Likes and Recommendations – Real, or Illusions?

October 8, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                       return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Open trenchcoat with Wanna Buy a Like sign insideWhile doing research last week to compile data for a new client’s media evaluation, I came across one of his industry competitors’ Facebook pages.  What I saw made me sit back and shake my head.  It was fairly new, having been launched about six months ago.  The first month boasted five new followers.  The second month:  23,740 new followers.  WOW!  This business must have a rocket propelled marketing department, right?  I HAD to look at the page’s activity.  There was no interaction at all; just a smattering of posts here and there about services the business offered.  Seriously; do subscribers to practices like this think we are that naïve, or are they hoping we won’t scroll far enough down their pages to see how all those likes came in one giant lump during the pages’ second month of existence?

I’m not condemning anyone personally for buying likes or followers. I’m just saying that doing so is not as covert as he/she would hope.  And considering the bulk of these bought numbers consist of phony accounts as well as disinterested people who will never engage with the page, the practice cheats him/her of business credibility.  Engagement and genuinely valuable activity define the success of a company’s social media sites, not a suddenly huge number of “fans” or “followers.”  Instead of the anticipated boost, this practice serves to negatively flag a social site; it also illustrates wasted money, since Facebook and Twitter have begun cracking down by purging phony likes and follows.

Another faux strategy has emerged recently: buying positive recommendations.  This practice evolved from do-it-yourselfers who compelled others in their employ to write glowing reviews for them.  Many of these are easily spotted for what they are, especially when they are exaggeratedly fawning.  There is actually a question of legality here, as the law requires disclosure of the circumstances behind a recommendation that is motivated by anything other than true satisfactory personal experience with a business, its product or service.

It is tough to launch a social media business.  How do we gain our footing among thousands of peers who already have established pages with huge numbers of valid fans and followers?  The temptation is great to buy ourselves an illusion of competitiveness, even temporarily while we work frantically to build our businesses legitimately.  Although we don’t like to acknowledge it, the reality is that slowly and steadily playing by the rules is the only true avenue to solid social relationships, credible business standings, and ultimately success in our fields.  The reality is also that having a couple of hundred likes who are actively engaged with us on our pages trumps thousands of silent likes.  That’s a metric that can’t be hidden; one needs only scroll down a business page to see the level and quality of activity – or lack of it.

person hawking bought likes is vanquishedPatience truly is a virtue here.  When we realize the only thing that separates our new launches from our successfully established peers is length of time investment, we may be less inclined to take shortcuts that will undoubtedly backfire with negative consequences.  At that point we should realize that taking the time to do things legitimately and correctly is the more direct route to our own successes.

What is your take on the practice of buying fans, followers and positive reviews? How do you handle new clients who want to see giant numbers of fans and followers instantly appear on their social media sites?  Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

See also:
Davey Winder:  “Why Buying Social Media Reviews is a Recipe for Marketing Disaster
Mallie Hart:  “ Say No to Shortcuts

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