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Money can’t buy friends? In online marketing it can

10 May 2010
By Kris

As the old saying goes, there are some things that money can’t buy: love, happiness, and until now – friends. aims to change that last one however, selling ‘friends’ to those looking to boost their online marketing profile.

According to Leon Hill, CEO of uSocial, $87 can buy you a whole load of friends: 1,000, to be exact – and his site offers online friends on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, while also offering a service which can get you onto the front page of Reddit and Digg.

And it’s a business model that works, too. Hill’s business is so profitable that he is simply bored. “I really need a hobby”, the Australian entrepreneur said.

Why we mustn’t ignore social media

If the value of social media is doubted by any online marketing agency, they only need to look to the survey which recently found that consumers said they are more likely to buy from brands which they engage with on social networking sites. Users also see companies as ‘irrelevant’ if they have little or no social media presence.

From this it’s clear that a thriving social media profile is a vital part of any online marketing campaign. This is where uSocial supposedly enters the frame: you pay them for friends, and the friends supposedly then become customers.

Can buying friends really work?

There are some who are sceptical of the promises made by uSocial. One customer reported his experience with uSocial’s Facebook package, saying that the company’s online marketing campaign was, “superficially successful, with a large influx of fans joining.”

However he went on to say, “Despite telling that we are UK based and wished to have UK based fans, the fans we gained were all American. So while we gained pure numbers, we diminished our relevance and simply wish we hadn’t bothered.”

Any decent digital marketing agency knows from experience that a key component of any online campaign is real, organic word of mouth. It’s this authentic element of social media which makes it such a valuable tool for companies; and by simply paying for numbers of fans or followers, you’re most likely setting yourself up for disappointment.

How to tell if your campaign is on track

While the number of followers you have is one indicator of social media success, it shouldn’t be the sole factor by which you measure how well your social media campaign is performing. Some important things to keep in mind are:

  • How much activity are your online followers generating?
  • Are your followers in a country in which you conduct business?
  • Do your followers fit your target demographic?
  • How many visits are your posted links receiving?

The task of any online marketing agency is to enable companies to grow as a result of social media – not simply to feel popular by accruing online followers who are at best, uninterested, and at worst, not even human.

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