I Know It’s Social… But STFU Already!

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Social media has brought about a great change on the web. It has never been easier for just about anyone to have a voice online, and have that voice heard by thousands. With so many people authoring blogs, participating in social communities, and utilizing the various social communication tools, how do you keep people from saying too much?

I mean it is social and all, but when is it time to “Shut the f**k up already”?


Marketers talk and they always have. In the past, when they shared tricks, accomplishments, and information, it was done on a face to face basis. Whether through an IM conversation, emails, or over a drink or two, the sharing was always controlled to a certain extent.

Sure even in those controlled environments, information can accidentally get out. For example, when Rand Fishkin, a well know search marketing expert, overheard Matt Cutts talking with some people at SES San Jose about the sandbox, he blogged immediately about
it
and caused quite a stir for publically releasing information that was from a private conversation. Luckily, social media was not as evolved as it is now, so the information and visibility of the blunder was minimal, thus quickly forgiven and forgotten.

Revealing too much information is not is not a new issue that is related only to social media. Even as far back as many of you might remember, there was always some marketer giving away just a little too much information. One example was when Bob Massa, SearchKing, announced that he was selling PageRank through his PR Ad Network. This prompted a trend of buying links for PageRank and resulted in Google launching a war against paid links.

Had Bob only shut the f**k up, he could have made a lot of money, but instead he lost the PR on his sites and it took four years to get it back.

So why is that people feel the need to talk about their accomplishments and the tricks they have figured out? There are three main reasons why people just cannot shut the f**k up:

The Good Guys are really good hearted marketers. When they discover a trick that works, they want to share it with their peers and friends.

We all love the good guys. They already know when to shut up and when to speak, and they are more likely to spend an evening sharing their tips and tricks face to face. It is the braggers and the ambitious people that you have to watch out for.

The Braggers lack confidence or desire attention. These marketers feel the need to brag about their accomplishments to fit in and make them feel accepted.

Normally I would say that the braggers are harmless, since they tend to have small followings and less of a reputation. However, every so often a somewhat visible and reputable marketer brags about something that they probably shouldn’t have.

Take Matt Inman, former SEOmozzer, who used widgets and quizzes to get inbound links with the anchor text “Free Online Dating” and “Online Dating” to his site Mingle2. The accomplishment earned his site the number 1 spot in Google for the top dating keywords above top dating sites like eHarmony.

Matt, obviously proud of his accomplishment, went on to explain in great detail exactly how he did it during SES San Jose in 2007. Something he would probably later wish he had just shut the f**k up about.

Mingle2 was later sold to JustSayHi, a competing website, due to Matt’s success. Next Internet, the parent company of JustSayHi, later asked
Matt to swap out some of the quiz and widget links with keywords like “Cash Advance” and point to some of their lead-gen websites.

It was a swap that did not go unnoticed. As a result widget links became an issue that Google felt had to be addressed immediately.

The fallout cost Matt all of his properties’ rankings, which was the success of his technique to begin with, but that was not all. It also
caused many big companies to lose millions of dollars when Google put an eye on widgets and the links they contained.

The Ambitious marketers want to increase their reputation and respect within their industry, at any cost.

The Ambitious are the people who scare me the most. They will gladly give away any tricks or tips they can so that they are seen as a leader in the industry. They often do not care about the industry or the people who work around them.

The recent Lyndoman situation is a perfect example. Lyndoman is a social media marketer who was well respected among the top social media marketers. He created a social media linkbait for a client that went to the front page of Digg and was even
mentioned on a television news broadcast.

Needless to say, the linkbait was a huge success. Lyndoman probably would have gone on to continue to do more linkbaits for the client, if he had only learned to shut the f**k up.

Lyndoman decided to brag about the campaign and announced to everyone that the article was actually false. “Absolutely-completely-utterly a fabrication, a tissue of lies weaved in a fog of deceit. Or what most people would call satire.” In addition to admitting the content was false, he also put his client out in the open to be judged on his behalf. An action that later drew the attention of Matt Cutts from Google, who commented, “

This resulted in multiple problems for Lyndoman and the social media marketing industry.

Although we have seen a major change in the way corporations have begun to embrace social media, there are many who are still concerned about losing control of their image, message, and reputation. The control they are accustomed to with traditional media doesn’t exist online. As a result,
corporations are afraid that one of the extreme or edgy content pieces marketers convince them to do. They are concerned it will hurt their reputation and business.

Unfortunately, this incident could hurt the entire industry by making clients wary of participating in social media. It will also impact the way social communities perceive content submitted by marketers.

Lyndoman admitted later, after losing the client and gaining a lot of negative media exposure, that the short lived fame from exposing the success of his campaign was not worth it. He even decided to remove the original post from his site saying, “At the end of the day it did more harm than good discussing publicly such effective tactics.”

As social media and online marketing continues to grow, we will see an even stronger desire for marketers to expose tricks and techniques in exchange for potential fame and recognition. In an effort to eliminate the chance for this to occur, an increasing number of top internet marketers have stopped talking about their secrets completely. The days of buying someone a beer and having them share their tricks are being replaced by smaller behind the scenes groups. They are increasingly becoming very cautious with who they allow in their circle of trust.

Even the newly crowned “rockstars” can still make mistakes, especially when they don’t realize the power of their voice. A great example is Jeremy “Shoemoney” Schoemaker. Shortly after becoming widely known online for affiliate marketing, he published a picture of a very large adsense check sent to him by Google.

Through blog posts and his radio show Net Income, Jeremy explained how he was able to make large amounts of money from the ringtone industry. This caused a lot of people to get into the ringtone market and drove up the keyword costs in PPC engines. Something he admits probably cost him a lot of money.

I have a lot of respect for each of the people referenced in this article. They are all experienced internet marketers, who at one point or another made a mistake. I use their examples only because they had a large impact on the internet marketing industry as a whole.

Everyone brags and everyone shares secrets, but you need to pick and choose the right time and place to do so. If you really want to gain the respect and reputation in the industry and your peers, save the bragging and ambition for the face to face encounters.

When it comes to disclosing your techniques and tricks, just shut the f**k up already!

Brent Csutoras is an internet marketing consultant, who specializes in social media, viral and search engine marketing.

131 thoughts on “I Know It’s Social… But STFU Already!

    1. Christina

      Well i found out that my male best friend (or whatever i am to him) was cheating on me on Minglet, with some 29 year old woman from England. Maybe he just wants someone wiser and more experienced, but then “having options” is his own problem. I ain’t giving him (Adam Kleist) anymore chances.

  1. WebGeek

    Brent, great article. That is sage advice, and I couldn’t agree more. There needs to be a balance between sharing helpful info and keeping the secret sauce under wraps. :)

  2. Brian Cox

    I suppose you could disclose some of your stuff only after your sure you’ve cornered the market for that particular subject and no one could take it from you.

  3. Bill

    Basically, you are telling people in the know to only talk to other people in the know.

    The rich get richer while the rest of us (your readerbase included) just keep feeding off the scraps you throw us.

    This article is nothing more than a “please don’t tell people how we make money”.

  4. Bill

    Also, the adsense check “made” this blog. Shoemoney wouldn’t be anything like it is today without that check so saying it was a mistake is simply not true and you know it

  5. Sean - Trying to build a network by hand

    yep. keep it to yourself is good advice – it is called competitive advantage or protecting intellectual property in the real world.

    The ego junkies for sure won’t be able to. your article probably won’t be as well received by this audience who is trying to squeeze every little nugget out of jeremy :)

  6. jim

    if shoemoney never posted the check, he never would’ve gotten as much attention as quickly and he wouldn’t be making $30-40k a month off this blog. sure he could’ve been making more on ringtones but for how long?

    the point is that it’s understandable if showing the check had a purpose, just like disclosing secrets and all that other stuff, but if it’s just bragging then you’re shot yourself in the foot

  7. Josh Buckley

    I partially agree, and i’ve learned this the hard way unfortunately…

    However, i agree with the others. Although shoemoney lost money by being open/posting the check. He made money indirectly, through the blog, and through the opportunities it made. It’s a catch 22 situation, but i bet it’s not as bad an idea as it sounded

  8. samo

    People will never STFU — because everyone wants these two things “Fame and Money”. Money does not work on its own. If you have the money, you want the fame — so you’ll do anything to get it. Even risk losing the money. Giving out info / showing up to big events — Its very rare to get someone who has money, but dosnt want the fame

  9. Dudibob

    good post and some good points regarding one person showing off about an achievement and lot’s of people getting burnt because of it. I personally think if Lyndon hadn’t of blogged about how he lied and got a load of links, he could of carreid on lying and getting a load of links! lol

  10. Warenwirtschaft

    I am often amazing why people dont STFU. They brag and brag and i listen and listen :-) You can make good money from these guys!
    After all most of the existing blogs are about some success-stories or tricks, If everyone would stop bragging, there wouldnt be many blogs left.

  11. John M Weaver

    “a few months after you’ve used them” isn’t a great idea if they are actually working for you. There are so many SEO methods that aren’t being discussed anymore, which is why sites like Search Engine Guide only talk about social media profiles rather than how to actually improve your rankings or SEO quality.

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention Aaron Wall, the king of handing out secrets.

  12. shuttingup

    Why share secrets with your competition? Whether you agree or not, if you are not a part of my inner circle you are my competition. Doesn’t mean that I don’t like you, just business is business.

    However…you can use your opps as a means for whatever boost you need…traffic, authority, respect etc.

    I’ve actually been following several influential mmo guys for a minute and have scratched my head when they share what they share but also have to be thankful they have or wouldn’t be doing some of the things I’m doing or aware of the steps I took to get started.

    Recently I found a glitch in a system that was being promoted by everyone. I thought about sharing it to grab some attention, use the traffic, and take advantage. Since I knew I wouldn’t have made any money directly from the glitch but could have used the attention, I figured I’d tell the company instead, except my “i owe you one” and feel good about my intentions…I didn’t even get a thank you from the guy.

    I realized no matter how big the smile or how much bulls@#$ some marketer feeds the intehweb, I don’t always believe their hype and it’s each person for themselves (circle). Guess my point is there are some things to share and some to hold onto. I’m to busy to be worried about who thinks I’m tha smardess, to much of a loner to be worried about being kewl and will always say f@$k the Jones. I don’t have to show anyone my checks or tell you about what kind of car I drive…You’ll see it when I pull up.

    Great post!

  13. Moneybites

    Wow,t his was an amazing thought provoking article that left me speachless. You’re right, sometimes its better to STFU. Afterall we all want fame but at what cost?

    Once again,

    Great post…

  14. Geiger

    Very nice examples. I remember a gentleman that was giving away a mod rewrite script that made all of your URLs more search engine friendly. Eventually he had to start selling it to stop having it be so widely used. He should have STFU and kept it for himself as long as possible.

  15. Dave

    Really great article, it’s refreshing to read some original content like this from time to time.

    The only thing I wanted to comment on, is that although the AdSense check may have lost him a lot of money in ringtones, I think it opened a lot of opportunities for the blog in terms of revenue (maybe nowhere near as much) as well as networking (which may potentially have lead to much more revenue).

    I obviously can’t answer this for shoemoney, but I tend to think that he doesn’t regret posting that photo even though he lost money on his campaigns.

  16. 80sfilms

    I suppose that if you want to break into the “make money” niche, you’d want to get credibility by releasing an idea that worked for you and don’t mind sharing. So there’s still use for blabbering on techniques.

  17. lawrenceq

    Most people go to so-called internet gurus and rockstars blogs to get something out of it. Let’s not lie to ourselves, the main reason is to learn to make money. I could care less about a fighters.com or any of that other shit. In order to keep readers coming back you have to give them something. I think this is why some guys run off at the mouth. They have to give the readers something to keep them happy and coming back for more. Right now I feel like most of these blogs are just selling products and bragging.

  18. WPblogger

    By showing the check, he didn’t disclose HOW he had gotten the check. He just proved that he knew what he was talking about.

    This is completely different.

  19. WPblogger

    Brian, saying “only after you’re sure you’ve cornered the market… and no one could take it from you” is the same thing as saying “never.” You’re always at risk from competition and it’s never a good idea to disclose your methods unless you’re going to make even more money by doing so (selling them as a course etc).

  20. WPblogger

    I couldn’t agree more. What pisses me off most is that the people who go and brag and get noticed ruin the tactic for everyone else who was smart enough to keep it to themselves.

    There’s nothing quite like killing the goose that laid the golden egg. In my experience, SEO’s are the worst at this.

  21. James

    I agree and disagree with what you are saying. I actually love that ShoeMoney talks about fighters.com like he did with auctionads.com. I do not think many CEO’s would walk us through development/marketing/launching everything until selling a multi million dollar company.

    So while you might not care about MMA with fighters.com I think his marketing techniques so far have been pretty ingenious and can be applied elsewhere.

  22. Farmer

    If you can’t think outside the box far enough to get in on something before I run it into the ground, sucks to be you.

  23. ShoeMoney

    The check was without a doubt a huge tipping point for this blog. It was really the first time an site talking about making money online actually showed a little of their cards.

    I think the massive success story of AuctionAds was also another big tipping point.

    The single biggest thing I have over my competitors is I have done what most of them talk about doing.

  24. Brent Csutoras

    You really believe Shoemoney would not have found a way to make success… seriously? You can always pinpoint a mistake and say that it made something good but in a long window mistakes often come out positive and good moves turn out bad. I think there is probably quite a few other factors that make it turn out that way.

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  26. Matthew Inman

    One thing I need to clarify: I didn’t lose my rankings because I did an interview last summer about my widget/quizzes. I lost my rankings in January when a reporter from the guardian saw one of my blog widgets and got upset when there was a “payday loan” link embedded in the HTML. After that I was reported to google and we were penalized. Bragging had nothing to do with it.

  27. purposeinc

    Brent,
    Great to see you blog here.
    That was a post that I am sure a lot of people were glad – not- to have seen their names in :)

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  29. Barbara Ling

    The fact is, you can share your secrets until the cows come home but generally (as in GENERALLY), MOST folks who learn them lack the initiative to actually put them into action.

    That’s why MMO folk will often tell what they’ve done – their customers want the same results without putting in the same effort.

    I share many of my successful techniques and stay quite closed-mouthed about current works in progress. It balances out nicely.

    Data points,

    Barbara

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  31. Website Reveiws

    That is a great post! I really enjoyed it! I am always a big fan of when somebody allows a little bit of criticism of themselves!

    Show, isn’t this blog the only thing you do?

  32. Nick

    I have noticed that many sites are a lot more tight-lipped than they previously were…it seems the lessons are being learned and a lot of the newer tips and examples are more vague than some of the older ones.

  33. George

    Just curious; why in your article you have f**k when FUCK is written in big red letters in your (unattributed) giant .jpg image at the top of the article? Too many fucks for your sensitive audience?

  34. Hustle Strategy

    exactly, he created a virus and had it spread across the world. the virus mimicked normal web surfing for users, but the traffic tended to go to nextpimp alot and click on ads. this was done back in the day before google had more advanced algorithms in their logging to detect fraud, that is why he doesn’t make as much through them now (or recommend them) — atleast that is an interesting made up story…

  35. Anthony at Work-at-home-Wealth.com

    I mostly agree with this article. There’s some balance to be maintained as in most of life issues. For instance, if you are using some MMO technique which is not black-hat, but takes advantage of a SE loophole, you MUST STFU 1) because if it gets noticed by SE’s personnel you are losing that source of income for sure (and it will be noticed sooner than later) 2) because even if you are trying to help other people, making that technique widespread known, won’t help them at all in the end 3) because in case you are aware that technique is not goint to work soon, it would be unethical to make money out of selling that information (something which a lot of Guru’s do BTW).

  36. Terry Tay

    There are a lot of times I wish I just STFU. Some with regards to business and others with regards to the personal life ;-) It’s tough sometimes to know what you should and shouldn’t say and how much info about your techniques you want to release.
    ~Terry

  37. Sergey Rusak

    People love to share their success. It is not only about Internet. People talk about business success, military secrets, cheating… Remember what happened when Monica told her friend about Bill Clinton. We all know what happened.

  38. Shadab Malik

    for the simple fact – when u share things, things would be shared with you.
    people want to build a reputation, so in case when someone comes up with something freaky, he lets me know about it… cz i just proved that i am not among the lessers nd if he share things with me i will validate it.. ;) STFU wud make people hungry and might increase Black hats..

  39. Jeff

    Its fine to share stuff that doesn’t impact your strategic advantage.. But to brag about your stuff that can hurt you is usually ego overcoming common sense.

  40. Jeff Woelker

    All I can do is nod and agree with many of the points in here. Successful strategies should only be shared with the client and then only after going through the possible pitfalls, shared with the industry.

  41. Geiger

    It’s funny. That check was one of the main things that got me motivated to make online money. I’ve learned a lot since but I think I would compare it more to “maturing” instead of learning. Facts can be memorized but it takes a certain level of online maturity to make real money.

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  43. Jorge M. Vega

    Many thanks for this comprehensive, informative and, at least for me, eye opening article about something most of us new marketers, especially those who, like me, are about to launch their own blogs, know precious little about: knowing when enough is enough.

    Some of what you say tells me that, instead of trying so hard to become the ‘prophet’ or undisputed authority in your niche, it’s better to stay open and objective, and learn a little from others first.

  44. Jorge M. Vega

    Many thanks for this comprehensive, informative and, at least for me, eye opening article about something most of us new marketers, especially those who, like me, are about to launch their own blogs, know precious little about: knowing when enough is enough.

    Some of what you say tells me that instead of trying so hard to become the ‘prophet’ or undisputed authority in your niche, it’s better to stay open and objective, and learn a little from others first. After, you can shut the f !! up…

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  47. Robert

    Totally agree with this article. Making money online is one thing. Just spouting out your business practices is another. We have a shitload of tactics that I would even try to blog about. I might tell them to a few trusted friends that need some help, but otherwise, I consider them trade secrets.

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  50. Web Marketeer

    Balance being the 95% that is fairly straightfoward and common knowledge and should bring success to sites operating in less competitive niches vs the 5% of secret tricks that can make even the most competitive niches accessible to your clients….

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  59. Garry

    But, as soon as you tie a recurring revenue affililate program to ANY new offering, you can expect people to a) market it hard b) market it grey c) market it to their Mom.

    It’s a a paradox. Learn the best secrets of the web, but do no tell anyone or try and make money from it.

    If a socially-conscious SEO tool wants to stay on the D/L, don’t offer cash money, recurring, for every new sign up.

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  62. Steve Constable

    The four SEO marketing personalities you describe all have one thing in common – ambition so strong that it can be considered hubris. You see when you go out on the stump in front of your peers and claim to have discovered something great – you open yourself up in horrible ways. Anyway, I always look at things in the total picture. These so called gurus are just stuck in their own tunnel vision technique. They miss the other aspects of SEO – right down to their peril. And in the end they just stand out like a mad black hatter.

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  64. Eric Itzkowitz

    This is a good article, which reflects on the flawed human EGO. Everybody is so concerned with how people view them that they tend to make these types of mistakes. This is nothing new and certainly never going to go away. In fact, this flaw is the reason our economy is so wonderful today.

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  66. Jason

    Disclosing some of your secrets doesn’t seem wise but things change so you are going to have to adjust anyways. Why not share?

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  72. Kouba

    Hmm… I read blogs on a similar topic, but i never visited your blog. I added it to favorites and i’ll be your constant reader.

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