Friends for Sale: Need 100,000 More Friends? That Will Cost You $3479
Parents continue to be the darlings of the social media
world, not because everyone necessarily hangs on our every kid-related word,
but because we represent a powerful demographic. We're big spenders, at least
when it comes to our kids.
Where there is money, there are advertisers. And where there are advertisers, there is competition for those advertising dollars. It's a simple fact of marketing life. Right now, competition is heating up in the world of social media, as everyone tries to figure out how to make money on the hottest virtual playground for Canadian parents: Twitter.
The problem is that the rules of the social media marketing game are still be written, with less savvy players trying to apply the rules of old school marketing -- rules that simply don't fit.
That's what's happening on Twitter these days -- a social media platform that's much loved by Canadian parents and those who wish to connect with them.
Here's an example of that then vs. now push-and-pull playing out in real time.
On Monday, May 3, Megan McChesney, Editor and Senior Web Producer of CanadianFamily.ca, sent out the following tweet on @CanadianFamily -- the Twitter account associated with St. Joseph Media's Canadian Family magazine:
The feedback from the account's followers (people who receive messages from the @CanadianFamily account) was immediate and straight to the point:
What the followers were confirming for McChesney was this: money can't buy you love on Twitter.
Old school, meet social media
While you might not consider buying friends in the real world, individuals or organizations attempting to woo potential advertisers with impressive audience numbers might be tempted to go to extreme measures to boost their Twitter follower numbers: even paying cash-for-followers services to buy online friends. Anyone choosing to go this route can easily find businesses willing to swap followers for dollars. (uSocial.net will sell you 100,000 followers for $3479 US or you can purchase smaller batches of followers via eBay.)
At this point most advertisers don't place sufficient value on audience engagement or the content provided in gauging the success of a social media campaign, says McChesney. "The current game is all about the numbers."
It's a case of old school marketing meets social media marketing, says Dave Fleet, Account Director and head of the social media practice at Thornley Fallis Communications in Toronto. "Companies are used to being able to buy attention....Social media doesn't work that way. It requires a long-term investment,"
Artificially padding follower numbers by buying Twitter followers "defeats the entire purpose" of social media, says McChesney. "You're diluting your own community and cheapening the experience for your followers."
CP24 web/technology specialist Amber MacArthur agrees wholeheartedly with McChesney's assessment. "Don't buy followers," she advises companies who are being lured by the call of the social media siren. "It will come back to bite you on the butt.
"Would you pay someone to follow you around at a party?"
Slow and steady, like the turtle
So if you can't go for the quick fix, what should you do?
Take the same approach as you take to building real-world relationships, MacArthur advises: "Build relationships that are portable and real."
That includes not becoming overly dependent on one social media platform, she stresses. Twitter may be hot right now, but it may not be around forever.
As for having an infinite number of virtual one-second-stands with strangers whom you think of as nothing more than numbers?
That's sleazy online or off.
Conduct yourself accordingly, people and corporations.
Friend or Faux Follower? You Be the Judge....
Wondering if someone has been buying followers as opposed to building their following organically over time? Here are a few clues that may help you to decide, according to social media experts Dave Fleet (Account Director and head of the social media practice at Thornley Fallis Communications in Toronto), Amber MacArthur (CP24's Web/Technology Specialist and a new media host/producer, strategist, and speaker), and Megan McChesney (Editor and Senior Web Producer of CanadianFamily.ca).
- * If the account has a high number of followers and a low number of tweets, the account is likely to have purchased followers (unless the account holder is a celebrity or an elite brand), says Fleet.
- * If the tweets are of very poor quality, but the account is being followed by a large number of people, you're probably looking at an account with a lot of faux followers, says McChesney.
- * If the accounts following a particular person all appear to be quite spammy (no real names; no photos; other clues that the account isn't legitimate), they may be following an account that's paid cash for followers, says McChesney. Some companies specialize in "farming" Twitter accounts of dubious quality.
- * You do some research on the account using a service like Klout, which measures authenticity and influence, and the account's rock-bottom score indicates to you that the account holder either isn't engaging with his or her followers at all or that most of those 100,000 followers are faux followers says MacArthur.