[Original Blog Post: http://goo.gl/fAamxp]
Make great stuff. Be social. Be real.
These pieces of advice might sound cliché to someone who is trying to build their Social Media and SEO strategy. It sounds too simple. It feels like it needs more. Of course, it does need more but only to elaborate on these three basic things.
I understand the temptations of the quick gain. Believe me I do. If I was a corporation, then I would say I have been running myself at a loss building my own presence. While some people might accumulate more followers in a shorter space of time than I have, or have driven more web traffic than I have, many are doing this in a way that essentially cheats the system and fails to build relationships, trust, and authority.
What is the system? I already said it. Make great stuff. Be social. Be real. That is what Google, Twitter, and every other smart Search or Social provider wants from you, and they tell you that. Never mind that someone thinks they've found a better way, and maybe it is even working for now, because it all comes down to this:
Who do you want to be? The person who builds the most enduring value for yourself, your brand, or your clients, or the person who is just waiting to run afoul of the consequences for your strategy? Conversely, if you're the person looking to hire someone for this, ask yourself: do you want to be woken up in the middle of the night to find the game is up, the tricks that person you hired used have fallen apart, and that suddenly he isn't answering your calls anymore, as he rushes to find new tricks and new clients?
You may not even think what you're doing is wrong, and maybe it isn't, but hindsight in this area is not only 20/20, but completely worthless. Ask yourself, "Is what I'm doing going to run afoul of some future update designed to block or rank down or decrease exposure to my stuff?" It's a question too few SEO's asked themselves, and the ones who did, while they may have lost out on opportunities sometimes to those who promised everything and a bag of chips, now look like geniuses, and their clients thank them for it.
My own "strategy" is what Len Raleigh calls the "Unstrategy". I make stuff I think is great, put it out there, talk to people (notice I'm not saying "my followers", "my audience", etc..., because while that description may sometimes be accurate, thinking of them that way will get you in trouble), and be absolutely authentic. If I have any strategy for creating content, it is simply to use the tools in the best ways I can find to use them, so for Google+ this could mean making use of text formatting, embedding images in posts, etc... For Twitter, this could mean using plenty of hashtags and reaching out with @mentions(you'd be surprised how often you get a reply). For a blog or website, this may mean thinking a bit about keywords, and organic ways to build backlinks, but not becoming obsessed to the point of keyword stuffing or risking a Penguin bomb.
I'd rather take ten years to build a brand honestly, rank honestly, grow a social media presence honestly, future-proofed against Penguins and Pandas and API changes (oh my) then to help them build some temporary and precarious glory that can be taken away as easily as it was given. The best brand is not the one with the best marketing department (though good marketing helps), it is the one that delivers consistency, reliability, and authenticity and strong relationships that will carry them even through the tough times. Apple has a great marketing department, but do you know what they have that is even better? Trust.
h/t for #unstrategy