Posted July 4, 2007 3:59 pm by with 10 comments

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There has been plenty of chatter in the last couple of days about ways that people could be negatively affecting your search engine marketing strategy. People are right to be worried, you only have to look at your search referrals to see how many people are typing in your brand name into the search engines. If there’s some mud slinging going on in your SERPs; plenty of people could end up reading it.

The Google results aren’t the only battle ground for disgruntled customers or unethical competitors. Everyman and his dog are getting involved in social media, and it’s here where the next round of fights will take place. So it’s worth thinking about where and how your rivals could be doing damage to your business.

Bad Product Reviews – Sites like Amazon have done a great job integrating user generated reviews into their sites and even more companies are likely to follow suit soon. Keep your eyes open for over the top negative reviews, chances are they will have used a fake name or email address, but it’s worth taking the time to respond; especially if the criticism is unfounded.

Get you banned from Digg – it doesn’t take much in the way of spam to get a website banned from the popular social media sites. There’s a chance they might continually submit your site in the hope you’ll get banned and never be able to harness their traffic. If you have fallen pray to this tactic there’s a chance you might be able to ask for re-inclusion, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.

Post Negative Videos – its usually disgruntled customers who post negative video like this clip of a Kryptonite bike lock being picked with a Biro, but if the production value is too high, do a bit of background research. Has the user uploaded any other clips to the site? How many videos have they viewed? Is the video promoting a website? There’ll often be some signs if it’s the work of a rival.

Pose as an Employee – one of the best social media marketing tactics a company can participate in getting involved in forums. It can work wonders for customer service and can make even the largest company seem more approachable. But similar tactics can easily be used against your company. They might just set up a user with your company name or pretend to be a specific employee and act like an idiot. If you’re already involved in the forums you’ll find out quickly but you could very easily be oblivious to the PR disaster taking place.

Name Squat – if you set up a company profile on Myspace or other social media sites there’s a likelihood that page will rank well for branded terms. You don’t want other companies in control of these pages. Make sure you register the company name on every site. If you aren’t planning on using the service to market yourself just leave a blank profile with a link to your main site, it’s much better than someone getting up to dirty tricks.

The chances are if you’re already involved in to social media sphere around your business you’ll avoid just these kinds of problems, however those less savvy are prone to the unprofessional attacks. Be aware of the risks and your business will be much safer.

  • Excellent post. It seems that with each new wave of technology there are new issues and threats to contend with.

  • I have to disagree with you on the Digg one – I really don’t think Digg is paying as much attention to user submissions as user filtering. I wrote an email to Digg almost two months ago about users submitting my work as their own (and getting Dugg!) and not only has the main culprit never been banned… no one at Digg ever responded.

  • Tinu, the point of Digg is that you are able to submit other site’s content. You’re not claiming it as your own by submitting it. If you don’t want your content submitted, email them and ask them not to allow any content from your site to be submitted. If you want to control how it’s submitted, do the submitting yourself or in cooperation with a friend and be quick about it.

    As for using social media for evil, it’s definitely possible and not all that hard if you put your mind to it.

  • Yeah I don’t imagine it’s uncommon for popular sites to have their content submited with bad headlines and descriptions in an attempt to stop it going front page

  • No, I don’t mean that they submit my sites. I mean they Take My Content, put it on THEIR sites, and call it their own. Then they get dugg for my work, without any credit to me.

  • I’m saying that my content isn’t being credited to me. I’d love to get Dugg for content on my own site if my servers could handle it. I know what Digg is for, I’m not as look as I stupid, lol….

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  • It’s sad that people would stoop to such low tactics – I know about the “ban in Digg”.
    I signed up an posted 1 “posting” went back 3 days later and was banned for to many submissions – now how did that happen?
    Competitors can be ugly………..

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