Lee Odden

Session: Social Media Optimization

This is a bit of a late post but I want to get it out there before it gets swallowed up by all the other half-finished posts in my WordPress control panel. 🙂

I am happy to say that the session on social media optimization with Neil Patel, Andy Hagans, Rand Fishkin, Todd Malicoat and I during SES Chicago last week went pretty well. Todd and I did not do PowerPoint presentations but we did get a few minutes to introduce ourselves and talk a little bit about SMO.

Neil started things off with a very unique and humorous explanation of Wikipedia. Basically, “Don’t spam Wikipedia.”

Rand followed up with an excellent review of the various social media sites ranging from digg to StumbleUpon to reddit. He made excellent points on how these communities are sensitive to promotion and provided general guidelines for interacting with them.

Andy was the last presenter, taking a direct and to the point position that he was not interested in building or contributing to social news or bookmark communities. He is there to use them as tools to make money and that’s it. The audience responded with applause, which you don’t see that often at conferences.

Most social news and bookmark communities loathe explicit marketing efforts. While there is entertainment value in alluding to being a SMO spammer at a conference, there is another set of considerations when actually implementing a sound marketing strategy using social media.

The search spam mentality has at it’s foundation a value in shortcutting the system rather than following the imposed guidelines put forth by the search engines and social media communities. The mindset is one that assumes that as long as you can get away with it, it’s ok. Or in more extreme cases that it’s a disposable marketing channel.

I am certainly no stranger to the act of pushing boundaries to see what pushes back, but if a channel can be productive long term, why slash and burn it? I don’t think slash and burn is what Andy meant with the transparency in his motives, but there are others that hear such things and will take it to heart. I’ve seen many of the resources he’s created or “had created” and they really do offer value. Otherwise, they wouldn’t become the “home runs” that hit the digg home page or delicious popular page.

My only concern is that budding social media marketers that are attracted to the “make money at any cost” perspective will take a “disposable marketing channel” approach to marketing with social media. This will only make it harder for us SMO nerds and “goodie two shoes” marketers that see social news and media as key components within a long term multichannel online strategy.

Maybe I’m taking a bit of a devil’s advocate approach to this but I am curious what others think.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. hard to slag the perspective offered here, as an avid reader and occasional clicker on links seen in sports venue adverts, I’ve had more fun than not with the way y’all do business out on the banners and footers of any particular website I’m looking at

  2. I suspect it depends on how competitive things are, Lee. With enough continuing innovation, I suspect that if things got too competitive you would move along to the next avenue, so as to avoid having to be “ugly”. Others who stick around just get more and more obvious as the bar is raised. There can only be so many “subtle” commercial wiki links, right? But if there is one there needs to be another from the competitor, and another…

    I completely agree with the idea of long term utilization, but I’m not sure these channels have much of a future.

  3. Good points John and I guess part of my question concerns to what degree the longevity of the channel is affected by the growth of sloppy manipulation.

    I used to think, rather naively, that the q/a of the community and algorithms would be enough filter the crap from the good stuff. The past few months have been an eye opener.

    Normal search engines seem to be handling it well enough, albeit not perfectly. Regardless of intention, if the community is served by marketers creating content, then I say full steam ahead.


  1. Cornwall SEO » 62 posts on how to squeeze the juice from digg says:

    […] Session: Social Media Optimization Session : Link Baiting & Viral Search Success SES Chicago Social Media Optimization Panel […]