Reviews & Reputation

How Black Hat Social Media Can Damage Your Online Reputation

How can black hat social media tactics damage your online reputation?


Have you ever posted a positive review on your own business’ Facebook page? Or maybe paid to get more Twitter followers? While these tactics may seem beneficial to your company and harmless to your online reputation, the truth is they are considered “black hat” social media tactics and are not as helpful as you might think.

What Is Black Hat Social Media?

Simply put, “black hat social media” refers to the act of leveraging social media tools in a way that violates or undermines the platform’s website guidelines for a perceived gain. The term “black hat” was originally used to describe individuals who would hack into security systems for malicious purposes. It now encompasses a range of bad-faith marketing practices enacted to boost one’s online presence. Some of the most common black hat social media practices include buying followers in an attempt to appear more established or legitimate, as well as posting inauthentic reviews for your own — or a competitor’s — business. These underhanded tactics contrast sharply with white hat SEO and social media strategies, which are designed to yield organic search results and social metrics.

Similar to the way black hat SEO “tricks” search engines into ranking your website higher, black hat social media uses techniques to improve your status through unethical practices that go against the particular social media service’s terms. This can be done by either positively or negatively affecting a business in a fraudulent way.

Examples of such behavior include:

  • Buying fans (such as likes, followers, subscribers, etc.) from a click farm
  • Sharing potentially dangerous links through your profile
  • Using an automated program to follow or unfollow other accounts
  • Creating a fake profile to participate in a page or to retrieve info from others
  • Posting fake negative reviews on a competitor’s page or a positive one to your own
  • Making a fake profile for a competitor with negative comments to make them look bad
  • Stealing another business’ unique content
  • Establishing links to sites that feature non-relevant content

While there are several perceived ways to “get ahead” by breaking social media sites’ rules, the above tactics are some of the most common. By implementing black hat social media, you may see positive results initially, but with increasingly strict spam control, your profile may be penalized, if not completely removed.

In the end, people want to follow a company because they support and respect them. Having fake followers, for instance, will not help you achieve your goal of engaging with your social media followers. Additionally, some social media sites are practicing the act of cleansing profiles of spam followers, which can create a devastating loss for some users who have bought fake fans. Instead of spending money on black hat tactics, why not invest it into an ethical system that can help you organically grow your following to improve your online reputation and achieve long-lasting results?

At Rosemont Media, we are committed to helping our clients earn their positive reputation through ethical social media marketing strategies. Our emphasis on quality allows us to successfully utilize social media to create a conversation while establishing meaningful relationships with your audience.

To learn how our team’s social media strategy can transform your online presence, please contact us today!

Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published on May 27, 2015.

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Katie is the Senior Content & SEO Strategist at Rosemont Media. Growing up in Illinois surrounded by corn fields, Katie started her transition west by attending Augustana College in the Quad Cities, where she received her BA in Business Administration and Communication Studies. After earning her degree, Katie made her way to San Diego to experience the bliss of living in paradise as she pursued a career in marketing. A Midwesterner at heart, she ultimately returned to Illinois to be closer to family. In her free time, Katie enjoys spending time outdoors, reading, and exploring the local brewery scene.