What can we learn at Cision's expense?
- Thinking about using "advocates" or "ambassadors" for your brand? Make sure blog comment spamming isn't on their menu of things they'll do to promote your brand. Granted, Cision apparently wasn't using actual advocates--that was just the language they were using to disguise the sleazy SEO practices they were paying good money for. But to a regular person--not someone who knows enough to do the IP search stuff that Adam Singer did--seeing a blog comment signed "Meri A is an advocate for Cision" just makes them think "ew" and "why is Cision so stupid that they're allowing advocates to spam blog posts?" Blog comment spam is spam and nobody likes it. Period.
- There is no "right balance" between SEO best practices and authentic social media. SEO is about gaming people. There is nothing authentic about it. "Authenticity" and "Optimization" are at odds with each other, and there's no way around that. Nothing "murky" about it. Part of my job is managing my org's blog, and every day I'm amazed at the blog comment spam that gets past the spam filter. Companies seriously pay for that shit?
- Even if social media and marketing are in different silos internally, to outsiders they are one and the same. See how this worked in Adam's case? He tweeted about Cision's spam comment, which got him an answer from the social media manager. Who, as evidenced by her response to him, knew nothing about the SEO practices the company is employing--SEO practices that include commenting on blogs. I feel for her because, being a social media manager myself, I know how it is to know what's a good idea and what's not but not to be in control over someone else's bad idea because PR or marketing sits in a different silo. PR and marketing and social media are all converging in reality, yet the three remain three separate disciplines and squares on the org chart. Situations like this one and the daily examples of PR/marketing/social media gaffes companies are making are a testament to that, and sadly all we can do now is wait for organizational culture to catch up.