For PR pros and social media marketers, getting content on Reddit, the self-proclaimed “front page of the internet,” is becoming increasingly cutthroat.
First, Reddit began expelling individual users caught spamming or deliberately “upvoting” their own content. Then came the blacklisting of entire Web domains accused of promoting their own content to appear more popular.
Now a search engine marketer who goes by the Reddit handle Friggersly may have exposed a hole in that system.
The redditor posted an online conversation among black hat social media marketers who are getting rival brands barred from Reddit by exploiting the forum’s stringent policies. The gist: Spammers make shill accounts and intentionally promote the content of competitors, to the point where they raise enough flags, ultimately giving Reddit no choice but to blacklist the target website.
Reddit has exploded in the last three years, with monthly page views climbing into the billions and a reported 67 million unique visitors
in July alone. Because the social news site’s traffic and viral share-ability spell gold for websites and advertisers, it explains why some might go to great lengths to gain the upper hand.
The conversation Friggersly reportedly came across
reveals a candid discussion that outlines tactics for knocking down a competitor. Here’s a snippet:
Personally I prefer just making a load of accounts off one IP then trying to make them look savvy.
Although this online conversation cannot be readily verified due to the covert tactics involved, knowing there’s potential success in such a calculated takedown effort is a scary thought. (Of course, this conversation could itself have been falsified; you never know on the Internet.)
They're going to get caught at some point but that's the point.
Post in all kinds of s--- subreddits but make sure you've got the target site being used on all of them.
Make it look like you ALMOST know what you're doing.
Then keep that up for a few weeks.
[17:11] Yeah that's how I do it.
[17:11] Got one in progress today and another on the list for next month.
[17:11] Takes f--- all time too. Just do it for an hour or so a day.
[17:11] Then before you know it none of your competitors can use Reddit.
[17:12] hehe mean ;)
[17:12] But yeah it works :P
[17:12] Can't argue results.
[17:12] You guys do this often?
If this tactic exists and actually works, targeted websites could be left in a peculiar situation, in which they’re stripped of any power over their content. Once barred, they’d be without recourse.
It was just last year when Reddit’s heavy ax fell on The Atlantic and its social media editor, Jared Keller. Both were barred—The Atlantic temporarily and Keller for good—after Keller was found promoting content and driving millions of visitors to The Atlantic’s website for well over a year. Other media companies attempt to game Reddit for traffic by paying off influential redditors.
As Business Insider points out, those black hat practices aim to create positive buzz for a brand. The purported takedown method, on the other hand, creates buzz in a destructive approach: Be the last one standing by surreptitiously eliminating all your competitors.
[RELATED: Master can't-ignore social media tools with Mark Ragan's one-day social media boot camp.]
It opens a discussion to whether this type of black-propaganda marketing strategy could apply to other social platforms as well. It’s worth investigating.
Have you noticed anything fishy like this on Reddit or other social media networks?