Facebook: Money for Nothin’ and Fans for Free


I just got pitched by a company that will give me 1,000 Facebook fans in exchange for a post on this site. They do it for others, why would I not want them to do it for me, right? Given that the real estate on Conversation Agent is taken up mostly by me, I must say they have extremely good taste — even if misplaced. You and I have a relationship based on value.

The question is not if a post is worth 1,000 fans. There is no ad equivalency on people. Trust and credibility are not something you trade. We have countless airline mileage programs that already tell us what we need to know: loyalty cannot be bought. On the other hand, if you have a really good product, or a service people rave about — something that helps them — you have preference.

For another example, look no further that World Cup fans. There are countries that literally shut down when their teams are playing. Want to ask them how much for changing teams? Talk about brand loyalty. Football teams have had clubs of loyal fans for ages — yes, even before Facebook.

There's been a bit of a discussion lately about the value of a Facebook fan. There is eagerness to jump on board with numbers — making $136 per fan assumptions. Correlation and causality are indeed suspect in the Syncapse study.

We need to spend more time learning from brands that have true fans and are unlocking that value. It likely means understanding how they optimize their products, services, and customer experience with superior performance. That's what should be captured in the value of a fan.

The true value of a fan is a customer. As for that pitch, I say they think Facebook is money for nothin' and fans for free.

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0 responses to “Facebook: Money for Nothin’ and Fans for Free”

  1. Hey there Valeria,
    Yep, got hit by the same company. Their pitch included the companies they’d already “helped”, including Inside Edition news channel.
    My response? No thanks, I prefer to build organically and with folks that’d actually be interested and find any information I share relevant.
    Seemingly they offer the same service for Facebook and YouTube. As Adam says, social spammers. Guess there’s always that chance when there’s money to be made from folks looking for a fast fix.

  2. My favorite questions to ask users: What businesses do you love to talk to your friends about? Who do you champion? Why?
    The answers speak volumes about creating true fans, not social media “followers”.
    ConversationAgent is moving up on my list of RSS feeds because of spot-on posts like this!

  3. If what they offered what somehow relevant, beneficial, etc to your readers, it might be understandable to accept, but the feeling I get reading this is that, if they’re offering 1,000 fans who probably are not true fans of you, they’re also going to post something that you readership will not find valuable and in line with what you offer.
    With airline, hotel, etc loyalty programs, we occasionally give them permission to bring us something new because we trust that they will not abuse our permission by trying to make a quick buck and selling us the thing that brings them the most money today as opposed to the thing that brings us the most relevancy.
    I agree with, Danny. Good on you for going the way of sticking with what’s most relevant for your readers.

  4. A very thoughtful post and good comments.
    This seems to me to be a dangerous path. People become fans for a variety of reasons. In theory and best practice, they choose to connect and converse with a brand. There is a genuine relationship established.
    If fans are traded or sold, for whatever reason, without the permission of the person, there is no authenticity or true relationship created in my view.

  5. This is starting to feel like the beginnings of an epic battle. The increasing presence of marketing tactics aimed at pimping the system compromise the value that many of us are trying to derive from the social interaction on the internet. Ultimately for many of us social media is personal with an emphasis on cultivating relationships and accessing the content that is most relevant for whatever aims we have at the time. I find the increasing commercialization of the social media space a growing force that is somewhat troubling, because it aims to convert the internet into a space that serves commercial ends.

  6. Isn’t the bigger issue whether you want to turn your blog into an advertorial? Because once you do that you lose your credibility and trade the true fans you have developed for 1,000 potentially uninterested fans who may “hide” you as soon as your first post hits their News Feed.
    I suspect there are blogs that are admittedly advertorials and they might be happy to be paid in fans rather than cash, products or services.
    But you’ve established yourself as a thought leader and your brand is your independent thought and integrity. It’s good to know that it doesn’t have a price tag.

  7. It is really bad to see offers like this coming to light. I read those fan values and don’t think that it is all that valid. Sure these mega-brands can see that uptick, but what about Joe’s Barbershop up the street. Sure he cuts a mean fade, but does that equate to $136? Probably not.
    The key thing for brands to look into now is the engagement of fan communities. Sure it is great to have a zillion fans, but if only one is active and looking at the offers or data that you are sharing is there any value?
    We’ve looked into our company’s fans and it is not solely based on dollars and cents, but rather binging in the overall value to the brand.

  8. @Adam – that’s the other part of it, not feeling that special when they’d go with one and all; and by now, we all know that.
    @Danny – the short cut ends up being the high road in life. It’s not fun otherwise, what can you say you accomplished, when it was all arranged for you? Never mind authenticity, is that a brand of scotch?
    @Lateef – thank you. Glad to be helpful in surfacing issues that resonate. The answers to why and who I find especially telling.
    @Ann Marie – there are always short cuts, and those willing to take them. I’m on the same page with you on growing organically. This blog is almost 4 years old, and I’m still not taking any of it for granted.
    @Eric – I get offers for “guest” posts from publicists of authors I never heard of, and other assorted thought leaders weekly. The pitch it’s usually, hey, we have this inventory (post, tips, abstract) and would like to publish it on your blog. Who knows, maybe they consider the offer of gaining 1,000 fans on a different network integrated marketing? Stranger things have happened. I just don’t see a fit. Without a relationship, I have a hard time promising credibility, and that is hard for me to compromise with people who take precious time to read this blog.
    @Peter – people end up having a price, after all. The question is always, do you want to be that kind of person/company, and does that nourish your business or just inflate it with junk numbers? They make for great cocktail conversations.
    @Schiffon – commerce is not a bad word, I’m in favor of people earning for putting in an honest day’s work. I expect many more to start monetizing their blogs, building paid walls and communities after climbing in numbers on networks. All that oppose commerce and being marketed at can show their position by supporting those who don’t do that. It is rarely done. Because people follow the crowd and popular is usually well marketed πŸ˜‰
    @Lisa – people also trade favors for popularity. We’re familiar with terms like brown-nosing, sucking up, etc. for a reason. In this case there was a specific offer on the table, one made to a number of bloggers — cast a wide net, get one or two to say yes, point others to how their peeps have done it, etc. human nature follows. If it didn’t work, there wouldn’t be so many doing it. On the other hand, to me there are some things that are just not worth it, no matter what.
    @Jeff – these are yet early days in all of this stuff. There’s a push to be noticed and getting good at sharing data as if it were facts, analyzing one thing and extrapolating a trend from it is a way to do that. I doubt any of us likes to be called “average” πŸ™‚

  9. I’d allow a guest post on my little corner of the web in exchange for 1,000 Facebook fans, but those fans would have to be local and willing to help me move these refrigerators, to help me move these color TVs (in 110*+ Phoenix heat, no less).
    As usual, the conversation in the comments here is popping. If I might borrow from your play book, Valeria…
    @Danny – That’s how I want to roll. Organic, with real people with just as broad and diverse (read: random and unfocused) opinions as I have.
    @Lateef – In the interest of keeping this comment on the short side, I’ll just say “Mitsubishi” and suggest you take a peek over at Olivier’s “The Brand Builder” blog for a recent post on the subject of helping brands you believe in. I think you’d really dig the post (and come across the longest comment I’ve ever posted anywhere).
    @Ann Marie – This is my confusion about the whole scene. My life is better because I’ve met so many incredible people through platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and forums over the years, yet the fast attempts at commercialization leave a bad taste in my mouth. Fortunately, I can still not-follow/ignore/hide/block/forcibly-block much of the one-way static.
    @Schiffon – Pimping. I love it.
    Whether innocent misunderstanding of how things really work socially or calculated shenanigans playing the odds in pursuit of easy wins, I hope this sort of tactic ends up dying on the vine.
    Let’s show people how things should be done and help others take up the charge at our side. The more of us focus on doing right for our brothers and sisters on this rapidly shrinking blue marble, the fewer opportunities will remain for such blind pot shots.

  10. Great. Now I have that song stuck in my head.
    At least it’s a good one. πŸ™‚
    That company might be more honest in telling you they’ll supply 1,000 extremely fickle fans. On the other hand, anyone touting such a deal isn’t likely to appreciate concepts such as “honesty”.
    I wonder where the money is? That’s the only reason people like that are “altruistic” […] – they think they’re smarter than everyone else, and believe they’ve figured out where the money is.
    Happy 4th! πŸ™‚

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