‘Black Hat’ is a phrase originally coined to refer to a type of hacker — one who “violates computer security for little reason beyond maliciousness or for personal gain.” In the search marketing world, “black hat SEO” refers to techniques and tactics that increase search engine rankings in ways that fall outside of the search engines’ guidelines or terms of service. (Conversely, “white hat SEO” refers to SEO techniques and tactics that are ethical — i.e., fall within the search engines’ guidelines.) Black hat techniques are typically effective in the short-term but probably will result in penalties or a complete ban in the long run. So what is ‘Black Hat Social Media’?
Black Hat Social Media is:
- Results-driven – focused on quick gains
- Dishonest – built on fake profiles and deceptive messages
- Unethical – techniques often go against the terms of service for a specific platform
White Hat Social Media is:
- Relationship-driven – focused on building a quality network
- Authentic – real people who have real concerns
- Interesting – relevant content that attracts like-minded individuals
Black hat social media is basically what happens when companies try to manipulate social media to their advantage. You can’t easily manipulate the masses to do your bidding. Perhaps a web crawler or search engine algorithm can be fooled, but real people have more experience at identifying frauds.
Moral of the story: Before you act, ask yourself why you want to take a particular action. If broadcasting that reasoning on the social web would make you uncomfortable, it is black hat.