Digital Consultant at Accenture
08 January 2010 12:43pm
We run a B2B website for a nice market for law firms.
I recently noticed a post in our discussion forum which was unusual. It didn't ask a question or start a debate but merely suggested that "HR software was useful" and linked to a webinar run by a software developer.
The IP address was generic UK telecoms provider, but luckily the email address used to post was from a social media agency.
When googling the link used, we noticed that a similar message had been posted in a variety of HR and Finance forums. The posts were different, but contained the same keywords... which led me to believe that an agency had spammed our forum with the intention of pure link-building.
Not too dissimmilar to this post on econsultancy Is Nokia guilty of SEO PR astroturfing / comment spamming?
Our discussion forum rules are pretty clear, that we want to share knowledge, experiences, feedback and information within our community. Unfortunately the post does nothing of that kind (I suppose it shares useless information).
I'd be interested to hear what people think of the tactic used, whether this is considered spamming (it's ertainly not best practise in my opinion), and why a lot of agencies can't contribute anything useful (sorry for the generalisation).
Incidentally, the agency was shortlisted for econsultancy's Innovation in Social Media Award 2009 - I assume not on the basis of these practises...
Senior marketing officer - online at MyScience.co Ltd
09 January 2010 20:05pm
Timur, I would suggest you just delete the post, as it breaks your forum rules and ban the IP address from posting to the forum.
You could also name and shame the agency on this forum and ask them to justify themselves to the forum - I agree with you on the fact that forum posts should be relevent to the topic and that posting irrelvent posts with keyphrases links is a form of spam.
Director at Qube Media
11 January 2010 12:26pm
Hi Timur - completely agree with John, you should delete the post, as it sounds like spam to me.
Maybe contact them and ask about it before naming and shaming them, in case they didn't mean to spam or someone at their end is acting against their own company line in terms of online engagement?
11 January 2010 13:49pm
Hi guys, thanks for your comments, and I am glad I am not the only one who thinks it's spamming.
I spoke to the account manager at the agency (Agency:2) for the client (CIBER Consulting) the day after the post, 18 Dec '09, and conveyed my concerns. I was told they would remove the post... they haven't so far.
So, I suppose in the spirit of social media it is always good to use forums and blogs to engage actively with your audience, and I agree that naming the company and agency involved could shed some more light on why these forum posts were done/ whether it's company policy/ if they consider it spamming etc.
I would be interested to hear from Agency:2 about their practises and whether they think it's spamming.
I've heard from CIBER Consulting, who don't approve of spamming... but do they think that they have spammed our forum? (and about 10 other discussion forums)
Lawyer at 866attylaw
12 January 2010 14:38pm
Maybe they have outsourced their SEO work to some company that is engaing such ways.
Director at Web Spiders Ltd
27 January 2010 08:22am
It would be interesting to know the name of this agency and their amateur approach to this work. I mean even if you want to back link, the least you could do is to give an intelligent response and message, use a bio-persona and not spam sites with the same message. It might also be an automated tool used to create quick back links
Assistant Marketing Manager at Nu-Heat
27 January 2010 09:13am
I would be inclined to delete the post as it sounds like spammy link building. That said the value of back links from forums is pretty negligible anyway so they are probably not getting too much worth from it
E-Business Consultant at Dan Barker
27 January 2010 12:50pm
Surprised they haven't popped their heads up here. This seems to be against their policy:
27 January 2010 13:04pm
So am I. Would have thought that this forum is a perfect opportunity to share your ethics and policies, and maybe help the community understand what 'went wrong'.
The only contact I've had is a voicemail from Joel (Agency2 CEO and econsultancy member) to say they have removed the post.
I thought social media was also about responding to negative comments and sentiments of existing and potential customers. Using the discussion as an opportunity to put a positive spin on 'things' and show the value-adding and caring side of your business.
Is it a case of do as we say, but not as we do?
CEO at Econsultancy
02 February 2010 13:12pm
It certainly sounds like spam to me. Just delete it.
This is a problem (people spamming this forum as well as comment spam on our blog) that we encounter. And the more successful you are, the worse it gets. You get different kinds of spam e.g. this 'SEO spam' but also plenty of 'commercial spam', particularly, for us, from China e.g. selling fake Nike shoes and the like.
There is no question in my mind that this is spam so we don't lose any sleep over deleting it. However, the bigger issue is the user experience and how to manage this spam so that the entire site doesn't get polluted by it. On the one hand you can pre-moderate all comments which would get rid of spam but lead to an annoying posting experience. On the other hand you could make it really easy to post and you get lots of activity but loads of spam.
On the blog we're now successfully using a service from Six Apart called TypePad AntiSpam which has really helped in filtering out spam before it goes live. It uses machine learning type approaches to 'quarantine' spam before it goes live and we then manually choose whether to reinstate or not.
However, we've found this doesn't work in the forum as too many legitimate posts are marked as spam by the service ('false positives') which was frustrating users trying to post and not seeing their comments appear. So it's a bit more of a free for all here!
BTW, it's always worth covering yourself in your site T&Cs to make sure you *can* remove comments / posts if you want to. In our T&Cs it says:
"While Econsultancy cannot review all transmissions by Users in the Forums, we reserve the right to, and may from time to time, monitor any information transmitted or received through our service. Econsultancy, at our sole discretion and without further notice to you, may review, remove, or otherwise block any information (including posts to message boards, forums and blogs) that we deem inappropriate or that violates any of these Terms and Conditions."
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