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Marketing

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.