The Most Important Decision A Marketer Can Make

If you’ve checked your email inbox recently, then you know that you have a really important decision to make. After all, we marketers don’t have unlimited budgets and resources, do we? Nope. So you’re going to have to decide. Do you invest in:

  1. Viagra.
  2. Enhancing the size of your, um, asset[s].
  3. Boosting your Twitter follower count.

[Oddly,  I think there’s an underlying connection between all three options, but let’s not go there. For now.]

This decision just become even harder to make.

According to Advertising Age, uSocial — which will get you 1,000 Twitter followers for just $87 — is now offering to hook you up with 5,000 Facebook “friends” for $654 (7.6 cents/friend), or up to 10,000 Facebook “fans” for $1,167 (8.5 cents/fan). Apparently, this is a really good deal because, according to uSocial,  “since each Facebook friend or fan is worth $1 per month, buyers will make back their investment many times over in the first month.”

I’m sure that uSocial can back up this claim, unlike the folks who ran the Enzyte male enhancement commercials, who admitted that — gasp! — “the company made up much of the content that appeared in Enzyte ads.”

But it’s not the [potentially] bogus claim that bothers me. Because let’s face it: These offers wouldn’t exist if demand for them didn’t exist.

Here’s why this bugs me: Joe Pine and James Gilmore wrote a great book back in 2007 called Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want. Time magazine even said in 2008 that authenticity was one of the 10 ideas changing the world.

What kind of marketer pays for followers or fans to boost their follower or fan count? Not an authentic marketer, that’s for sure. I mean, how “authentic” could you possibly be if you’re willing to cut corners and buy followers and fans?

One of my favorite examples of this lack of authenticity is Washington Mutual (Wamu). A few years back, Wamu beat its chest in press releases that within 48 hours of launching a Facebook page that it had a couple of hundred followers (or fans or friends, whatever, I don’t know what you call them).

At the time, I snooped around and found that at least three-quarters of those followers were affiliated in one way or another with the ad agency that did the design work for the bank’s Facebook page. The irony is that not only were these fans not worth $1 per month each to the bank, but in essence, as a vendor to the bank, they cost the bank money.

So, dear marketers, you have an important decision to make. What will I do? I’m not sure, but I’m pretty sure that I’ve ruled out option #3.