If you learned a popular brand’s Facebook page became popular because they purchased “Likes,” would you hold that brand in the same regard?
What would you do if you learned some popular bloggers who you hold in the highest regard are paying people to post positive reviews of their products or services?
Would you hold less respect for a very well known “social media expert” who paid to have people talk about his business using popular search terms in order to get on top of the Google rankings?
Some people might say these are simply marketing tactics, but I’m not so sure. What I do know is that if someone I trust to give me information is paying to reach the top, he owes it to his community to make this known. If you glaringly omit “I paid for Facebook Likes and Amazon reviews” from your “how I made it to the top” speech, you’re scamming your community. Tell them how you really became popular and let them draw their own conclusions.
There’s no such thing as an overnight success and anyone who tells you they make tens of thousands of dollars in a single month, or who achieves a massive amount of Likes, traffic, or positive reviews in a short period of time, is worth investigating. I’m not saying they didn’t achieve those results, I’m only saying we shouldn’t blindly accept that this happened the way they said it did.
Before you latch on to a guru, make sure he puts his money where his mouth is. Ask the hard questions.
- If you’re not really buying that a blogger achieved such a great success in such a short time, ask.
- If someone’s website has vague claims of all the Fortune 500 companies he worked with, but he stops short of naming a single brand, ask. And then ask how long he worked for said company and why he doesn’t work with them anymore. Working for a big name brand for a month before getting fired is a lot different than “my clients include Fortune 500 brands.”
- If a famous name has pages of search engine results for some weird search term,, ask them if they paid to have people write content about them to game the search engines.
- When bloggers make claims of huge sales and big monthly payoffs, ask them if you can see a bank statement or check stubs.
Lately there’s a lot of talk about top online personalities who aren’t who they say they are. I don’t know about that, but I’d like to submit we’re all part of the problem. Do we really think we can make $50,000 a month? If it was so easy, wouldn’t more of us be doing it? And do we really think brand X received 10,000 Facebook Likes in a single week? We accept this because we want to believe this can happen to us. And the people who make these claims want us to believe this because when it doesn’t happen to us they want us to continue buying their info products in hopes of us getting there.
We love our bloggers. They’re fun and sassy and famous. We want to be just like them. We want them to invite us into their circles so we can feel big time too. But if we say something about them, if we hint their numbers might be a little off , or that we may have seen them on a popular auction site buying fake positive reviews of their products, or if something just doesn’t sit right about their stories, we run the risk of being shunned.
If I out (insert name of popular guru here) does that mean he won’t give me retweets anymore? And if I publicly question (Insert big name social media speaker here) on her alleged Fortune 500 background, will her millions of fans turn against me? Will all her big name social media friends kick me out of the club?
The reason these people are popular is because we make them popular. If we know some of them aren’t who they say they are, we’re not talking. Too many people are afraid of pissing off famous bloggers because they want these big names to be their friends and share their content. They want to have their picture taken with famous people so everyone can think they’re famous too. Maybe it’s time to be famous for another reason - doing the right thing.
Finally, I’ll leave you with this: There are no secrets to making money online or being a success. If there are, you have to wonder why they’re secrets. If a popular online personality is selling you success, it’s up to you to ask the questions. Otherwise, you deserve to be duped. We believe because we want to believe, but why aren’t we out there doing our due diligence? We research our plumbers, lawyers and bankers to make sure they’re not going to rip us off. Why, then, aren’t we looking further into the claims of many of the people who do business online?
Thanks to Jordan Cooper for the conversation that inspired this post.