You should be familiar with the idea of white hat/black hat. In the early days of black and white western shoot-em-ups, the good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wore black. It was a simple visual letting the viewer know what was happening.
So this simple signal comes in handy to identify good guys vs. bad guys in a lot of areas. Black hat SEO has gotten a lot of attention as the various algorithms go after spammy content. And Search Engine Journal's Albert Costill just took a look at how black hat social media can hurt your business.
These 6 warning signs were mentioned:
- paying people to be active on your social media content with likes, comments, subscribes, or clicks
- hiring click farms - underpaid workers usually in a poor country - to increase likes and followers
- using automated programs to follow and unfollow subscribers
- sharing malicious hyperlinks
- creating false social media profiles to increase activity or get information
- fake reviews, whether positive on your page or negative on a competitor's
Gaming the System Eventually Backfires
I think it's obvious why these warning signs mean trouble. They all are attempts to create fake numbers on your social media. How is this any good? It's like cheating to win at solitaire: The win is meaningless. Inflated numbers of non-followers and non-likes don't actually mean any increase in revenue for your business. Even the idea that it will get you higher on a search page ranking is iffy because the increasingly sophisticated search engines will penalize this kind of behavior.
However, even if it got a higher SERP, it is a poor return on your investment. Imagine how much higher the ROI is when you focus on your customers and provide the stuff they are looking for. Putting on the figurative black hat to falsely inflate social media numbers is actually pretty obvious and could easily lose you the real people who are following you now. It's better to focus on developing leads from social media wearing the white hat of legitimacy.