Protect Digg, StumbleUpon & Propeller from uSocial.net’s Spammers

Protect Digg, StumbleUpon & Propeller from uSocial.net’s Spammers

I hate that I’m writing this post, but I’ll be damned if this service goes unnoticed by any of the 13 readers of my blog. I’m lying. I actually love that I’m writing this. Passion like this doesn’t come frequently to me, so when it’s here – I’m tapping it.

As the post title suggests I’m talking about uSocial. Specifically, uSocial.net. I’m not sure what they prefer to go by and we won’t know too much more until they launch on December 1st. When I hope you choose not to do business with them.

Emails from Serena Adamson at uSocial.net

I was contacted early Monday by Serena Adamson, the Publicity & Marketing Manager for uSocial.net. She emailed me about a joint venture opportunity where I would effectively pimp uSocial.net in exchange for some affiliate commissions.

It makes sense, provided that you didn’t take time to learn about me before pitching me. It was just last week that I ranted on ethics and social conversations, right?

Okay, fine.

So I took the bait looking to hear more about this wonderful proposal. The response I got back was both appauling and frustrating. Social Media Marketing is for some reason seen as a relative to Search Engine Marketing. I don’t buy that other than for the value of link generation – but that’s another topic for another time.

Rather than post Serena’s entire reply, here are two parts I want to highlight. The emphasis placed on certain sections are all my doing.

uSocial.net is a traffic generation company who provides our clients with high-quality traffic at a cost that cannot be compared with PPC, banner advertising and most other forms of traditional paid traffic generation. We manipulate social bookmarking sites like Digg and provide our client’s content on these sites with paid votes, enabling them to quickly and easily reach the front page of these sites and in turn, receive a flood of traffic. On average with our clients in testing, we have been able to provide over 100,000 unique visitors in 24 hours with an investment which upon launch will cost clients between $200-$300 USD with Digg, and around $100-$150 with StumbleUpon and Propeller. However, we have experienced up to 220,000 unique visitors in 24 hours. And unlike cheap paid hits sites, this is all quality, unique traffic coming from social bookmarking sites.

While most people can see the extreme value in investing in votes for sites like Digg, many are apprehensive about using such services as in the past it has resulted in their social bookmarking accounts being closed, or their site being banned from these sites. With uSocial this is a thing of the past for clients as we submit their content for them as well as place paid votes on it, meaning the risks involved in such practices are now a thing of the past.

Normally I would just fire off an irate reply, but I decided to see how far I could get Serena to go here. I asked her openly if I could blog about uSocial.net here on my blog with the intentions of raising awareness to the service, the launch of it, and its impact on the space. Word for word, that was my request.

Serena was all for it.

What About Ethics?

It’s no secret that Digg (and other communities) have taken strong stands against those in violation of the terms of service. Accounts have been banned. Sites have been effectively excluded. While some can rightfully get upset about how they’ve gone about doing that, Kevin Rose and the rest of Digg are trying to make the entire community a better place.

Enter the topic of ethics.

Don’t get me wrong. I could use some extra money just as much as the next guy. I’ll still favor ethics over a quick buck any day.

But these guys have a trademarked tag line of Get votes. Get traffic. Get Paid.

It sounds like one of those “Get Listing in 3,457,286 Search Engines -GUARANTEED” claims of bullshit.

Whatever happened to transparency? Why can’t they just say with no degree of uncertainty – that they’re spamming the shit out of social networks, polluting the user communities and gaming what is shown as the most popular stories?

Another thing. On their About Us Page they display their email addresses as an image with the following disclaimer:

You won’t be able to click the addresses above as we’ve made it an image to prevent those naughty spam-bots getting a hold of it, so we ask that you simply type it manually into whatever email program you currently use.

Right, because you’re all about the reduction of spam on the ‘net. I hope no one posts your email addresses of contact@usocial.net or affiliates@usocial.net anywhere else for those bots to find.

Sorry, it’s just unethical. I may not care if they didn’t try to dismiss the “risks involved” to site owners. You and I both know that someone will hire them in an flash and pay up for their services, and eventually get burned.

Secretive Social Bookmarking Ninjas

In the link building and search engine marketing space, ninja has become synonymous with Jim Boykin‘s firm, We Build Pages, an organization that has Jim fighting to preserve their image in the honor of ethical marketing.

uSocial.net claims to have “Secretive Social Bookmarking Ninjas”. As if ninjas alone conjures up images of massive, fumbling thugs who do nothing but stand out like a sore thumb.

When you decide to use uSocial to generate traffic for your website, sales page or product, we use our extensive network of secretive Social Bookmarking Ninjas to generate as many votes as you’d like for your website or content on social bookmarking sites Digg, StumbleUpon and Propeller. This will result in your website or page being shown on the much sought after front  page of these social networking portals and inevitably lead to a flood of traffic to your site…

More on the ninjas can be seen in their FAQ section:

Who votes for my submission on the social bookmarking sites?
We have our own network of Social Bookmarking Ninjas who are all employees of uSocial. Whereas our competitors rely on other Internet users to vote on content for them, which is not only unreliable but can result in some disgruntled social bookmarking site users giving negative votes, our worldwide employees are all screened and their voting monitored to ensure that the greatest possible amount of your votes are delivered to you, as well as being delivered on-time.

Flaunting Their Success in the FAQs

One visit to their FAQ page reveals that they’re openly gaming Digg and others. Remember the whole account deletion subject? Check this FAQ out:

Am I doing something illegal when using your vote-buying service?
No. While social bookmarking sites don’t like people buying votes on their sites, there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing it. Sites like Digg forbid you buying votes as part of their terms and service and they can close your account as a result of you purchasing votes, though we have already served tens of thousands of votes and as yet, not one of our users has reported to us their account has been closed.

They then go on to casually address the risk they’ve already sold you against:

Is is possible my social bookmarking account could be banned if I buy uSocial votes? Unfortunately yes, this is possible as several of the sites we use forbid it as part of their terms of service, however we have already tested thousands of votes over dozens of accounts and as yet, no account has been closed due to the secretive and advanced methods of vote generation we use.

Protect Social Communities

The great thing about social communities online is that they tend to police themselves pretty well. I hope if nothing else, some of the more conscious members of these networks can help spread the word about uSocial and be on the lookout for their continued spamming when the company officially launches on December 1st.

If you happen across something you think is suspect, keep an eye on it and those involved with the item’s promotion. It’s pretty clear that uSocial has a network of ninjas into the hundreds.

Parting Shots

uSocial.net also touts their incredible charity program saying that they want to have a positive impact on the world they’re polluting. Awesome. It’s time to use their own words against them. “..thank you for supporting us and in turn, supporting a positive change in this world. Do your part — help us make a change!”

Help me make a change here. Let’s rid quality sites and communities of these slimy characters.

30 thoughts on “Protect Digg, StumbleUpon & Propeller from uSocial.net’s Spammers

  1. I have noticed my stumbleupon getting besieged with spam sites that I have absolutely no interest in. There should be some type of forum to post violating sites to, encouraging users to go out of their way to thumbs down them.

  2. “Why can’t they just say with no degree of uncertainty – that they’re spamming the shit out of social networks, polluting the user communities and gaming what is shown as the most popular stories?” — F!@#ing perfect! Sorry, you can delete the profanity if you want (or spell it for me!) if you do not like it.

    I am with you on this one, very well written. I am now reader number 14! And definitely worth a stumble, digg and reddit.

    If you don’t mind I am going to write a blog about this and track back to you. I think we should try and spread the word by Dec. 1st..

  3. I don’t get it. If they’re being so blatantly obvious about spamming Digg, wouldn’t this get their service automatically banned? I guess they can freelance out Digging to contract workers, but this seems like one of those black hat tactics that will be short-lived if Digg can figure out a way to pinpoint the service being the source. They’re almost daring Digg to do this.

  4. Thank you for this post. I read the whole thing and totally agree. Will be looking out for them and NOT digg, stumble or whatever for them. I did Digg and Stumble this for you though.

    Thanx again!!

  5. Wow, those FAQs are hilarious. Although, you do realize, that blogging about this service even if it’s negative is still marketing them, right? I heard once that you tell 11 – 15 people about negative experiences and 1 – 2 people about positive ones.

  6. I use social bookmarking sites to market the website that I webmaster. I do it the way everyone else does and I can take pride in having a story do well based on its merits. This is a huge concern because for a little while the internet had a voice that found a home in these communities. Anyway, for great science and technology news videos check out: http://www.sciencentral.com/video/

  7. Uh, oh. Looks like just another way for people to game the system. And, the prices that they are charging for this “service” are extraordinary. I can see a lot of companies jumping in, however, just to gain a little bit of an extra edge in the traffic wars.

  8. I can understand how a lot of you people here can be angry about what usocial is doing, though I think they’re really providing a great service to the marketing community. To be honest, I can see a LOT of businesses taking advantage of this. Look at it this way: I work in a reasonably-sized law firm and our marketing department spends thousands of dollars per week in advertising online and we get maybe 5,000-10,000 visitors. If the figures on this site are right, our company could pay a lot less, and get a lot more visitors. In my honest opinion I think it’s a little deceptive, though I also think it will be a phenomenal tool for those who use it.

  9. Dane Fox…

    You forget one important thing – the thousands of dollars per week you spend to acquire maybe 5,000 – 10,000 visitors (which sounds like a damn bargain to me)…. will – if you’re doing things right – keep you in MUCH better shape than buying USocial traffic. Traffic from Digg and the like is essentially worthless for the vast majority of sites. Sure, if you have a ‘top ten list’ site, or a college site, or a joke site, or nude women site… maybe you’re okay. But a lawfirm? You’ll get 100,000 visitors and virtually NONE OF THEM WILL EVER RETURN.

    IMO, for 99% of people, this type of traffic is essentially worthless. In your case, I can pretty much guarantee that it is.

  10. Way to go to stop these guys in their tracks Eric. The only thing that concerns me is that while these guys do stick out like a sore thumb, they were simply aiming to aggregate the existing social media gaming services that are scattered around the net. Mind you, I’ve come across SEO firms that even you would deem ‘reputable’ that claim to have ‘social media power account’s that aid their success in SMM. There is a lot of hypocrisy in our own industry, where companies (again reputatble ones) claim they follow the ‘no paid links, no low quality links, no social media gaming’ mantra, but don’t follow a word of what they preach.

  11. I agree with all the points you’ve listed about how quality social news sites risk losing their quality when firms such as Usocial manipulate votes by sending paid diggs/thumbs up on sites. It’s a problem that threaten the quality that users expect.

    Hundreds of thousands of hits don’t mean a thing if they don’t convert. A successful Internet marketer ought to know that. Personally, I’d rather have 1000 truly interested visitors who enjoy the content, rather than 100,000 who simply bounce back and cognitively associate your Web site with junk.

    The best part is, a content producer can land the front page of Digg by simply providing good content that people love. No science, no hacks, no exploits about it. Oh, and it’s free.

    I’m proud to say that my company, Infusionsoft, the leader in marketing automation software, does not employ these unethical tactics. No one should and I’m glad that you raised this point.

    ~Joe

    ~Joe

  12. Well done man,

    Although we ALL want to grow our followers and audience, not all of us want to do it through unethical means. I want a good honest audience growth that comes to me becuase I have something of value for them to read..

    Although I’m in favour of advertising, I hate this blatent cheating that only serves to ruin the entire system…

  13. I heard this business advertised on the radio and I thought what a terrible thing to do. So, you tell everyone you are basically spamming the sites. And in your disclaimer you say that your clients may get hit with a ban for using your services? Not great marketing there.

    And have you noticed on their own blog their posts have been tweeted like only four or five times? I am surprised they haven’t used their own service to flog their own site… Or maybe they are worried that THEIR site may be hit with a ban…

    I don’t bother reading spam emails, why would I bother reading spam articles on digg or through twitter?

    Let’s just all ignore them, and hopefully they will go broke.

  14. We used Usocial.net for their Twitter Followers service and our experience was not good. They promised that our campaign would be targetted, however all they seemed to be interested in was gaining followers of any kind. Despite numerous emails to them on this subject they did not respond to any, however they were great at responding to other emails when order taking!

  15. Ok everyone … I got Owned by uSocial!!

    This email is to tell everyone to stay away from these thieves. I bought their PR distribution package over a month ago and not a damn article got distributed and none of my emails were answered. After one furious email I wrote to Serena Adamson saying I may take them to court, she magically replied back to me saying they had email problems!

    Now it is almost two months and I spend some decent dough for my PR distribution and not a single work has been done, and no refund. Guys please stay away from this pathetic excuse of a company.

    Let us keeo posting here, so we topple them in the search results and let people not use their services.

    Thanks all

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