I have recently read up on the US News & World Report college rankings, and to what great lengths some colleges go to manipulate the results and improve their rankings. Rankings are very powerful because they are a signal of social acceptance and appear unbiased. Every important ranking system that displays results to those being ranked ends up influencing those it measures.
From a marketer's perspective the idea of the authority system influencing the network has 4 big marketing ideas contained inside it:
- The Ranker is God: If you are one of the first to create a ranking system and spread it quickly then it will be hard for others to compete with you. Some of those who rank well will lend their brand credibility and reach to help push and validate your rankings.
- God is Not Fair: If a ranking system is unjust and you are one of the most vocal opponents of it then you can quickly gain a lot of authority and exposure.
- Everyone Spams God: Even if people say they do not support spamming, that is probably public relations spin to help push their brand. See the prior two points for how that works.
- God Changes Her Mind: If you watch how the various parties play off of each other that should lend key insights into how the authority systems will change going forward, which keep you ahead of the competition. For example, how will Google's acquisition of Feedburner change how they measure blogs, or how does the Chicago Tribune's freelance blog network effect Google's heavy reliance on domain authority score (and trust of links from authoritative sites)?
What is considered good marketing offline is often referred to as spam online. If anyone finds the classification as being a spammer offensive or inaccurate, don't forget that Google recently recommended health care companies spam the public, by plastering ads all over the web:
Whatever the problem, Google can act as a platform for educating the public and promoting your message.
It is only considered spam if Google isn't getting a cut of the profit.
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