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February 13, 2008

Black Hat Marketing Strategies For Sale At Entrecard

Darren Rowse, from Problogger, did an informative interview with Entrecard founder, Graham Langdon back in January, and while I appreciate Langdon's ideas to make Entrecard a place where bloggers are offered a myriad of ways to promote, monetize, and advertise their blogs, I can't help but think some of the "advertising" services being offered in the Entrecard Shop are taking on the form of black hat marketing strategies. Here are some examples from the page:

"I will stumble your site for only 50 EC's. 50EC's will buy you a stumble on one page of your website."

"Do you need to increase your comments, raise your RSS count and raise your campaign value all in one shot? Buy two and I'll sign up to your RSS via both email and reader and leave three quality comments."

"I will subscribe to your blog through e-mail for 10 credits. Increase your subscribers now! Just buy item and specify your URL...I will also drop my card!"

"Have your post dugg or stumbled by me. Do you want your blog favored on Technorati?"

"Tell me which one of these you would like and send me the link to the post in question.
You are paying for only one type of action - tell me which one (Technorati/Digg/Stumbleupon) in a mail here after purchase."

Interestingly enough, back when Langdon did his interview with Darren, the advertising page looked like this:

These ads, to me, look more like legitimate advertising opportunities as opposed to fake votes and paid subscriptions. (Am I the only one that wants "real" subscribers, real votes and real comments on my blog?) Kind of reminds me of the "Subvert and Profit" issue that came up last year regarding Gaming Digg and how this is in total violation of their terms and conditions.

I have to agree with what Loren Baker at Search Engine Journal says about social media projects and pieces:

"Smart organic newsworthy content should be shared with our peers among social media and social news channels, and pinging a handful of friends and colleagues to give such material a bit of a headstart is acceptable."

So what, then, will happen to the pay-per-community, when gaming the system becomes quite obvious?  Loren sums it up this way.......

"In time, the pay per ‘action’ campaigns will find themselves in the same dusty and questionable shelves as snake oiled spam, unfortunately casting a negative shadow against the practice, which parallels the early days of questionable SEO; something the industry has yet to shake from its credible reputation."

What do you think? Are selling votes for social media a dishonest way to market a campaign? What do you see the risks as when selling subscriptions and Diggs for traffic? And most importantly, is honesty always the best policy when it comes to social media? Penny for your thoughts.

 

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I think it's easy to get sucked into that instant gratification kind of thinking, especially by new bloggers who might not know better. I don't participate in the Black Hat stuff (at least, I don't think I am) and just try to keep dropping cards and discovering new blogs. It seems like whenever something "wonderful" comes along, there is always someone to corrupt it. I maintain my belief that humans are de-evolving! :)

I find it disappointing but perhaps inevitable that the buying of votes would happen. It just further pollutes the quality of material that is socially shared. I've noticed this at StumbleUpon, there are more throw-away articles being posted that really do not add anything new or interesting.

I agree. It is a real disappointment when a great site like Entrecard starts to get abused by those who try to game the system. It makes it a bummer for the rest of us who are trying to use these sites effectively.

It's crap that this always happens. I would never buy a subscriber or a stumble! This will only pollute the blogosphere...

I just signed up with Entrecard last week. When I see those advertisements and giveaway credits, etc. those are the blogs I actually avoid. I do think Entrecard is a great marketing site and I have found some interesting blogs from it.

Why would you want "fake" subscribers to your RSS? By subscribing they are not interested in your content or want to know more about your blog. My brief experience with Entrecard has been that of disappointment. The only traffic I get are those "drive by" droppers who only hop to my site just to drop a card and then move on. The bounce rate for people coming in off entrecard is huge and is raising my overall bounce rate stats significantly. I will stick with the entrecard system for about another month but if it does not improve my quality traffic or grow my site naturally, the widget is coming out.

I'd have to agree that Internet "log-rolling" is as distasteful as it is in hard-copy publishing. That said, I wonder what Entrecard-ers think of "Site Hoppin'". Now, I use the site, and it's an interesting and easy way to discover new blogs. But I wonder how many are using it JUST to boost credit counts, not even casting a token glance at the sites they visit [I'm not criticising "SH" for the fact that EC'ers use it this way; schemes to "carpet bomb" EntreCards are nothing new. The only difference between "SH" and other ploys is its ease of use, and (I suspect)pervasiveness across EC].

I really don't like this kind of thing. I'm of the belief that the people who're promoting your stuff are either friends or people who're genuinely interested in your stuff.

This is the kind of thing that businesses who don't get social media or social networking would use.

Sure, they'll get some traffic out of this stuff, but the problem is, they're not engaging with their readership.

I know some of people promoting and commenting on my stuff. So I can engage on a very personal, fine-grained level.

Could these guys say the same? I doubt...

It sucks. I just don't see the point in cheating. How are you supposed to know which of your posts are worth reading and improve your blog if you're getting all those false votes?

The trouble is, whatever comes out on the Internet, there's a huge bunch of people who soon work out how to game it to their advantage. And it takes away the fun for everyone.

I agree with all of you. I can't understand the purpose of paying for e-mail or RSS subscribers other than to let advertisers know so they will pay to advertise on your site. Still, it is cheating the system.

Have to agree with you. Seems really strange, don't know why anybody would want to have fake subscribers. How have you found having Entrecard on your blog? Would you recommend it?

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