It was only a matter of time. According to numerous articles on the web – you can now buy Google +1′s. For as low as 19.99 – but wait, there’s more!

For years we have been inundated with tweets and offers that guarantee you hundreds, nay, thousands of followers and friends. For a few pieces of silver you can be popular.

Is that really the goal of Social Media. He who dies with the most toys (or friends or followers) – wins?

No – the object of Social Media is quality over quantity. You want friends and followers who actually have some level of vested interest in what you stand for or what you offer.

The goal is to incite some level of emotion – be it passion or passing interest. You want people to care about what you have to say. Then, they will tell their friends, and so on, and so on…

Once you have established that bond you engender a level of loyalty that is hard to break-as long as you continue to deliver on promises and expectations.

This is not something money can buy.

Build your base the old-fashioned way – one person at a time. Tear a page out of the politician’s handbook – shake hands, kiss babies, eat rubber pancakes. Lyndon Johnson once said that every hand he shook got him 250 votes. While his math cannot be proven – especially with 1964 technology – the sentiment is solid. Make an impression on someone – be it positive or negative – and they will likely share it. Or, at the very least – they will remember you.

That is how you build a following. Be authentic. Be genuine. Have something to offer.

It takes time and effort to build a solid base in Social Media. A base that will respond to your messages and take advantage of your offers. In the end, the goal of Social Media for any business or non-profit is to make money. Without opening the whole “social ROI” can of worms – you are still looking for people to buy or donate. If this does not require people to care about who you are – they must, at the minimum, have an interest is what you can do for them. Social Media helps nurture that interest.

Buying friends in Social Media is akin to staging a model home. It looks nice but it is still just a house with furniture – not a home. Fake friends may fool some people into joining the “expectant crowd” but it is ultimately empty calories.

As a marketing platform Social Media has a different balance than traditional venues like print, direct mail, TV, radio, etc. Those focus on specific campaigns that have a beginning, middle and end. They are designed to achieve a specific outcome. Social Media has a beginning and a never-ending middle. You don’t turn off your Facebook page or Twitter account at the end of a cycle. Your goal is to develop relationships that will endure and contribute to top-of-mind awareness.

Can you really buy that kind of loyalty?


Steve Allan, Social Media Specialist, SMThree