Forget Real Friends, Just Fake It

If someone “likes” your brand on Facebook, or gives your website or blog posting a “thumbs-up,” is that a meaningful metric as a marketer? If your Twitter followers keep increasing, does that mean you’re publishing valuable content and helping position yourself as an industry thought leader? I used to think so, but I was disappointed to learn how disingenuous the entire process has become.

If someone “likes” your brand on Facebook, or gives your website or blog posting a “thumbs-up,” is that a meaningful metric as a marketer? If your Twitter followers keep increasing, does that mean you’re publishing valuable content and helping position yourself as an industry thought leader? I used to think so, but I was disappointed to learn how disingenuous the entire process has become.

In pre-Facebook days, if we liked a brand/product/service, we would talk positively about our experiences. We’d gladly refer colleagues when asked, or write an email or letter praising the organization. If we were truly brand ambassadors, we’d proudly pontificate and evangelize at the drop of a hat.

With the creation of the digital “thumbs-up,” a click of the mouse records your endorsement or disagreement in a split second. And, as marketers, we greedily record and compare those statistics as a justification for the impact that our brand might be having on the target market.

Every time I post a tweet, I can’t help but glance at my increasing “follower” statistics and wonder what 140-character pithy remark prompted them to start following me. It also adds a bit of pressure to make sure I keep my followers interested and engaged with my marketing insights.

But on several occasions, when scanning a discussion group on LinkedIn, someone has created the challenge: “Like me/our company on Facebook and I’ll like yours!” My reaction is swift and from the gut… “Like you? I don’t even KNOW you.”

Perhaps I’m naive, but I was under the impression that if your brand provided quality products and services that were deemed useful to your target audience, or you posted information that was helpful/funny/smart, then your reader/user gave you the good old “thumbs up” as a reflection of their approval. So imagine my surprise when I found a site where you can buy Facebook “likes” or Twitter followers!

For a few bucks you can add hundreds or thousands of “likes” to your page, or increase your Twitter followers instantly … all with the goal of seemingly increasing your brand popularity and, in turn, helping your site move up in rankings and search results.

Who thinks up this stuff?

Clearly an entrepreneur who has figured out that anything worth having is a business just waiting to happen—even if it means that what you’re selling is a tool to help companies scam potential customers.

And what about those companies that purchase “likes” or Twitter followers? Perhaps if they spent more time and money on running honest and helpful businesses that customers truly liked and felt good about, they wouldn’t have a need to purchase fake “friends” to boost their fake popularity.

I know how hard it is to build and sustain a business in a world filled with ruthless competitors. But I can promise that your business won’t get ahead by faking friends.

Author: Carolyn Goodman

A blog that challenges B-to-B marketers to learn, share, question, and focus on getting it right—the first time. Carolyn Goodman is President/Creative Director of Goodman Marketing Partners. An award-winning creative director, writer and in-demand speaker, Carolyn has spent her 30-year career helping both B-to-B and B-to-C clients cut through business challenges in order to deliver strategically sound, creatively brilliant marketing solutions that deliver on program objectives. To keep her mind sharp, Carolyn can be found most evenings in the boxing ring, practicing various combinations. You can find her at the Goodman Marketing website, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @CarolynGoodman.

8 thoughts on “Forget Real Friends, Just Fake It”

  1. It’s taken me since 2009 to build over 5400 followers on Twitter (not the account that is posting this message), one tweet at a time. I check out each new follower and make the following decision: follow, ignore, block, or report for spam. With all the porn follower bots out there, I don’t want my profile cluttered with meaningless junk or anything that would cast a negative or questionable light on my reputation. Reputations are built one tweet, one follow, and one follower at a time. I intend to continue the same way with the account I posted this from. Great content, Carolyn! Thx. Susan

  2. Being new to social media, I recently "purchased" 500 likes on Facebook. Now, my thinking behind this is that when people come to my site, they will see more followers, and that will give it "credibility:" So… here is what I found out. For $35 you can get new followers, but they don’t stay (2 days later over 300 of them unliked my page). However, I now have over 800 followers. I have seen more interactions, likes, posts on my page now that I have more followers. I am now posting about 7-10 times per week on my Facebook page, a mixture of testimonials, other industry related information, and promotional information. I don’t think I would buy followers again, but I think this instigated my desire to be more active on my page, by having others become more active. It gave me a jump start.

  3. @Carolyn Great topic. For me, transparency and integrity are key. I am also concerned about all of the "automated" marketing taking place that builds an artificial relationship or engagement with prospects and customers.

    I want to be able to develop a mutually beneficial relationship with a company.

    There’s a company, Progressive Business Publications, that uses what I consider to be unethical business practices and I would hope that social media can get them to stop. They give marketing a bad reputation.

  4. I feel guilty. I gave you a thumbs up, but I really did like your article. I have considered writing a similar article on how Google’s ranking criteria are missing the mark because they are giving too much credibility to social media.

    Thanks for your thoughtful article.

  5. Carolyn – Good for you! This digitally-driven superficial world of algorithim obsessed manipulators lacks integrity and true character. Keep it real, keep it pure and build a business empire on meaningful content and real relationships!

  6. I am just starting out in the online world of magazines and your article has opened up my eyes to the possibility that quantity is not always quality (an overlooked well-known phrase that my father keeps pushing into me), But, no longer will I be looking at some of the more relatively unknown companies and wonder why they have 150,000 likes and my friends and I have never heard of them before!

  7. Hmm.. well Carolyn I liked your post.. I agree to your point. Even if we create a fake account, it should be maintained well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *