Is Social Media Marketing ethical?

Cameron Olthuis has defended the use of social media marketing as an SEO technique following Jason Calacanis’ latest statement, including the comments:

“This whole gaming of digg/Netscape/MySpace is being called SMO–social media optimization. That’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard of. Anyone who hires an SMO firm is an idiot.”

I would have to agree with Cameron on this:

“There is nothing wrong with promoting content, so long as you aren’t cheating the system. Actively promoting content is also important because unlike what those on soapboxes would have you believe, success doesn’t always just happen.”

SMO (Social Media Optimization) involves using social media websites (such as Digg, and Reddit) as a portal to distribute content to a wide audience. Providing the system isn’t being cheated the content must be of a high quality, otherwise it wouldn’t get enough votes to be promoted to the social media homepages. In my opinion this is an excellent method of sharing quality content with like-minded users, it obviously has the huge advantage of being able to increase traffic levels and gain hundreds of one-way links very quickly but I would not question this as unethical, even if it has been marketed specifically to get onto Digg, as people would still be voting and linking by choice. As I commented on the Search Engine Land post I would class spam as junk content promoted via forums, blog comments and email. If SMM is used to promote content on sites like Digg I don’t see this as a problem as it’s obviously got to be quality content to be successful.


A thirty-something code ninja + web diva. Former New Yorker who's passionate about web development, HTML/CSS, beautifying things and marketing.

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  1. i like social media marketing because it is easy for promoted products to get viral;”:

  2. social media marketing is kinda new yet people are making FB pages to promote their products —

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