For our client: We only used a smaller quantity of very high-quality link building each month. So, for example we only built 40 of the best links each month to supplement the work we were doing on the content marketing front. We also invested heavily into tracking competitor backlink profiles, using Majestic SEO and Open Site Explorer. We worked out how the competitor's acquired specific backlinks, then by using outreach and content creation we obtained these links.
Now, it is not that these sites are not interested in Google users. In fact, they have hired us to help them increase their share. However, they are getting so much traffic from sites like Facebook that it seems there is less urgency about attracting this traffic and less willingness to change the site to meet organic standards. Not long ago, sites would urgently and unquestioningly abide by Google’s standards to court that traffic.