When Google’s major “Panda” update came out months ago, it played havoc with a lot of established websites that had been previously enjoying higher rankings and lots of traffic. One of the biggest changes to the super-secret formula used by the world’s most popular search engine was that it seemed to be penalizing businesses that received lots of links from low-quality sites.
In other words, Google decided to punish those who seemed to be trying to game the system.
Looking back, it was a completely logical shift that more people should’ve expected. After all, nobody likes finding junk articles and nonsensical pages in their search results. It was only a matter of time before the team at Google started filtering them out.
Looking forward, however, there could also be some implications for the future… and especially social media marketing.
Right now, companies seem to think that the name of the game on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn is to gather as many friends, fans, contacts, and followers as possible. But, as more and more people turn to these sites daily, it’s becoming clear that some of these associations are next to useless.
Is it possible that the major search engines, or social media sites themselves, may start penalizing marketers who seemed to be engaging in “friend spam?” It’s not impossible. And even if they don’t, it’s very likely that users will start screening their messages and friend requests more carefully than they have in the past.
With that in mind, here are a few quick tips for staying on the right side of the search engines, social networking sites, and people in your web of contacts:
- Have a reason to connect. If you want someone to “friend” or “like” your company, give them a reason (like a discount, or access to exclusive products).
- Don’t act like a spammer. If all you do is broadcast offers from your profiles, then no one’s going to pay attention. Be sure to share breaking news, new content, and other items that are useful to your contacts.
- Form relationships, not lists. Try to engage your fans and followers in a one-on-one way. It takes a little more time than just sending out random tweets does, but it’s also the key to using social media marketing to build customer loyalty.
Social media marketing is constantly changing
If Google’s Panda update can teach us anything, though, it’s that making smart connections is always a good strategy for the future.