Original: December 14 2006

You have by now likely read many collections of rules related to best practices for social media optimization. In fact, Rohit Bhargava, VP of Interactive Marketing for Ogilvy Public Relations has a terrific blog post which links out to several other posts all related to the same topic.  I think all told we are up to about 20 rules, which is sort of funny, given that the web was never about rules, otherwise it wouldn’t have happened.  Some committee in Washington would still be arguing over whether URLs should start with http:// or site= or some other silliness.

But in reading over the many good natured attempts to offer a set of voluntarily accepted SMO practices, I see very few that get to the very heart of the social media issues public relations professionals face. I don’t want to lecture and nobody likes being lectured to.  So, since I’ve been around doing online publicity since before the first search engine appeared (that’s 1993 folks)  here are a few of the “What Not To DO” rules I’d like to share with regards to using Social Media and by extension, Optimization of Social Media.

Rule #1 – Do not create fake accounts (sock puppet accounts) at places like Digg, Del.icio.us, technorati, etc., just so you can fill them with links, diggs, tags, etc., in hopes of artificially boosting your page to the top of those venues.  Fake accounts have been around since the first days of email, and who among us doesn’t have multiple email accounts, or multiple blogs?  So don’t act innocent. If you have a bunch of accounts you create solely for the purpose of creating a false sense of buzz for your own site or your client’s, then stop it.

Use a little discretion and logic when tagging your posts and articles about any given topic.

Rule #2 – Limit your ego-diggs.  If you ask a friend or two to digg your latest article/blog post, that’s fine, but if you are digg-pandering to hundreds of your “closest pals” then stop kidding yourself.  That’s just another form of stuffing the ballot box, and you know it.

Rule #3 – Stop tag abuse.  Say you have a client who’s a dermatologist who specializes in the treatment of acne scars.  Use a little discretion when tagging your posts or articles about that topic.  There are 37,000 posts tagged Acne over at Technorati, but only 356 tagged Acne scars. Bingo.  And even within that smaller set of 356 I see plenty-o-tag spam.

Link well my friend,

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