Let’s get something clear: any platform that allows for people to create thousands of fake profiles so others can buy likes, followers, retweets, or shares is toxic to advertisers and brands alike.
Now, I social media campaign understand that the word “allows” is doing a lot of work in that sentence, so let me expand a bit what I mean.
I don’t think I’ll get many arguments when I say that -regardless of what I think of them- the most successful social media platforms on the planet are also some of the most sophisticated technological enterprises on the planet. They have -arguably- some of the best AI around, as their entire business models revolve around being able to crunch numbers, facts, and obscure pieces of data millions of times a second.
They are also massive corporations, with an army of lawyers and IP bulldogs waiting to protect their brand against any hostile outside forces.
So explain to me, how is it, that even after all we have seen in the news people can still buy Facebook likes, or Twitter followers, or Instagram fans?
The reason: it was always a scam. And we got conned along with everyone else.
If your company is valued on your number of users and the activity of those users on your platform, what do you care if they are fake or not? If you did, you’d hire an armada of auditors to ensure the integrity of your userbase. I don’t believe they ever did and will never do this.
Social platforms deploy their honey trap.
Initially, social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter lured brands and companies onto their platforms with promises of free marketing and advertising. The ability to quickly grow a fanbase and follower base, without the need of hiring marketing shmucks like me. Why waste time on hiring a professional when you can do it all yourself for nothing?
At first, I was a supporter of this. I believed that marketing and advertising was often something that only larger companies could afford, and that small business marketing was being left behind. Social media marketing allowed for even a mom and pop shop to compete online.
So many businesses spent countless hours and thousands of dollars in human resources to grow their followers online.
Having lured them into their honey trap, social media companies then held followers and fans hostages. You had to pay to have access to the userbase that you built up and cultivated.
Suddenly the numbers didn’t make any sense. You had to pay to promote or boost posts when previously it was free. The result was disastrous for many businesses. The ROI’s didn’t add up, but with so many of their customers on these platforms, they had little choice but to continue to try and get whatever value they could for them.
Moreover, the move to such promotions opened up the Pandora’s box to further abuses. The drive for revenue seemingly caused social platforms to continue to look the other way on fake profiles and social media bots because they drove ad sales. Personal data was harvested and manipulated in ways that users could not fathom and did not agree to.