A recent AdAge article reports that the online ad firm uSocial is offering to boost the number of a company’s Facebook friends for 7.6 cents per friend ($654.30), or its Facebook “fans” for a mere 8.5 cents a fan.
Okay. Sounds good. In fact, too good to be true. And it is. Why? Here are three reasons uSocial is a bad idea.
1. The uSocial model completely undermines the basic premise of social media marketing
For social media marketers, what makes social media friends (or followers) such a powerful marketing tool is that they comprise a group of people who have something in common and who will spontaneously share information. uSocial’s methodology is secret, but according their Web site, they draw on their 18,000 Twitter followers to add people to your Twitter account. So the only thing the bought community has in common is that they are following or fans of uSocial. Thus, the quality of friends bought by a company is very low. The group lacks the connectivity and common interests characteristic of natural communities.
2. uSocial encourages marketers to play a numbers game
Some marketers think that social media is just about numbers. They will yield to temptation and sign up for uSocial. At first, they will be pleased that they have a large group of friends or numerous followers. But the high will not last. The “Friends” they have just bought will not have the commitment and interest of a natural group, so activity will not be authentic. Other users will see through this, and the effort will fall flat.
3. uSocial’s approach will not work for companies who want to build genuine, authentic communities
In the long run, the marketer will see this approach does not work if they want to realize value from genuinely interested users. It might work for some companies, such as those that rely on spam and similar underhand methods, but I would not recommend this approach to clients. Much better is to focus on the job of building an authentic community. It’s harder, but ultimately more rewarding.