Marketing and social media have conjoined more recently than ever. Everyone is trying to make a quick and easy buck, and combining that with social media is a big attention-grabber for most people.
Two big types of digital marketing are black hat and white hat. Black hat SEO refers to aggressive techniques and strategies to buy and gain influence that is considered “cheating” by search engine algorithms (they are inorganic links, and usually spammy in nature).
White hat refers to strategies that typically take more time, but are considered “fair play” by search engine algorithms. They are not spammy, and actually provide useful content to the reader. I’ll be discussing various examples of these methods that I experience as a social media user, as well as my thoughts on social media, specifically Instagram, as a means to sell products and influence people.
Black Hat Tactics Are On the Rise, Despite Cutbacks By Instagram and Other Social Media
There are multiple tactics used and employed by users on social media. I have experienced a number of them, and I’ll share them along with my thoughts. Black hat SEO tactics exist on social media and it’s very common, even though Instagram has been cutting down on it. Black hat social media refers to using sneaky tactics that are outside of the website’s guidelines to further your influence or to gain something. Buying followers is a cheap way to gain status on social media. You can pay companies or buy apps that build your follower base with fake people, or bots as they’re called. This acts exponentially because users will be much more likely to follow an account with lots of followers rather than one without any. This is regardless of whether the followers are bots or not, because the user can’t tell.
Another tactic that I have experienced is when accounts use a program that automatically follows and unfollows accounts. This happens a lot in the guitar community on Instagram. I get followed by lots of random guitar player accounts, immediately go check the list of people they follow, and I won’t be on there. I’m one of the smarter users who knows when they see something sketchy like this, but more often than not a user will follow that person back without any thought or hesitancy.
There Are Still Legit Methods Being Used!
There are definitely reasonable tactics on social media to gain influence, and a common one is for accounts to create a sort of “pod” or group agreement where all accounts agree to like and comment on each other’s posts. I see this in the meme community. When one account comments on one that I follow, I am able to see their comment because they both follow each other. They’ll also repost another meme’s post and give them a shout out. These tactics make it much more likely for me to follow another account or like another post that I wouldn’t have normally liked. This tactic also sort of provides a homey, communal vibe that I enjoy being a part of. The other obvious white hat tactic is to make great content and follow the right people. Users flock to things that are good. However, pods can be considered a grey area because they are technically not “organic” or “natural”, when taken into the consideration that the account managers will probably “like” all the pod members’ posts even if the post itself may be spammy or not quality content.
The Weight of Influencer Marketing on Social Media
Influencer marketing and digital marketing are a huge part of Instagram and all social media platforms. Famous people and accounts with a large number of followers are much more likely to be successful influencers than other accounts. The most obvious reason is that they have way more followers, which means more chances to influence a potential buyer or customer of the product that they’re selling.
Another reason is that people love famous people. We look up to those who have hundreds of thousands of followers and those who are famous. They have influence, and that is highly valuable social currency. We are much more likely to purchase an item seen in an advertisement if someone we know, admire, and love is sponsoring it. This is why advertising companies, for decades, have been paying sports stars, celebrities, etc. to go on TV or magazines and advertise their product.
I follow multiple meme and funny video accounts on Instagram, one being an account called HoodClips. This is a good example of how a random popular page on social media can highly influence a market share. They have 9.2 million followers, and about once every nine posts they’ll tag a brand called Fashion Nova and post a picture of attractive girls wearing their clothes. You can bet that lots of followers buy clothing from this site solely because they think it’s the “cool” thing to do. Examples of this sort of marketing are endless and can be seen all around.
In all, social media is a unique and cool way to market things and influence people. Be sure to watch out for sketchy techniques such as buying followers, automatically following and unfollowing people, and report them if you feel cheated. Pay attention to white hat tactics, and learn to be a smarter social media user.