I’ve read a lot of blog posts and articles recently on fakery in social media. And, as the two-year anniversary of the WagnerWrites Facebook page approaches, I’ve been thinking about how much effort it takes to build a following. That must be why people are willing to pay for shortcuts.
The San Jose Mercury News recently republished a New York Times article entitled “Buy Your Way to Twitter Fame.” According to the article, it’s easy and cheap to do this. The author listed a number of sites and some prices as low as $5. And the practice is not limited to “ego-driven blogger types. Celebrities, politicians, startups, aspiring rock stars, reality show hopefuls — anyone who might benefit from having a larger social media footprint — are known to have bought large blocks of Twitter followers.”
Notice the “ego-driven blogger types.” This is significant, because many of them are considered social media experts and make their living teaching the rest of us how to be successful in social media. Ahem! I can suggest a couple of blogs to follow if you’d like to dive deeper into false images and false claims by social media experts:
Care2 is “a 20 million-member-strong online social action network, optimized to be a tool for nonprofit organizations like yours.” Yes, their members are “a tool.” Care2 sells access to their network so that nonprofits can “recruit new donors, members, and advocacy supporters.” One of their services is targeted to Facebook page likes:
Your organization decides how many new ‘Likes’ you want — up to 100,000! Care2‘s experts do all the work creating and promoting your campaign. We target our own fans and reach out to their friends and other cause-minded folks on Facebook, and we promote with specific placements across the Care2.com network of sites (which can include featured blogs, daily actions, display ads, and more), all increasing your organization’s visibility while rapidly building your fan base.
I’m sure all of this is done legitimately, but what is a “like” really worth? Facebook is making it difficult for status updates from pages to appear in the news feeds of people who liked the page. So a lot of content generated by pages just disappears into cyberspace. But, to play devil’s advocate, some people say that there is “magic” that happens after a nonprofit page reaches 5,000 fans. Read more about this magic number from the well-respected blog at nonprofitorgs.com. Of course, nonprofits better have good strategies for turning Facebook fans into long-term donors, volunteers, and other kinds of active supporters. That’s the real ROI, right?
I also noticed that “featured blogs” is in the list of Care2’s paid placements. Care2 has a decent blog with insights from knowledgeable contributors. In fact, an excellent post on measuring social media influence drew me to their site, and then I noticed their ad for buying Facebook likes. But now I have to wonder how and when the blog is being promotional.
I’ve been an administrator for five very different Facebook pages. Three are moderately successful and two have been essentially abandoned by their owners. (I was a contributor but not the owner of those two.) I put a lot of sweat equity into four of the five pages and relied entirely on organic growth driven by good content and good community management. But it’s been slow, hard work. I’m still thinking and reading constantly about how to get the best return from social media efforts, so look for more ideas and information in future posts.