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Digital Sharecropping– Vast Majority of Online Business is Sharecropping: But More Distressful– They Don’t Even Know It…

You are digital sharecropping and you don’t even know it… You are building your business on someone else’s land. Digital sharecropping means creating content that you publish on sites you don’t own–like; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn… without direct compensation; Just like the sharecroppers of old who tended the land of others and lived at the mercy of large landowners…

Similarly today, many businesses with their social media strategy, which revolves around the websites of other businesses are in a powerless position and at the mercy of large social networks…

According to Kevin Marcoux; most people don’t really understand how much they are actually giving away, and how they are, in fact, devaluing their own– value, creativity, intellectual work… in exchange for free webpage that has practically no cost to the provider… if business people better understood the social media model and dynamics, they would be more enthusiastic and proactive about building their own Internet freehold, where their work, value, intellectual property remains under their control. 

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According to Nicholas Carr, who first originated the term– digital sharecropping; when you visit; Facebook, Twitter, and thousands of social media websites and post your content on their– walls, groups, forums… you are giving away a very valuable part of your intellectual property and getting absolutely nothing in return… they (the websites) and not you, own your content… It’s worth remembering that the business model of Web 2.0 social networks is the sharecropping model.

After the Civil War when the original sharecropping system took hold in the American south, plantation owners made money in two ways: They leased land to the sharecroppers and they also leased them their tools… It’s no different now in the digital age… The payments for land (i.e., web page) and tools (i.e., video, widget…) are not transacted direct through exchanges of cash, but rather indirect through the sale of ‘ads’… but the idea is the same…

So, Who owns what you post on the Internet? If you can’t say; I own my creations… then you’re getting screwed… If anybody should be making money from content you create, even if it’s just ‘ads’ revenue, you should be first in line; not Facebook, not Google… You are the means of production and social media is just the means of distribution… Without your content companies like; Facebook, Google… don’t have anything to distribute and nothing to sell…

In the article Economics of Digital Sharecropping by Nicholas Carr writes: One of Facebook’s crucial financial measures is the ‘average revenue per user’ (ARPU)… Since, Facebook’s content is created by its members, ARPU also provides the monetary value of each member’s labor. If the average Facebook sharecropper were to be paid a share of revenue for his or her work on the site, that member would make a sub-minimal wage– about enough to buy a cup of coffee… Needless to say, that amount is so small that Facebook members would never even think about it... The revenue amounts only become financially interesting when you aggregate them on a massive scale…

Now even though Facebook would very much want ARPU to grow steadily, it probably doesn’t want the number to get so large that it becomes a meaningful amount to its members. If that happened, members might start thinking about the ‘cash value of their labor’ rather than just its ‘attention’ value. The line between these two economies become blurred; by keeping ARPU modest (and focus on scale), Facebook (and others) keep the all-important divide between the ‘attention economy’ (i.e., members see themselves as working) and the ‘cash economy’ (i.e., company reaps the monetary value of the members’ work). The last thing a for-profit social network wants is for its members to start seeing themselves as laborers…

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In the article Who Are You Promoting With Digital Sharecropping? by Jared William writes: Digital sharecropping is what happens when you create content on someone else’s property, i.e.; you do the work; you create content, and the websites keep all of the benefits… These modern-day plantation owners make it easy, e.g.; just click here to sign up, add your name, email address… now you are a sharecropper.

And, that means you have a place on the Internet– you can scream, yell, rant, play, show off your work, join conversations, constantly check your account to keep up with all of the other folks doing the same things: It’s enticing; it’s easy; it’s delusional… If you’re trying to run a business, or build a brand, or otherwise engage an audience… when it’s all said and done, you’re creating content on someone else’s digital land: You’re a digital sharecropper…

But, what happens when your digital landlord changes the rules, or even ceases to be the place that draws a crowd? You are screwed. The simple truth is that social websites are great resources but you must  bring visitors back to your home base– your website– in order to build a sustainable business… You must control the visitor’s entire experience… Social media has its place– interacting with friends and fans on Facebook, Google+, Twitter… these places are like digital watering hole… But sooner rather than later, you must have a site of your of own that’s fully engaged with your visitors, customers…

In the article Digital Sharecropping – Customer or Product? by Marion Jacobson writes: With Internet powerhouses like; Facebook, Google, Foursquare, Instagram, Pinterest, hundreds of others… customers are willingly posting ‘tons’ of content on these sites daily; for free… But, as you might already know, these powerhouse social media firms are in business to create communities, apps… not out of altruistic desire to help their fellow-man; it’s business stupid… They are using your content to make money… and, that’s perfectly fine with most people, in fact, millions and millions of people… Since businesses are rapidly jumping into the social content fray headfirst, it’s a good time to revisit the question; are you the product or the customer that is makes money for someone else?

Are you a digital sharecropper working hard and producing great stuff that’s making someone else rich? If your answer is ‘yes’ or unsure, then you must quickly change mindset: Bring your traffic, your authority, your links… to your own business website, not theirs… post your  company blog on your own domain; don’t use other websites… Leverage the other social media sites to– tweet, post, plus… and share your content as much as you want, but post excerpts that link back to your original post on your site…

If you have a business page on Facebook (and you should),  promote your own content along with other engaging posts, conversations… Just remember that having a ton of original content on Facebook will not help you in the search engine results contest... But, it will help you engage with customers, fans… and a great way to increase brand visibility. But the key issue revolves around– your business being ‘findable’ on Facebook… but, as important, is the protection of your original content– it  belongs to you and it must first appear on your website… Which means that you don’t have to worry about losing content, or other sharecropping issues; if the free online repository has trouble; goes out of business, decides to charge a fee, or changes rules of the game…

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In the article Sharecropping: Sucker’s Game by Scott Baradell writes: Sharecropping goes digital, which is a sucker’s game… Why? For two reasons:

1.) Lack of audience ownership: Just as subsistence farmers of past were stuck on someone else’s land forever; so does a strategy centered on someone else’s website leaves you dependent on that website… But, most important, if you send your audience to another site, such as; Facebook rather than to your own website, then you own nothing…

2.) Lack of predictable outcomes: Since you have no control over another website and you are easy prey for changes that might take money out of your pocket and make your labors fruitless. So what’s the solution? Simple; invest in building your own website with fresh, frequently updated, mostly non-branded content that will attract prospects and other important audiences to your site…

As for– Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Quora, Flickr and the rest… Use them, of course, but for the purpose of– leveraging their audiences to build your own website... It’s equivalent of working on someone else’s land (and, setting aside some of the harvest to build up your reserves), until you have enough resources to create a more lucrative property of your own…

But, in reality; many businesses are putting all their energy and hard work just to build someone else’s business? They are, in effect, tilling soil and helping others grow their business, rather than their own… When a business is dependent on another for livelihood; they are a digital sharecropper… in fact, it’s 21st century version of 19th century sharecropper… Digital sharecropping is not just a recipe for disaster, it’s long-term business suicide…

According to Bryan Del Monte; while individually, content may be trivial but when aggregated that what’s made digital media what it is today– a multi-billion dollar enterprise that has concentrated power in the hands of an oligopoly… In other words, content producers work for free as far as; Facebook, Bing, Google, LinkedIn… see it from their accounting books.

Just look at their terms and conditions; not only do they have effectively unlimited rights over your contributions (including, publications…), they also have much stronger rights than you, the user, have over your own digital existence… In some cases, they can involuntarily appropriate or dispose of your information, your identity, your content, your creations, and your labors, in however manner they see fit… The vast majority of businesses and people existing on the digital landscape are either; slaves or sharecroppers… that are making others rich, and they are working tirelessly to do so….

The vast majority of business, people… using social media are happy with the model because they see their primary interest in garnering ‘attention‘, not in capturing ‘value created‘… We futz about ‘Klout’ and how many followers we have, and not the fact that our daily efforts build the empire of others… Put perhaps more bluntly, most people believe– ‘being socially famous’ is more valuable than the billions of dollars that successful social networks are earning by leveraging your content generation…

Everyone is pretty miserable trying to figure out what works: The belief is– all you need is great content and you’ll be famous– that model is wrong… According to Anita Campbell; the question at the end of the day is; after all the effort you put into creating content– do you own the fruits of your labor? When you built something of value, and is it ‘yours’?

The point of business is to create value for your commercial enterprise, but if you are only creating value for other businesses, then you are defeating purpose for being in business… Remember, sharecropping is a sucker’s game and it continues (alive and well) in today’s digital age–  it’s up to you; take control of your business, protect your content, and build a profitable business…

LinkedIn– Real Value, Tangible Business Benefits– Or, Big Waste of Time: Craft LinkedIn Strategy That Yields Results…

Does LinkedIn provide– ‘real value’, ‘tangible business benefits’… or, is it just a ‘big waste of time’? As of June 2013, LinkedIn reported more than 238 million acquired users in more than 200 countries and territories. The LinkedIn site is available in 20 languages, estimated 65.6 million monthly unique U.S. visitors and 178.4 million globally…

The membership grows by approximately two new members every second. About a third of the members are in the U.S. and 11 million are from Europe. With 20 million users, India has the fastest-growing network of users as of 2013. The Netherlands has the highest adoption rate per capita outside the U.S. at 30%. LinkedIn recently reached 4 million users in UK, 1 million in Spain, and nearly 1 million in Pakistan. In January 2013, countries with most LinkedIn users were: U.S. with 74 million members, India with 20 million members, UK with 11 million members, Brazil with 11 million members, Canada with 7 million members, Australia with 4 million members, UAE with 1.3 million members…

But, is LinkedIn a big waste of time; well maybe… According to Paul Lange; an early adopter of LinkedIn, says LinkedIn has become less relevant… it was a great way of finding people, it was like an online Rolodex but it has gradually become less effective and relevant in the business landscape… According to Jason Alba; don’t waste time on LinkedIn– don’t dabble, tinker, or wait for reward. Get in there, do it right, set up your ‘profile’, be proactive, make networking connections… Use the tool! 

According to Tara Alemany; No, LinkedIn is not a waste of time, when focus on the power parts of it! Although ‘endorsements’ are a joke; people are endorsing me for skills I don’t even have. But, ‘recommendations’ are gold! Also, ‘groups’ can be great if people use them properly, and ‘direct contacts’ when done tactfully are priceless…

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In the article Is LinkedIn a Waste of Time? by Kate Jones writes: Is LinkedIn anything more than a resource for recruiters and job seekers? Is LinkedIn really linking you in? With more than 238 million members, including 4 million in Australia, a ‘profile’ on LinkedIn is like the modern-day equivalent of a business card. But how many of those users have benefited from LinkedIn? A common complaint among LinkedIn members is the proliferation of spam, fake users, and untruthful credentials on profiles…

According to Tudor Marsden-Huggins; it’s becoming increasingly common for people to lie about or exaggerate their skills and experience on their ‘profile’… people are a bit more flexible with the truth… LinkedIn just doesn’t have the rigor… According to Danielle Di-Masi; my estimate is that 95% of Australian LinkedIn members are not using the networking site effectively… there’s a lot of set-and-forget…

There are two different camps of people using LinkedIn: The first group is people who will only connect with people they know, and the other group will connect with anyone, because they want to reach out, expand numbers… According to Tara Commerford; it’s still the best place for business people to build their professional brands, increase online visibility and grow their networks… Top five tips for using LinkedIn: Maximize your ‘profile’. Set up a company page. Grow your network. Find the right people. Be part of the conversation…

In the article Don’t Waste Your Time on LinkedIn by Alison Doyle writes: If you’re not going to do it right, there is no point wasting your time (and everyone else’s) on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is ‘the’ site for professional networking. Everyone, for example; must have a full LinkedIn ‘profile’, must connect with everyone they know, must join LinkedIn ‘groups’, and must use LinkedIn for job searching when they are in the market for a new job…

That said, LinkedIn is not going to work if you don’t identify yourself… I’ve received several invitations to connect, in the last week, from people who didn’t identify themselves (i.e., anonymous)… Now, asking me to connect with someone who has a LinkedIn ‘profile’ with ‘private’ or ‘human resources manager’ instead of their name– isn’t going to work. I have no clue who they are, and I wasn’t going to try to figure it out.

Most people, including; prospective employers, wouldn’t be interested in connecting either. LinkedIn is for ‘real’ people to connect with each other– that’s what makes it so successful and such a terrific networking tool… If confidentiality is a concern simply be careful: Connect with only people you know, well…

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In the article LinkedIn Is a Waste of a Sales Person’s Time! by Lee B. Salz writes: There are many misconceptions about LinkedIn. It’s not just for job searches or networking. It’s a unique lead generation platform… I continue to be amazed at the number of sales people who feel that LinkedIn doesn’t provide any value to them. Yet, these same people spend countless hours on Facebook telling people– what they ate for breakfast, when they are leaving for work…

LinkedIn provides sales people ‘unique’ lead generation opportunities; the operative word is unique, which means the approach must be geared to the business network… For starters, you must be positioned as thought leader in your industry, i.e., an expert that provides real value… So review your LinkedIn ‘profile’ and than ask: What message is being conveyed by your ‘profile’? This is where many sales people get stuck; they try to use the LinkedIn ‘profile’ for multiple purposes, for example; networking with friends, leaving the door open for a job search, business development…

The ‘profile’ has no clear message, and that approach doesn’t work. You must ask yourself: Why are you on LinkedIn and what are you seeking to accomplish? If your plan is to use LinkedIn for lead generation or business development, then your approach must be linear. Your ‘profile’ and ‘recommendations’ should clearly position your role in your industry… Remember, your ‘profile’ serves as the foundation for everything you do on LinkedIn: All roads lead back to this page… With your ‘profile’ developed then next join ‘groups’. Again, the goal is to be linear… Once you are accepted into a ‘group’ there is a number of things you can do. But remember, your mission is to provide real value first and not just seek to get buyers. Resist the temptation to hawk your product, service… Give real value first!

In the article Is Social Media a Complete Waste of Time? by Drew M Edwards writes: It’s no secret that social media has been one of the biggest developments in marketing for business over the past decade. Make no mistake about it if you want to dominate your market, then social media is just one of the tools you need to utilize and master… But if what you’re doing now isn’t generating any leads…then ‘stop’!

Then ask yourself; how do you make it work? The answer is a simple but critical, you must have a shift in mindset: You must ‘stop’ thinking of social media as a place to network and ‘start’ thinking of it as a marketing tool, first and foremost… It’s a subtle distinction but a huge difference… To generate leads from social media you must shift from talking about yourself– to asking and listening on how you can help your customers achieve results… In other words, as with all effective marketing you must focus on ‘benefits’ for the customer, rather than ‘benefits’ for you…

Now, don’t get me wrong– some prospects-customers are interested in what you do in your spare time, and what you’ve done in the past– so adding a human touch gives credibility and makes you more likeable. But, that must be a comparatively small percentage of what you ‘post’. So rather than talking about what you do in your spare time; talk about how you can help your customers get results… Talk about your experience and results that you have already delivered to your other customers…

Many people use LinkedIn the way the Vikings invaded Europe. The Vikings weren’t very interested in networking or building professional relationships. Their main prerogative was to loot-pillage until they got tired and went home. So how is that related? According to Paul Crompton; picture this: a recent graduate is looking for a job and sets up a LinkedIn account with a vague idea that it’ll help. They upload a picture, and copy-paste chunks of their CV into the boxes provided. They write their phone number-email address and wait for the calls to come flooding in. Except, they hardly ever do. Why? Because this approach just doesn’t work…

According to Anna DiTommaso writes: LinkedIn ‘group’ is an excellent tool, in theory. Active involvement with the right ‘group’ has lead to some of my largest and best relationships… However, like many things in theory, it doesn’t take much to ruin what could be a great networking tool. You probably have joined a LinkedIn ‘group’ and you have good reason, for example; you’re looking to connect with like-minded people who share your professional interests. Or, you want an impressive ‘group’ listed on your ‘profile’ for status. Or, you want to find channels for getting new worthwhile information…

However, once you’re in the seemingly promising ‘group’, it appears that other people join the LinkedIn ‘group’ for entirely different reasons, for example; shameless plugging-selling of their own products, services… Or, one more place to spam the world. Or, an impressive ‘group’ that’s listed on their ‘profile’ increases status! (i.e., not so different from you)… According to Mike Morrison; LinkedIn is a waste of time, if you are inconsistent, don’t have a marketing plan, and invest the wrong amount of time and effort…

The top proven strategies for ensuring that LinkedIn adds value to your business are: Relevancy– ad hoc just doesn’t work; relevancy is everything… Consistency– information that’s clear, concise; people know the subject that you are talking about and expect it… Transparency–being honest, if you are promoting your materials say so, and if it’s an affiliate say so… but, just promote things, ideas… which are of value to your group: The ‘wrong strategy’ can hurt you even more than ‘no strategy’.

Remember; if you are attracting people who are not interested in what you are doing, then this is worse than useless– you are just wasting time, energy, effort… not to mention opportunity! ‘Done right’ you can quickly double the effectiveness of your LinkedIn presence; it’s all about– regularity, relevancy, consistency, transparency. But most important, you must develop a well crafted and effective LinkedIn strategy, plan… with timely execution.

Social Networking for Business Doesn’t Work: Have a Plan, Dont Work the Room, Be Selective, Focus on Few, Follow-Up…

Networking Doesn’t Work: Working the virtual and physical room– shaking dozens of hands, having endless small-chat conversations, collecting hundreds of business cards… Forget it: It’s not the silver bullet, re-think your networking.

Most people don’t have a real network… most people don’t know how to network… most people don’t follow up… most people think growing their network list is networking. Most are on the hunt to get more business cards, collect more LinkedIn connections, Facebook friends… accumulate all that data… and for Zilch?

According to Eric V. Holtzclaw; number one rule is to stop thinking about networking as ‘networking’. Networking should not be about meeting as many people as possible in as short amount of time. There is no glory in returning to the office with a handful of business cards if nothing comes from your efforts, and there is no need to continually add to your LinkedIn connections unless you can establish a meaningful relationship with each new connections. Instead, think about value; what value can you provide to each of your contacts and each of them to you… what resource or information can you share… it’s a two-way street

Have a Plan: Who, What, Where, How… Be Selective: Pick events, social media, online communities that are right for you and your business and meet quality people who are interesting and interested…

Focus on Only a Few: Pick one or two people at any given event, and spends your time really getting to know them, and potentially connecting with the rest of their networks. Seeking to establish a quality relationship with a few people provides the greatest payback for your efforts…

It’s About Follow-Up: There’s a philosophy that says if you don’t follow-up with someone within 10 days after meeting them it was never meant to happen… follow-up determines the people who are really serious about establishing a relationship and those that just connecting for the sake of connecting…

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In the article Why Networking Doesn’t Work by Dave Clarke writes: The first and biggest mistake that many people make is they dive headlong into the activity of networking without really understanding the meaning of networking. They attend group meetings swapping business cards with everyone and broadcasting their message… they join online networks, and putting together a fancy profile, and broadcast some more. After a while this doesn’t work, and many conclude that networking doesn’t work.

Some think they may need to do something differently, so they get some training– how to work the room and how to craft the perfect elevator pitch. Then, they do the rounds again and wait for the avalanche of new clients to contact them by email, phone, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook… Again; this doesn’t work and a few more conclude that networking doesn’t work. But, it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are a few tips:

  • Don’t just dive in: Like anything worthwhile, networking takes time and application. You need to be committed to investing the time to develop relationships and create a      network of advocates… Don’t expect to walk into a room of strangers or simply post a profile online and come away with business– it just doesn’t work like that!
  • Build networking into your overall marketing and business plans: It pays to plan ahead; if you don’t know what you are trying to achieve with your networking, then how can others help you? Plan your activities and look for advocates… the more you niche your target market(s), the better… identify other people or categories likely to have access to your target market(s).
  • Understand how to explain what you do: When asked; what do you do? Present your proposition confidently and consistently– your target market, problems you solve and your stories. People do not buy what you do; they buy into why you do it. It’s your passion and enthusiasm that engages and not a clever elevator pitch.
  • Don’t ignore your existing network: The cornerstone of your networking activities should be the people you have worked with or already done business; colleagues,      customers, suppliers… Invest time in these important relationships…
  • Identify who you need to add to your network: If your existing network is not big enough to generate enough word of mouth to achieve your plan then you need to build your network. Ask yourself who else is likely to have access to and influence with your target market(s). Then find where they network and try out those networking groups.
  • Find the networks that suit you: Once you find those networking groups try them out first, then only join the groups that are most productive. People become advocates for those that they know, like, trust…
  • Become an advocate for others, first: Take time to develop the relationships with key members of your network. Become an advocate for them. And, guess what? What goes round comes round. People will eventually become advocates for you, and this is where the networking dividend really pays-off!

In the article Why Networking Doesn’t Work by Maribeth Kuzmeski writes: Networking, according to those who do it successfully (i.e., meaning– they have gained significant new business from the activity of networking) is not about collecting and giving out business cards, and it’s not about finding people who may be good prospects for your business…

Successful networking is about finding and cultivating potential advocates, people who will help you reach your goals, and it’s not about finding your next hot prospect. If you go about networking with an eye toward finding prospects, it’s a lose-lose; you won’t sell them anything and you will turn them-off; guaranteed. But if you go about networking with an eye toward finding and cultivating advocates, you will achieve a totally different result.

An advocate is someone who is already well-connected and may or may not ever become your customer… An advocate might be your neighbor, social media connection, member of your church, college buddy, your non-profit group… A single advocate can bring you multiple customers, while one potential prospect at a networking event will often result in one frustrating experience and zero sales…

So, who do know who might become an advocate? Think about it; who is well-connected in your community, your industry, your company, an existing customer, target market… Think outside the box. Who is in a position to introduce you to potential customers? Make a list of 20 potential advocates. Then, check them out on LinkedIn, Facebook… and decide how you will reach out to them… not to sell them something but simply to get to know them; just connect.

Give them a chance to get to know you. It takes a bit of patience and it most likely will not bring immediate gratification. But if you can find someone to act as your advocate, your efforts will be repaid many times over.

network OrganizationTypesGraphBNAS-Success1In the article When Networking Doesn’t Work: No Value in Just Touching Base by Trent writes: The key lesson that many people miss out on when they try to build and maintain professional connections is that without ‘value’, there is no real connection... Making empty contact doesn’t provide any value for anyone: And, you’re largely wasting your time and theirs… most important, you won’t build anything of value out of it. Instead, seek to make contacts with value; pass along value and you’ll get value in return… Here are a few tactics:

  • Never make contact unless you can contribute something of value: Don’t ask someone you only lightly know to go out for coffee unless you have a genuine purpose in doing so– and saying ‘Hi’ isn’t that purpose. Don’t waste your time, and certainly don’t waste  theirs.
  • Knowledge is often best thing you can offer– so offer it: If you have a useful piece of information that you’re sure someone else could get value out of, share it. By sending along something actually useful, you add value to their lives– and their connection to you becomes stronger because they now see you as more valuable.
  • When you pass along some value, let them know what you’re doing – and also ask about what they’re doing: A quick paragraph saying, what are you up to? And perhaps referencing the last big matter (or event) that you’re aware, which they were involved is a great way to find to keep relationship open and communication flowing.
  • Make mutually beneficial connections whenever possible: If you observe that one person’s need would be met with another person’s assets or skills; connect them together. It only takes you a minute, but if that connection provides mutual value for both parties, you’ll strengthen your relationship to both parties; it’s a win-win-win.
  • Suggest that when they’re in a bind, they should let you know, try to be helpful: Let people know that when they’re having issues, looking for solutions… they should let you know. Even if you can’t help them listening might useful, or you might know someone else who might be helpful. Become a resource…

A fundamental reason that networking doesn’t work is that most people lack a plan. They are not systematic or disciplined about which events they attend, why they attend them, what they are trying to achieve, how they will follow through after the event… According to David Nour; the critical first three areas in which networking fails are; purpose, goals, and plan (PGP)... Networking is not simply a noble exercise, but an important activity to create a preferential competitive advantage and it must not be left to chance…

According to kathleenchester; I rarely see networking work well and the majority of business people typically, only network sporadically (e.g., ‘pitch and run’) and they rarely get many relationships through their networking efforts… Networks should be developed to create strategic relationships… Where you partner and work together on long-term basis, and mutually support each other… Where you leverage each others’ centers of influence and tap into and connect with each others audiences…

According to Randy Gage; the three reasons why network marketing doesn’t work for most people are: 1.) 90% of people don’t follow the system! 2.) 9% of people follow the system but have wrong expectations!  3.) 1% of people follow the system but have poor skill set… According to David Nour; relationship creation alone won’t suffice; regardless of how many cups of coffee or lunch visits you schedule. The savvy professionals find opportunities to monetize their business relationships by bridging their ‘relationship creation’ with ‘relationship capitalization’.

Bridging this gap allows all parties to benefit and share economic value of the relationship. Be creative! It’s not just about how wide your network is, or how deep your network is, but how strong each relationship is…

 

Buying Facebook Fake Friends, Twitter Bogus Followers: Big Business of Buying Social Media Metrics– Do They Add Value…

Buying fake Facebook friends, bogus Twitter followers, false LinkedIn connections… they don’t contribute anything… they don’t add value… but, increases social media metrics, if that’s important to you…

Buying Facebook fake friends, Twitter bogus followers… and other social networking site metrics– increases popularity: Or, do they?

According to wikihow; the practice of buying followers, friends… is fairly simple. Using most any search engine, just type-in ‘buy Twitter followers’ and it produces pages of website links where you can buy thousands of Facebook, Twitter… friends, followers… Then, simply key in information and within a matter of hours, days… see the number of your friends, followers… increase by hundreds, thousands… Although, having fake followers does not necessarily mean that they were bought, and unlike Facebook friends that need to be approved, anyone can follow a user on Twitter, from a close relative to a spammer…

According to Lee Stacey; growing an ‘engaged followers base’ is essential for using Twitter to get your message out there... and it’s common practice for measuring a brand’s popularity, i.e., popularity is a measure of success. But, what if that measure isn’t real? What if those followers had been bought, rather than earned. Does it change things? From outside looking in, new followers are just incremental change to the popularity meter and your followers count.

However, fake followers have zero engagement value; even though it’s widely believed that increased numbers will increase engagement just through a belief of popularity. However, Google may be on to the scheme– it appears that inflated Twitter follower counts actually have a negative effect on search engine ranking, and even Twitter is talking about using other measures to indicate genuine social influence.

A recent study revealed that increasing the Twitter follower count by 1,000 would lead to more than a 1 place drop in Google search ranking… Since the fakes are often quite obvious it’s pretty easy to see who is buying followers. Also, the practice of buying fake followers has become such widespread, that London-based social media company developed  a web tool, named the ‘Fake Follower Check’ that can detect the number of fake followers that a user or their friends may have accumulated on their Twitter account…

According to Barracuda Labs; it’s worth bearing in mind that the fakes could have been bought by a savvy opponent that is aware of the negative impact that this could have in search results and with the press, when word gets out... Looking at all evidence, it would appear that the negatives outweigh the positives. With no engagement, fake followers provide very little value in themselves.

In the article The Business of Buying Social Media Followers by educationpr writes: There are two types of followers that industry recognizes, and they are ‘targeted’ followers, and ‘generated’ or ‘bots’ followers. ‘Targeted’ followers are retrieved using software that recognizes similar interests (with that of a user) and follows them on Twitter, and they may in turn follow the user back. ‘Generated’ followers are retrieved using accounts that are inactive or from spamming to generate followers.

Many online websites, such as; ‘Fiverr’, ‘InterTwitter’, ‘USocial’…  are offering the sale of Twitter fake followers, online. Also, people can buy fake Twitter followers for a friend… For example, Fiverr offers the sale of up to 3,200 followers for only $5.00. ‘InterTwitter’ offers for sale up to 1,000 Twitter followers for $14.00 and 2,500 followers for $26.00… ‘Followersale’ offers up to 15,000 followers for $39.00 and 25,000 followers for $69.00… So why do business buy fake followers?

New online business such as ‘MyTab’ bought 2,500 followers on ‘Fiverr’ for $5.00, and subsequently saw their actual members increase by thousands in their Twitter and Facebook accounts. The company got the popular boost that they wanted… Also, followers are usually bought by; celebrities, rock stars, stand-up comedians, actors/ actresses, even politician, and anyone who would benefit from having a wider social media footprint, without actually having to keep up their social network ties…

In the article Buying Facebook Friends: Should You Do It? by Eric Yaverbaum writes: In the age of social media, brands are willing to go to great lengths to improve their online clout. But is there any real value to ‘buy’ friends in the form of likes on Facebook? There are several Web sites with offers to buy likes for the brand: Just pay a fee that varies depending on how many fans you want to add. These services provide Facebook users with shopping coupons, games, other offers in exchange for liking the page. People like the page in exchange for something free, which seems like an effective, creative marketing ploy. But, the users have to do something in order to get the free item, and that free item has absolutely nothing to do with the person or the brand.

According to Cindy Morrison; I don’t suggest taking this route for a variety of reasons. First of all, social media is all about engaging and reaching the target audience. Going willy-nilly just to get bigger number of followers defeats the purpose. It’s better to grow your audience by giving something of value… Morrison has a valid point: Paying for likes may not get you clout or influence you seek at all. It may just get you ‘empty clout’. You’ll end up with a high number of likes on the page, but they’ll be from people who don’t actually like you.

So, while you can brag about having 2,000 followers on the page, in reality, those people have absolutely no intention of engaging with you or the brand… If all you want is a higher number of followers, fine. But, if you want people to actually care about the brand, then you should probably think twice before paying for likes. It’s important to remember Facebook measures clout with a thing called the ‘EdgeRank Score’. When you buy likes for the page, those fans will probably never engage with the content, i.e., commenting, sharing… it. When no one engages with the content, it actually lowers the ‘EdgeRank Score’, meaning that the brand is unlikely to be featured in a ‘news feed’, which means the only way a person sees the content is by going directly to the page.

The point is you should measure your social media strategy against what is realistic and achievable. Morrison adds; I’ve had social media strategy clients request that I buy them fans. But I’ve always resisted. When you look at analytics (Insights on Facebook), it just looks less than honest. Ten thousand fans in a month? Come on! I want real results that prove we’re gaining ground with new followers, building a great relationship with current customers and letting people develop true brand loyalty. People want to do business with those they know and trust. Fake fans will do neither. In sum, you may spend $300 for 10,000 Facebook likes, but ‘return on investment’ (ROI) may actually be very low– because none of those fans really like you at all…

In the article How To Buy A Ton of Twitter Followers by Sam Biddle writes: Search for ‘Twitter’ and you’ll find accounts across the globe offering to set you up with– hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of Twitter followers. All for five bucks a pop. It may vary from day-to-day, but at $5 via PayPal will net you anywhere from 400 to 80,000 new followers after a few days, hours… of processing: That’s a lot of followers! With that many followers, what could stop you in life?

But, let’s make one thing clear: These aren’t real followers. They don’t actually exist… they’re robot accounts, automatically herded toward your username via software. They won’t retweet, favorite, reply, or make a single Twitter ripple. They’re inert– mere numbers on a page. The best have awesome-obvious fake names like; ‘Demeulemeester Omayr’, ‘Bumford Rahmel’… And, the worst are gibberish, for example; ‘DiofghdfhuuIudf is now following you’. So, how does it work?

According to reputable hackers: Generally, they are compromised twitter accounts acquired with botnets, where they run script to make the accounts follow the profile in question. Not very complicated… For some businesses, people, celebrities… a large bulge in the online numbers is very important: Whether its views on YouTube video, Facebook likes, Twitter followers It’s shameful, but Twitter followers translate into something vaguely impressive. Should it? No, not really– who you truly are online should be the ‘quality’ of followers, not ‘quantity’… And yet– we like big things, and Twitter followers are an increasing barometer of influence.

If prospective employer looks you up and sees your big-shot Twitter stats, you might even land a job. Can I get in trouble: No. There’s nothing illegal about this, and doesn’t appear to violate Twitter’s terms of service. Since the accounts aren’t actually spamming anyone, and it’s doubtful Twitter has reason to go after this kind of operation. But, it’s fun to buy hordes of followers for unsuspecting friends…

Every social network site has metrics which can be misinterpreted, over emphasized and false measures… On Facebook it’s likes and friends and on Twitter followers is the lowest hanging vanity metric. According to postjoe; buying Twitter followers is a ‘black hat’ social media tactic and of particular interest because of its multi-faceted negative impact. If traffic is the goal, then buying Twitter followers is counter productive: Twitter is aware of the practice and able to tell real from robot. Google likewise can easily sniff out bogus followers. Google already weighs social media for SEO rankings. And with ‘Panda’ Google is obviously aware of bogus/spam account holders and is actively lowering the Google Page Rank of content farmed accounts. Seeing value of social media requires looking beyond simple metrics…

The key is to understand the social media ecosystem. Twitter users who are actively engaged can identify fake users in seconds, e.g., an account with 10K followers, 35 tweets, 3 retweets, 4 mentions, is not an account to follow. It’s an account to avoid. Not only will Twitter users be inclined to avoid bogus account and it’s army of robot followers it also diminishes your credibility: Credibility is trust. But credibility is also culture (taste).

Being credible, trusted, and tasteful is essential at every level of business… and, engaged employees will recoil from being represented online with bogus social media tactics. Also, consider the fact that social networks are quickly gathering a level of garbage that must be sorted and discarded to get to the real value… and not only will real engaged Twitter users not appreciate bogus followers, but fake followers don’t add value. Fake followers don’t contribute anything, and ultimately fake followers don’t buy products…

According to Nik Hewitt; there are many services that sell just about anything to boost the ranks of the social channels-followers, friends, likes, views, connections… if numbers are all you care about…

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