You've probably heard of "black hat social media techniques" before, but what does it mean?
Simply put, these techniques are illegitimate things brands do to increase engagement, boost followers, or otherwise make their social media look better than it is.
And while these can sometimes work in the short-term, but oftentimes have bad long-term effects. For example, getting banned from social media or gaining largely fake social media followers.
But even worse, you may not even know you're using black hat social media techniques until it's too late. So in this piece, we'll run through eight black hat social media techniques you should never use.
Use this list to guide your social media in the right direction. Any one of these black hat social media tactics could ruin your reputation and social media presence—and trust us, no one wants that.
Let's get started.
1. Buying social media followers
We've said it before, and we're not afraid to say it again: never ever buy followers on any social network.
Why? They're painfully obvious to spot, do nothing to help your engagement, and could get you shut down by the social network you're buying them on.
Plus, and if fake followers don't get you banned, the network will likely just ban the fake accounts you paid for. We saw Twitter ban millions of fake accounts last summer and remove them from follower counts. Ouch.
2. Spamming hashtags and keywords
Keyword stuffing is back with the social media age.
But nowadays, instead of adding unnecessary keywords to a website footer, black hat marketers are adding unnecessary keywords and hashtags to their social media posts.
This causes the social media shares to show up in more social searches in an effort to get more clicks and shares.
But in the end—even if someone sees a hashtag-stuffed post in a search—chances are they won't interact with it. After all, these social media posts look spammy, unprofessional, and generally provide no real value.
3. Creating fake comments
Likewise, buying comments on your posts is also a bad idea. These fake comments are painfully obvious and don't provide any substance to your social account's conversation.
So while you may rack up lots of followers quickly, they will soon realize that your engagements are fake.
This will ruin your reputation, cause you to lose those followers, and may even get you punished by the social network you're buying comments on.
4. Leaving fake reviews on competitor pages
Arguably the most destructive black hat social media techniques is leaving fake bad reviews on competitor pages. While it seems like common sense not to do this, we've seen it happen on Google, Yelp, and even Facebook.
Doing this is unethical for obvious reasons. But even beyond that, review sites actively monitor for these things. Fake reviews are often removed, making this black hat social media technique a waste of time.
Oh, and likewise, buying positive reviews for your own page is also a bad idea. These reviews will be quickly removed—and even worse—your listing could be removed.
5. Misleading links
One of the world's most annoying black hat social media techniques is misleading links.
The tweet or social media share will promise one kind of content, and then link users to a completely unrelated website through a link shortener.
This may drive traffic to these fraudulent links temporarily, but in the end, are often reported to social networks.
This causes the accounts to get shut down and links blacklisted by the social network. Not to mention the people who click on these links are likely to get frustrated and completely disregard the content.
6. Duplicate content on multiple accounts
Another common black hat social media technique is posting the same content to multiple social media accounts owned by the same person.
This is often done with illegitimate links that are posted to newly created spam accounts on Twitter, but we've seen it happen on other social networks as well.
This is often done to create the illusion that a product or service is more popular than it already is, but in reality only makes your product or service look spammy.
Like we discussed earlier, spotting fake accounts is painfully obvious. You can only vary your writing so much, and the social network is bound to catch on to your fake tweets by tracking your IP.
Black hat SEO bonus: using "doorway" pages will get you delisted
This is more related to black hat SEO, but still has a place on this list because it's often combined with black hat social media techniques: doorway pages.
Doorway websites are—in short—websites creates specifically to manipulate Google and other search engines.
Generally, multiple of these websites are created and point to the same content. However, it usually sends users through worthless intermediate pages along the way.
Oftentimes, these doorway pages are also shared to social media—especially when people sharing duplicate content to fraudulent accounts (see #7).
When you do this, you get the downsides of #7 plus the added downside of having Google penalize your page.
Yep, you read that right: Google knows about doorway pages and is actively penalizing them. So to avoid the headache, don't waste your time with doorway pages.
Stay safe out there!
Keep these black had social media techniques in mind as you build out your social media strategy. Remember, using these could destroy your social media presence, so do everything you can to stay away from these techniques.
Likewise, vet all of your social media contractors and freelancers. If you see them using one of these black hat social media techniques, it might be time to find someone new to work with.
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