, it’s ok. Or in more extreme cases that it’s a disposable marketing channel.

I am certainly no stranger to the act of pushing boundaries to see what pushes back, but if a channel can be productive long term, why slash and burn it? I don’t think slash and burn is what Andy meant with the transparency in his motives, but there are others that hear such things and will take it to heart. I’ve seen many of the resources he’s created or “had created” and they really do offer value. Otherwise, they wouldn’t become the “home runs” that hit the digg home page or delicious popular page.

My only concern is that budding social media marketers that are attracted to the “make money at any cost” perspective will take a “disposable marketing channel” approach to marketing with social media. This will only make it harder for us SMO nerds and “goodie two shoes” marketers that see social news and media as key components within a long term multichannel online strategy.

Maybe I’m taking a bit of a devil’s advocate approach to this but I am curious what others think.


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Lee Odden is President and Founder of
TopRank Online Marketing, specializing in organic SEO, blog
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