Gray Hat Social Marketing

Every week, Copywrite Inc.’s Rich Becker and I discuss a blogging best practice on BlogStraightTalk, a Bumpzee community. This we week we discussed White Hat Marketing vs. Black Hat Marketing.

The purpose of the Joe Thornley post “White hat social marketing” was to clarify what is appropriate business behavior and outcomes for social media. At issue is protecting the trust and transparency that are essential to social media. A paraphrase of the post for context…

White Hat Marketing: Find others who share our interests and form communities with them. Companies need to “understand how to enter into mutually beneficial long term relationships with online communities.”

Black Hat Marketing: Use social media to achieve a short-term increase in conversions for online commerce. Mine the information we enter in social networks to generate marketing databases or post corporate marketing videos under the guise of consumer generated media.

Here are some of our takeaways…

Geoff Livingston:

  • Any business that attacks social media with Machiavellian hard selling, non relational pitches will fail. They must engage in conversation, build relationships and foster a community with their efforts. That’s how conversational marketing works.
  • To assume that a commercial concern – i.e. a business – will invest in and execute social media campaigns for no tangible benefit is ridiculous. Why? It flies in the face of the very role businesses play in our real world community.
  • Companies have gray hats. Their conversation allows them to become a better serving member of the community, but they are there for a reason.

Rich Becker:

  • The white hat-black hat definition of social conscience has been around much longer than social media. Its roots are easily identifiable within community relations and strategic philanthropy.
  • Most businesses are operating to generate some type of revenue. Believe it or not, that might actually be a good thing because as they earn revenue, they employ more people, which stimulates the economy; they give back more to the communities in which they operate (we can hope); they can earn more for shareholders, who tend not to be “fat cats” as much as they are little people with 401K plans who would like to retire one day.
  • For good measure, they can employ social media to help nurture the concept of active consumers as opposed to passive shoppers. How cool is that?

BlogStraightTalk publishes every Monday. Join us.

Related links:

What’s Your Blogging ROI and True ROI on Blogging and Social Media