Social Media Experts… Shame on Some of You!!

I had a chat with a social media expert recently who during the part of the call where tips were shared, was rather proud of his top tip…. Do you want to know what it was?

His top tip was to create fake profiles on facebook and have those fake profiles asking questions to each other with other fake profiles responding and making recommendations as third parties.

Not new news but still disappointing to hear nonetheless.

Why oh why do people still do this stuff?

Have the quality messages still not sunken in?


There are much better ways to channel effort and energy so that they deliver genuine and meaningful conversations, build quality conversations and relationships, and ultimately result in a better return on investment.

If you can’t trust in your product or service to facilitate proper conversations and endorsements then forget it!  There is a whole ‘offline’ community where people communicate outside of social media and the smoke and mirror methods will end up making people look like proper charlies! It’s not just the social media experts reputation that is at risk but the client’s too! I wonder if they endorse this method as a social media norm.

I seek the fake profile approach being more obviously on business forums and blogs and I guess it can be quite tempting to do for what appears to be a “quick win” but be careful as this approach could come back and bite you on the backside!

Does anyone have any similar stories to tell or tips and comments for others on this subject?

  • Maxine

    Thanks for Comments – Debs, you are spot on! I couldn’t get to the bottom of whether his clients were OK with this approach though. Part of me thinks they may have been lead to believe this was and OK thing to do. As you say Grant, they are likely to vote with their feet in the end!

    And another “well said” from me too Andrew! :)

  • Debs Williams

    Well said Andrew! :)

  • Andrew Knowles

    As a writer I also talk to my customers about social media marketing. I find that I usually know a lot more than they do but I do not call myself an ‘expert’.

    There’s plenty of scope of businesses to use social media unethically. It comes down to how do you want to run your business? To make money by any means, or to do it with integrity? I know what sort of businesses I want to engage with.

  • Grant Probate

    Of course he was an ‘expert’, the real shame is that as we live in a free society, generally barriers to entry in a great businesses are low, so any fool can pipe up and claim to be an expert, sooner or later he’ll get found out. If he needs the smoke and mirrors, the question to ask is ‘what value does he provide his client? If you invent trains, you invent train spotters.
    Personally the existence such charlatans are a small price to pay in a free society. Most of his prospects aren’t fools, as they have feet, they’ll walk.

  • Debs Williams

    It really winds me up that people do things like this.

    He’s treading on very dodgy ground anyway – perhaps he needs pointing in the direction of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations which quite clearly state that this sort of marketing activity is very naughty…

    Debs :)

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  • Maxine

    No, I didn’t Jonathan, though I probably should have! In all honesty I just went a bit quiet and mulled this over a bit more. On the one hand as NetAccountant says I appreciate that people do things to give a helping hand.

    It’s not too uncommon to see agencies and assistants who look after several clients use that to their advantage sometimes ie; being able to retweet or like things from various clients accounts that they have access to or even just giving access to that audience but that’s a bit different to creating fake profiles. In some cases its an advantage when people are upfront about it in terms of getting the ball rolling but if its done to mislead deliberately then I think that’s not cricket and actually pretty meaningless.

  • Maxine

    Yes it was a self-proclaimed expert. I’m not completely knocking this as I do agree that it can be useful to get the ball rolling using a variety of tactics … There was a fab example of this in 2006 with music which doesn’t relate to what I was saying about todays fake profiles on facebook but it does show the power of giving a little helping hand.

    But, I would relate the fake profiles and discussions back to the typical company exploring social media to be careful of insincerity and as you say creating a lot of work and hassle for little benefit and quite a bit of risk.

    What I would be concerned about is employing any social media agency or consultant who measures or gets paid on results around ‘engagement’ that could be measured by fake discussions and interactions.

    I quite naively thought that this didn’t go on much in the SME word, but perhaps I am wrong!

    Thanks for taking the time to comment – appreciate it :)

  • NetAccountant

    Was he a self proclaimed “expert” or an industry recognized one? This top tip may be working to get the ball rolling, but it creates much more work/hassle than going down the quality path.

  • jonathan

    Did you ask your man if he knew that fake profiles are against Facebook terms of service?

    On second thoughts, did you ask him if he knew what ToS meant?

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