Regular readers of this blog know I'm a very big proponentn of the communication benefit of social media, especially it's innate ability to raise the level of communication above that of typical marketing bullshit. You just can't control the message in social media.
Or so I thought.
In a recent tweet, Tom Foremski, the Silicon Valley Watcher, he dug out a 4-year-old Tech Crunch post from a Stanford engineering puke about how to get videos to go viral. The author stated, quite frankly, that his methods violate the intent of sites like YouTube and provide several layers of misdirection to get views in seven figures for his clients. In other words, he lies about the content to force viewers to see things that they really don't care about and wouldn't normally download.
In the past few months I've come into contact with services to guarantee app downloads of 100,000 or more; payment for forwarding tweets (I tried it to see what they were talking about and got disgusted after the first offer); and the ubiquitous SEO services that guarantee more web traffic.
So the basic method for marketing of the 20th Century is being force fed to the communications engine of the 21st. That's not a good thing, especially for companies that are attempting to follow that path.
The primary rule of sociual media is: "Don't @#$% with people." You will be found out and it will be on display everywhere. I've heard it said that the best way to ensure ethical behavior is to increase the likelihood you will be caught doing something unethical. The problem is there is no ethical standardfor social media as yet. There isn't even a dominant social media industry organization. And when you have a vacuum like that, bad things happen. Like lawyers and legislators.
I wrote earlier this week about good legislation that actually helps the industry int he long run, but when people unfamiliar with the basics of an industry get around to writing laws about the industry, lots of bad things can go wrong very quickly.
Don't be a marketing putz. Learn the value of social media and don't try to cram it into your 20th-Century marketing box. If you don't know how, hire someone who does and keep out of their way.