As many of you know there are a lot of shady goings ons when it comes the digital world. When it comes to “social media” there’s one practice that can be employed which is particularly troublesome. Not just because of what it stands for (the ethics of the practice) but because it’s just bad business.
Pick your social network and I can guarantee there’s a way to buy likes or followers or circlers or little stars or fuzzy little green obelisks or- well, you get the point. Now, let’s just pretend there’s not an ethical problem with buying these types of social adds even though there absolutely is. The real problem rears it’s ugly head when you want to measure the efficacy of a digital campaign. Here’s an example:
Let’s pretend you run a hat store and you have your website, a Facebook account and a Twitter account for the store. A pretty standard set-up for a brick and mortar these days. Now, let’s say you’ve been posting and tweeting and telling people to come to your website and well, you know, it’s kinda hard to see the benefits of “social media” when you only have your immediate friends and family following you.
So what do you do?
Do you organically build followers by offering content and value to their lives? No, of course not. You go and buy 10,000 likes and 5,000 followers. Awesome, now you’re the image of success and that’s what matters after all. It’s important to note that some people will argue that, “to be taken seriously, you have to have a certain amount of followers.” My response to that is: BS.
Thinking like that is what creates social feeds that are full of crap, which is an all too common occurrence these days. It’s like leasing a car and a house while you’re knee deep in debt. Sure, it looks good from the outside but if you take a closer look, everything is falling apart.
So then, on to the part where buying these adds will completely screw up your digital efforts.
Now you’ve made it. People are finally taking you seriously because you have so many people following you (btw, the chances of this happening are slim to no way jose.) Meanwhile, who knows if you’ve even learned how to properly gauge what your audience wants or enjoys. But that’s not important, right? Making matters worse is when you go to look at your web analytics everything is out of wack. Who knows how many real people are actually following you?
It’s also safe to assume that almost all of your bought adds are essentially useless outside of creating the illusion of success. So now, when you look at your weekly website analytics and see that your website got 300 visits from 279 unique visitors from Twitter and Facebook you crunch the numbers. When you report back and you see that Twitter is driving 79 unique visitors out of 5000 followers and you think to yourself, “That’s awful, Twitter is only bringing 1.58% of all people to my site.” Same thing for Facebook, you have 10,000 likes but only 200 people a week are coming to your website from Facebook. “2% conversion rate. Lame.” The problem is you can’t accurately determine if a channel is effective or not since you really have no idea how many people actually “like” or follow you.
Now, of course you can always factor in your bought adds and likes, but only to a point. After a while all your likes and follows will jumble together, essentially ruining the ability to determine what’s working and what isn’t. Furthermore, you lose the opportunity to learn what your audience actually likes, which is a critically important step in making these incredibly awesome networks work for you. If you’re just blasting out crappy post after crappy post to a legion of fake and disengaged followers, you’re not tapping into the real power of these networks.
And that’s the real lesson when it comes to buying adds. Not only is it bad ethics to buy adds, it royally screws up the very important measurement step, which is a critical point in the whole digital development process.