Lie to Me: The Dirty Truth About Online Manipulation.

Durden

The world around you is a lie.

Virtually every aspect of online presence can be manufactured and really, you’re none the wiser.

In this article I’d like to expose some of the online manipulation methods that are used, are taught, and I have used in order to manufacture a more successful looking online presence. It must be noted that if done correctly, good online manipulation is virtually untraceable, but if done poorly will damage your reputation faster than you could possibly imagine.

It must be stated that these manipulation methods for getting content ranked are nothing new. Media manipulation has existed in nearly all forms of media for longer than we’d like to admit. That manipulation tactics are applied to the internet should come as no surprise.

Publishers buying several copies of their own book to make a best seller’s list. Record companies using call centers to request specific songs on MTV. Movie producers staging boycotts to earn free press about a movie…

This is the type of stuff we’re talking about, and because nearly everything can be anonymous online, the internet is easier to manipulate.

This is going to be the first in a short series that exposes these online manipulation methods.

What I’ve done (and the mistakes I made.)

I’m not without blood on my hands.

In 2007, I created a music video for a musician, and that video found it’s way to the top of the charts on Myspace (people were still using it then).

As a result, the band outsold many national acts on midnight release at our local independent music chain.

The method for topping the charts was simple. A plugin called ReloadEvery for firefox would reload the page at set intervals of time. A “view” on Myspace at the time counted after 5 seconds of the video playing, so we set ReloadEvery on 60 or so tabs on three computers and let it run until the browser crashed.

Myspace’s chart rankings at the time were based only on view counts. With 720 views happening every minute that equals out to roughly 1.04 million views by the end of the day.

From the casual observer’s standpoint, you have no idea where those views are coming from, all you see is that it’s fast rising, which sparks your curiosity and gets you to click. That’s all I really need.

It’s important to note that discovering this method was by total accident on a sleepless night. What I noticed was that at 3am est – or midnight pacific – all of the view counts were reset to 0 on the charts. After refreshing the page, I would notice unnatural growth for such an odd hour. Seeing this movement on several videos is what tipped me off that there were automated means being used on nearly every video in the charts.

In other words, 3am was the gunshot fired to see who had more robots that could move their videos the fastest.

Where I failed…

Though the video maintained position in the charts and gathered some comments, it was a significantly disproportionate amount for the views that were happening on the video.

Where I went wrong was not also setting up fake accounts to comment on said video. As one guy (and no experience), the sheer volume necessary was simply too much to maintain.

The comments section of the national recording artists I was competing against however, were more fleshed out. Many of these I’m sure were authentic because the artist was already known, but digging deeper into the accounts of other commenters you would find several “private” and information sparse profiles.

Soulja Boy was among one of these artists at the time, and his campaign represented the other fatal flaw, I never leveraged the fake exposure to get real exposure.

The way this works is whoever is in charge of promotion takes those fake view counts (and comments) then sends them over to a relevant music blogger.

The blogger then turns around and shares the story with their audience. Whether they like it or not is irrelevant, because with such high view counts, clearly somebody likes it, and if they’re the first to “discover” a new artist, they get more online street cred.

After the song gets featured on one smaller blog, you send an email from another fake account to a slightly larger blog with some details on the musician who then shares with a larger audience.

Then you take that buzz that’s building, and start sending emails to late night talk shows(Like Conan or Jimmy Fallon), day time talk shows (Like Ellen), larger music networks (Like Fuse) and watch the coverage start to trickle it’s way down the smaller blogs all over again.

My second miscalculation…

If you’re reading this, you’re probably familiar with my show “Inside The Mind.”

A dirty truth about the show was that after noticing a dip from the first episode to the second, I decided to purchase some views for the second and third videos.

Nothing crazy, just a few thousand extra views to make things look like they were going well.

Now while this may offend you as someone who watched the show, let me share with you the most important observation from this…

When there were a larger amount of views, you were more likely to comment.

Maybe not you specifically, but statistically speaking on the videos that have reasonable 4 figure views there were high double digit interaction rates.

It all went haywire when someone on my team took it upon themselves to purchase views ranging around the 20-24k mark.

To be as truthful as possible, I was unaware that the views were purchased, but because I set the precedent, I have no choice but to take responsibility.

The truth is, when I was in control of the view buying, it encouraged natural feedback without making things look distorted or pushing me to leave comments from fake accounts (which I never want to do).

To re-iterate, when there were a reasonable amount of fake views there were more pieces of genuine feedback like comments and “likes”

When the fake views became unreasonable the feedback dropped off, likely due to cognitive dissonance.

I’m not sharing this with you because I’m proud of what happened, nor am I trying to condone my actions, but to let you know that these methods exist, and many popular blogs use similar tactics to get you to pay attention.

 Leveraging “Social Proof”


Ever notice how some of the “dud” posts on certain popular blogs always have the similar amount of social shares that happen?

Without naming names, I’ve noticed popular blogs have anywhere between 300-500 shares on posts that only gain around 10-15 comments… how does that happen?

Two ways actually…

The first isn’t quite so dirty because the blogger’s have no control over it. This is when their readers automate the blogger’s RSS feed to automatically update Twitter.

Services like Twitterfeed.com do this instantly or on a delayed release, but my personal favorite tool for this is SocialFlow which will only releases at the most optimal time (I talked about in Episode 21)

Like I said, this isn’t as dirty because the blogger has no control over it. What is dirty however is when a blogger pays someone to become part of their “distribution” network.

What’s even dirtier is when a popular blogger creates several twitter accounts, then uses a service like “tweetadder” follow a bunch of people in the same niche, then uses something like twitterfeed to automate all of those accounts updates.

If a person is running several profiles through a service like TweetDeck, they could also maintain the appearance of legitimacy by putting out real tweets and responding to real people, all the meanwhile funneling most traffic over to the main site.

Then let’s say that blogger has fake accounts to kick off the first couple of comments, and perhaps even those commenters get into a fight with each other…As soon as you jump in and comment, as soon as you click the share button yourself, you’ve validated the entire process.

The whole point is that these methods create the appearance of legitimacy in order to gain actual legitimacy.

Now, for the major question, does it really matter?

If you don’t know you’re being scammed – and you actually gain value from what you’re interacting with, does it make a difference?

I’d love to get your thoughts on this ;-)

Update: Follow up conversation Where Do We Draw The Line is here.

{ 69 comments… read them below or add one }

Marlene Hielema August 17, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Hmm, some things to ponder for sure. I’ve never purchased views or back links, but just yesterday I asked my email subscribers for help in reaching the 100K milestone with my YouTube views. I’m close to reaching it anyhow, but I wanted to use the BHAG as a way to get people interacting on my YT channel, especially if they’d never been there before. Does that count? I’m also not one to “game” the system as I don’t want to get my YT account blocked, as that has happened to people I know.

So to answer your question, yes it definitely matters to me as an internet content producer, but I know where my line is.

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Tommy August 17, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Nahhh I don’t think that counts and it’s totally transparent!

From the moral standpoint I think you’re right, which is why when I found out our big time views weren’t authentic, I stopped altogether. I had a complete false hope and started going after sponsors, and ultimately withdrew my requests when I learned the truth.

Being on both sides, I can say that I honestly felt a lot better about what we were doing after all inauthentic activity stopped, but have to be honest, it was very disheartening to see the real numbers…

with respect to the big guys, I’ve been shocked to learn just how much manipulation has gone on to get people all the way to the top (like interviews on national news top) it’s crazy to me!

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James Wedmore August 17, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Even when purchasing “real views,” they come from communal sites where the viewer is only required to watch your video for like 15 seconds and then move on to the next (in an effort to earn points, coupons, etc)…the result: your Absolute Audience Retention looks like Niagra Falls after just a few seconds. AND Youtube sees this…and they say, “hmmm…people must not like this video if they leave after 15 seconds, lets put something here that people WILL like”

ALSO…

You can’t buy artificial customers. (Oh, I wish!!)

I’ve noticed a direct correlation with list size, and subscriber size, and income.

You just got to sack it up and start from where ever you are, put in your dues, and keep doing it.

Cheers,

James W

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Tommy August 17, 2012 at 6:15 pm

Great point James!

The question I have though, and be honest here, is if someone has several automated robot systems working (say using twitter, and the feed example) for them, and they’re attracting real people through their automated means and pointing real people towards videos with gamed views… is it conceivable they become “real” subscribers based on fabricated social proof… I’m not condoning it, but I’ve seen it work.

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Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca August 18, 2012 at 10:43 pm

What you’re describing is using a “portion” of ‘fake’ views to attract a portion of ‘real’ views, if I understand correctly.

All things being equal, you’re primarily attracting with this tactic, “band-wagon jumpers” — people who just generally dont have the passion to comment, unless they see high social proof.

The thing about this is, what does it mean that the ‘real’ people you’re attracting are basically attracted purely on a #s / social proof basis?

It’s more about What Type Of People you intend to attract.

The people I attract at Ryze, if you read the comments, all write deep, insightful paragraphs. I’ve been praised for the “rich discussions” that I encourage and that take place on Ryze.

Would I impact that or do any better by buying views as social proof, or would I just attract the lowest common denominator, people who only invest when they see big #s?

Are they mutually exclusive? Is there overlap?

To me leveraging fake views for real ones feels like “looking for love in a strip club,” appealing at first, but not really when you look deeper.

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Tommy August 19, 2012 at 8:20 am

If you take a look at the quality of comments on the first few videos, they’re all pretty high. Yeah there were some simple “This was great!” comments, but for the most part, they were pretty worthwhile.

I don’t think it’s a matter of “bandwagon” thinking so much as it is human beings are hardwired to believe bigger is better. The simple truth is, on some level we rank people online based on the amount of numbers they have whether it’s associated with their Email subscriber list, Facebook Fans, or Twitter profile. It’s a snap decision made almost instantly, but it happens all the time.

There’s also a subtly involved. When the videos had 4-5k views, that was reasonable, and that’s when there were more quality comments. When they shot up to 25k almost overnight, that looked very suspect and I believe caused some dissonance thus dropping the feedback rate.

The truth is though, cheating requires more cheating requires more cheating. At the end of the day, whether you do it or not is your choice. But it’s important you understand the system if you’re going to play within it. You must also understand that many of the people who you decide to build your business with (think by way of guest posting) may be doing it too and you may have no idea…

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Kerwin August 17, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Tommy,
This is interesting and thank you for sharing it.

The readers who come to my blogs don’t comment much, but they do consume the content based on the analytics; that’s good as I know I’m providing value. Sure I’d love them to share it more, but its not happening just yet. I’d rather have zero comments than manipulate the social proof numbers.
This is one of the reasons why I really hate the “social proof” thing that you hear about all the time; and you speak about here.

So lessons learned for you huh?

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Tommy August 17, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Very much so. and it’s only straight organic growth from this point on.

But still, it blows my mind that when there were only a few thousand views… like 3-5k (and I know how many I bought) there were significantly higher organic feedback rates.

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Mars Dorian August 17, 2012 at 6:20 pm

wow, that’s quite a revelation, man, I knew people were gaming the system, but you reveal some pretty detailed mechanics I have NEVER thought about it.

I always believe that as long as you don’t hurt anyone, you can do whatever the heck you want to do. And since settung fake accounts and increasing your share numbers doesn’t hurt anyone, except the person behind if it, ha, I think you have to the right to do it. Whether people like it or not shouldn’t be your problem.

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Tommy August 17, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Mars thanks for being brave enough to take the more controversial stand point. Part of me agrees with you (obviously, because I’ve done it myself) and knowing what goes on behind the scenes of some major publications, it makes me wonder… is there really any other way to break past that certain glass ceiling?

Can you reach a saturation point, and the only way to get bigger is to cheat (a little)?

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Christian August 19, 2012 at 9:43 pm

I agree, Mars. It’s all good, and that’s one of the things I love about the interwebz. As Tommy said in the post, these tactics have been around for ages…way before the internet. What he’s describing here is just the internet’s version of old school marketing and PR shit. I love how candidly you described things, Tommy. Rock on.

What’s different between then and now is that fewer and fewer people are making *buying* decisions based on the type of metrics that can be produced by tactics like these. There’s a mentality that I believe needs to be destroyed…by nuclear means if necessary. That is the belief that popularity is the path to profitability. The truth is that fame has always been an anomaly. If it weren’t, it wouldn’t really be very impressive. Profitability on the other hand, is accessible to anyone.

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Brian August 17, 2012 at 6:23 pm

“If you don’t know you’re being scammed – and you actually gain value from what you’re interacting with, does it make a difference?”

That’s an excellent question, Tommy.

When one person games the system to get ahead, it often forces others to engage in the same underhanded behavior to remain competitive. This creates a playing field that’s no longer level. And therein lies the problem…

On that sort of skewed playing field, you’ve invariably got some content creators who’s content isn’t worth a damn. But they’ve learned how to cheat the system and thereby waste peoples’ time with their lackluster content. And that makes for a cynical audience — one that may not bother to take the time to engage with good content that was created and marketed ethically.

For that reason, I’ve always chosen to play be the rules when marketing my own and my clients’ content.

A good way to look at it might be this: If Google knew what you were doing, would they penalize you for it? White hat tactics should always trump black hat tactics.

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Andrea Vahl August 17, 2012 at 6:30 pm

There is a great temptation to “keep up with the Joneses” or however you plural-ize Jones. The problem is when you perceive you are falling behind because other people are gaming the system. I have so many clients who have bought Facebook Likes and immediately regret it. Like you said, people notice that there is a disproportionate number of comments or interaction when compared to the audience.

The frustrating thing is that some people who do game the system do get ahead. But at least when you don’t game it and rely on your own awesomeness, you can sleep at night :)

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Tommy August 17, 2012 at 6:34 pm

But at least when you don’t game it and rely on your own awesomeness, you can sleep at night

Perfectly said.

Yes, I’ve been asked by prospective clients my thoughts on “buying likes” to which I said, if you want to game it and do it right, you might as well direct that energy into creating better content, because real people are only going to think your fake commentors are stupid. Plus FB ads are going to bring you people who will actually like your stuff, if you targeting using half a brain :-P

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Tyler Herman August 17, 2012 at 6:46 pm

“FAKE IT TELL YOU MAKE IT”

Social proof is everything online. It is nice to see examples of people actually outing themselves about it. Every large company does this. Do you ever see a big company without like 50000 twitter or facebook followers, even if the account is brand new.

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Sam August 17, 2012 at 6:54 pm

There are easier, quicker ways to manipulate social shares, commenting, exposure, reach, and all the other things people want to get. What you talked about above only scratches the surface.

The next level deception comes in when you do things like going after monetary gain from artificial numbers (like you almost did going after sponsors) AND, perhaps more so, use them to support an “Expert”, “Guru”, and authority image that lands you on a TV show, major publication, and so on.

This happens more often, and faster, than if you were just trying to toil in the vineyard of nebulous branding or image. Branding, incidentally, comes after the fact more often than not.

By the way, decent job trying to ride the wave of “Trust Me, I’m Lying” book, though. That’s one way to gain, somewhat, “organic” exposure.

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Tommy August 17, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Sam (if that is your real name), you’re very right and we’re going to go deep down the rabbit hole. Can’t lie, I’m reading trust me I’m lying right now which was a great influence in me coming clean in this post. I agree with Ryan Holiday in that the system is too easy to manipulate, and that it’s important we have these conversations in order to understand the system.

The truth is, platforms like YouTube are changing their algorithm to make sure techniques like the one I used don’t work, or don’t work as well.

I believe firmly that time will either promote or expose you, so it’s all about doing what’s right for the long term.

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Sam August 19, 2012 at 4:31 am

Of course Sam is my real name. Trust me.

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Tommy August 19, 2012 at 8:55 am
Adam Johnson August 17, 2012 at 9:10 pm

On the one level, you think that it is self-evidently wrong to deceive people in order to get their attention. Deceit could never be a good foundation for a relationship, which is presumably the goal of marketing. At least, that is my goal – building conversations around the little esoteric niche I write in.

But, drilling down a bit, if “good” people will only see your work through “bad” techniques, then its a little less clear. Or perhaps ongoing relationships is not the goal of marketing, but rather buzz etc trumps all. Or even harder, if there is a clear financial reward from having large followers, then it will be hard to resist.

I personally like to think that I’d never game these numbers. I’m perfectly happy to write articles in a manner that captures attention, this is a world away from getting all of your mates to say that you are interesting.

Perhaps I’m a bit old school and idealistic, but ultimately, it cannot be healthy for the social media ecosystem to have artificially inflated numbers. A bit of a “tragedy of the commons” – what is good for a few destroys the whole for everybody.

Nice post, and nice promotion of the post. All of which is for the good.

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Tommy August 17, 2012 at 9:31 pm

Thanks! And which I must state for the record all promotion for the post is totally organic (well, I did send a few emails and Dms to get their thoughts, but that isn’t against the rules is it?)

To go into your point a little more, relationships are what it’s all about, and like Mars said, if nobody gets hurt, it can’t be all that bad (think of it like a first date, you’re always more impressive on the first date) but if you’re doing it for buzz, that’s kind of dumb because manufactured buzz only gets seen by the robots that promote it (unless it’s leveraged into real buzz that is)

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Eden August 18, 2012 at 1:54 am

Ahhh you cleared up that mystery for me, I have seen that blog trick before and I couldn’t put my mind around it so thanks for the insight.
I wonder what the infatuation with fame is that takes people down that deceitful path where they still feel like they gain something from it….in the end it will all become apparent. If you writing sucks and no one is paying attention to you , you manipulating the data to ‘fluff’ yourself up…your writing still sucks and even if it did get you some traction, at some point your still gonna suck at something related to all of it.
I was happy to share this post, as well, because it really talks about the dirty dark side and people love to talk dirty, lol.

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Gemma D Lou August 18, 2012 at 2:11 am

Hmmmm.

I’m not sure Tommy. Thanks for the post though. Heart on the sleeve type stuff, and thanks for sharing the truth and being super honest. There are lots of whistle-blowers in the blogosphere right now, exposing the truth, so it’s definitely great to get a heads up as a new blogger. I hear you, Jade Craven, and Ryan Holiday. There’s always plenty of ways to get the same things done.

But I like being ethical, not just in online presence but in everything. And fair. In sports. In debates. Whatever. That with everything I do, there is honour and truth. Sure I may lose out at first, but the win is sweeter when you’re not cheating. It really is, especially when you win against folk who you know are cheating. Then you feel super good, but it’s up to each and every individual. Some folks can feel no way about cheating in a game of Monopoly. Everytime, there’s a cheater, and it may even be funny to them, so I guess the online presence world is no different.

I guess, the question lies in whether buying extra likes or views is cheating. Well, that, I’m not sure. I would go with, yes, it’s definitely manipulation. But the whole news media is about manufacturing news most of the time. There are plenty of world disasters, shock reports from the celeb world and what not, but in between that, there are stories about so-and-so’s views, business stuff, product stuff. All manufactured. Manipulation however, feels to me like cheating the news, where something that doesn’t exist on any level, becomes news.

But if manipulated news is funny, as in, genuinely funny, like a hoax that at the end I can laugh at and go, yep, “you got me,” then fair enough. It was all one big joke, and the media got joked on just like the rest of us.

If the information that’s being spread is by dirty means, and that information is something valuable and I benefit from it, then I’ve still benefited. It’s just disheartening that it couldn’t reach me without the manipulation process, and that in itself makes me highly disappointed in the system that won’t allow valuable information to reach folks without the trickery.

Just the other day, I was reading that Mit Romney had paid for a drastically disproportionate number of twitter accounts, fake ones Again, it may not be Mit Romney himself, but his people, mind. I’m sure he’s not the only one.

Social proof is so important because of the psychological effect it has on us human beings, that leveraging it to our advantage is definitely a smart move for a marketer, but there are definite boundaries between ethical marketing, organic and then manipulation. Most of it isn’t organic, as in it just grows by itself, a lot of it is technically manufactured, but ethical, like all those public opinion reports about women’s favourite cereal, or our sleeping patterns. The news is manufactured because of a study conducted for a company to get into the news. Fair enough. They uncovered something we didn’t know.

Manipulation…..hmm……..I wouldn’t do it myself.

Good article. Made me ask questions of myself I didn’t even think about asking. In fact, great article! And thank you.

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Tommy August 18, 2012 at 7:33 am

Sure I may lose out at first, but the win is sweeter when you’re not cheating.

I think this is really the heart of the comment, and this is the choice people ultimately have to make for themselves.

I’m glad you make the distinction between ethical, organic, and manipulation and I agree, it is disheartening that the system begs to be manipulated in order to become fully leveraged. That’s not the impression I was given when I first started in this game, know what I mean?

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Johnny B. Truant August 18, 2012 at 9:10 am

Hmm. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Mainly, I feel annoyed, I guess. Stuff like this always bugs me because I feel like I’m trying to fight a bunch of fucking ghosts. I’m an optimistic person and I try to always give people the benefit of the doubt, and I want to believe that when I want to buy something on Amazon and look at the reviews to see if I should, that I’m not being played like a fucking punk. I want to believe in the crowdsourced beauty of the internet, where things tend to be real because the presence of so many people makes everyone kind of even out and police themselves. Like Wikipedia. Why should that work? But it does, because everyone adds a bit and everyone corrects stuff they can prove is wrong. Errors can come up, sure, but it really seems like Wikipedia should be rife with them, and it’s not.

I get annoyed at stuff like this because the above optimism means I look naive even when doing my own material. Material, by the way, I WORK MY ASS OFF to create and distribute. So when I hear that anyone can buy views or reload pages and beat me through bullshit, not-real magic, yeah, it pisses me off. And what’s worse, it gets me thinking that maybe I should do some of it too. Partially because it works, but also because the presence of so much smoke and mirrors makes even great content with good marketing hard to stand out without it.

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Tommy August 18, 2012 at 1:50 pm

I think annoyed is probably the only way anyone who works their ass off can feel about this. I think Gemma said it best in her comment “Sure I may lose out at first, but the win is sweeter when you’re not cheating.” which is ultimately what I came to after I found that our over-inflated views weren’t organic (I had been duped by the monster I had started feeding)

As someone who’s been on both sides of it, the only thing I can say is that wins aren’t nearly as sweet. Somewhere in the back of your head you’re saying to self “…yeah, minus however many things we bought” which ultimately sucks the reward out of everything. In the end, I think it’s important that we all recognize it for what it is, then make our decisions accordingly. I know where I stand on this now, but it wasn’t without trying it just a little to learn.

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Beth Hayden August 19, 2012 at 11:33 am

I couldn’t agree more, Johnny. I would never do these types of shenanigans, I would never advise my clients to do them under *any* circumstances, and I find competing with people who are doing these things frustrating as hell. I think manipulating stats like this is lying — and it’s wrong. And it is one of the things that is giving Internet marketers a bad name.

Just recently did a post for Copyblogger called How to Resist the Temptation to Lie and Cheat Your Way to the Top that talked about how some journalists are fabricating quotes and plagiarizing in their books. I believe they do this when they bow to the pressure to succeed at any cost.

Media manipulation is the same kind of behavior, in my mind. It’s cheating, it’s not right, and we all need to find our way back to balance so that we’re not even tempted to do it.

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Tommy August 19, 2012 at 11:37 am

Beth I have to thank you for that post too because it is partly what inspired this one :-)

Also, I feel like I must re-iterate I did stop the behavior and confronted my team member when they took it too far.

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Jay Baer August 18, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Tommy -

Terrific post. Appreciate the candor.

I’ve been in online marketing since 1994, and I know only two things to be true. First, the tools always change, so if you build your business on the back of a particular tool, you’ll eventually be disappointed. Second, the whole thing is a game of Geek chess.

Loopholes will be found, and they will be exploited. Comfort level with the gray/black side of the business varies widely. It comes down to how okay are you with using trickery for personal gain? I don’t know. How okay are you with shoplifting? How okay are you with shoplifting if you’re starving? It’s circumstantial ethics. I don’t begrudge people taking shortcuts. I don’t do it myself knowingly (although for sure some people have my blog on auto-tweet), but I can certainly understand the temptation.

Overall, I’d say that we put too much emphasis on social proof to guide our consumption decisions. Why do we give a crap how many times something has been tweeted or viewed? Why do we give a crap how many stars a restaurant has on Yelp? Why do we give a crap how many points a wine is rated?

The reality is that if you use the “wisdom of crowds” to dictate what you watch, what you read, and what you buy then you are – by definition – a lemming. If everybody had more self-confidence in their own desires and preferences and stopped trying to use (easily gamed) social proof to short-cut the curation process, we’d all be better off.

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Tommy August 18, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Ahhh! you bring a very interesting angle to the conversation Jay!

So many people do rely on the “wisdom of crowds” kind of thinking to their consumption, and by proxy what they’ll spend money on. Videos on YouTube that have lower view counts for example, I sort of automatically dismiss, even if it’s good, if it doesn’t have a decent view count. I don’t mean to do it (especially as a creator) but it just kind of happens automatically.

I can also think of more than a few people (in this space especially) who purposefully cultivate that lemming mentality in order to make more sales. Would you say that we as consumers need to do a little more “waking up?” and what about us as creators? Do we need to encourage a more enlightened mindset, even if it risks not putting food on our tables?

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Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca August 18, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Holy.

This is so real, man.

Way to talk about s*** that matters.

Have you read Ryan Holiday’s “Trust Me, I’m Lying” ?

I have a lot to say about this but the summary comes down to this:

The only things that matters are:
1. Your intentions with every action.
2. Your own personal code of ethics (at the time).

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Kat Lessin August 27, 2012 at 2:04 pm

I am so in the same camp as you.
Well said and summed up.

I get the “why” behind it and I understand all of that.

But I think the major insight I am left with is this:
perception and action are very much interrelated in the online and social spaces. Something to think about in more depth for sure.

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Jane Boyd (@boydjane) August 19, 2012 at 11:19 am

Quite the post here. Perception is everything. Yes….there are about a million ways that we can manipulate things online. Clearly, there are people and companies who choose this route. In many ways, the online space is no different than the world around us. No matter what space we are in, there will always be those who choose to deceive or do things for their own gain that are questionable. Here is what I know about these issues – no matter where they hit you in life. You need to know who you are and what you stand for. You need to be clear on your higher purpose, your values and where you are going. If you know these things and they are truly aligned with who you are then it will be much easier to make decisions about things that might be questionable practices or ethics. You need to be clear on what practices are acceptable to you. I focus my energies online and in real time, building relationships with people who align with my values. Recently, someone I know applied a method of increasing views that I felt was highly questionable. Now this person is also someone that I have a great relationship with and whom I value very much. Rather than turning a blind eye; I privately called them on this behaviour. It was a learning experience for both of us. The person, realized that the approach was over the line and changed their strategy. I realized that there are certain lines in the online space that truly matter to me and that I won’t ever cross. Sometimes things can be a slippery slope; but if you are clear that values attract values everything becomes so much easier. If one day I were to cross such a line myself (in a moment of judgement error), I know that those people around me would also call me out on it. Surrounding yourself with the RIGHT people makes all the difference.

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Tommy August 19, 2012 at 11:33 am

You need to know who you are and what you stand for

That about sums it up :-)

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John Haydon August 19, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Tommy – great post here, I really appreciate your honesty about bumping video views.

In terms of a blog post having lots of retweets but very few comments, there may be something else at work: The blog post is purely howto and has no room for comments. For example, here’s how you create a YouTube channel. Thank you, not much to comment about here.

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Chris Garrett August 19, 2012 at 1:20 pm

I can understand that you were tempted to the dark side Tommy and I am glad you turned your back on it. The thing with people who lie/cheat/game is they often put in more effort to do something fake than it would take to do something legit. And legit is just better if you are thinking long term and actually want to be able to look people in the eye. Look at the engagement you got on this post :)

I used to hang out in SEO communities a few years back and there were always short term tricks you could use, but that’s all they were – short term and tricks. By the time they were being shared you could count on the PHD folks at Google being aware – after all, if I was hearing about it why not them? Why risk putting a target on your back? :)

Artificially inflating my clicks/views isn’t something that would help my business model so I haven’t really kept up to date with that world (I only make money when people actually want to hear what I have to say, heh). It does remind me of the tricks used a few years ago to get Digg stories to take off. You needed a certain amount of “activity” in a certain time frame for it to not completely collapse.

What ended up happening was people figured out how to game the system then made money getting useless “content” to go wild and get the site traffic. This basically killed the site (amongst other things). I think any system that allows this gaming to take place will kill itself.

While at the start of Digg/Delicious/etc we could write real content that got voted/bookmarked/shared, towards the end it got more and more difficult to get visibility unless you were part of the manipulation crowd, and that was when I got out. When popular sites were being auto-banned but useless spam was getting all the traffic you can see the lunatics have taken over the asylum :)

Apparently a lot of Facebook users are bots/fake/puppets. I do hope FB are on the ball with it and can see what happened to other sites that went before them.

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Tommy August 19, 2012 at 7:34 pm

Chris first off thanks for stopping by, and even better, thank you for giving a perfect example of a system that became utterly obliterated because of those who tried to game it.

To be perfectly honest, I think the social web as a whole could suffer the same fate if these types of tactics aren’t revealed and made common knowledge. People should be able to make informed decisions about what it is they’re doing, and in order to do that we must have all the information, that way we don’t fall victim like Jay Baer says to becoming lemmings. We need to be able to understand that our own instincts can betray us and learn to dig for the truth.

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Stacy August 19, 2012 at 8:04 pm

It’s interesting….think about SEO, for example. Up until recently, most businesses who were in extremely competitive niches were buying backlinks to their sites to increase their Google rankings.
Is that different?

If you get to someone’s site because of a shady backlink or spun article and end up buying because you need/want/like the product or service, does that make it okay?

And remember that in some niches (real estate, insurance, some health like weight loss, some marketing niches, etc) it’s almost impossible to get any business (if you’re relying on search) without “keeping up with the Joneses.”

Everything has started changing, though. I think we are turning into a more contextual economy – one that is based on where you are/who you are/what you do, like, or consume, etc – NOT based solely on who could buy the most backlinks or who had the most “creative” black hat SEOs working for them or who had the largest Adwords budget.

Anyway, I guess we’ll see!! There will always be people that game the system. It’s up to us to figure out what our values are and how that fits in to our business model….Some businesses need mass quantities of leads to make their business model work. I suppose when you’re treating people like numbers instead of like, um, PEOPLE, it gets easier to acquire them in the same fashion, you know?

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Tommy August 19, 2012 at 8:44 pm

I think the SEO analogy is a good one here, and that the technology is fighting back is always a good thing. Twitter for example will enforce the follow limit, and to my knowledge will try and distort any mass dms, but I’m not entirely certain.

Sadly, I’m not sure that the people with more money won’t always find a way to have more leverage, I think that’s just the way of the world, but I do look forward to a day where all social platforms stand less of a chance of being gamed…. Realistically though, do you think that could ever happen?

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Lorena August 19, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Interesting post, Tommy–I’m going to forward the link to my boss. NOT because this is something we’d do, but because it’s interesting. I work my TAIL off, as does the rest of the team, to grow organically, albeit sometimes by request–we recently wanted to reach a certain number of FB likes, told our existing fans, and hit our number in less than 10 hours after the request (and no, it hasn’t gone back down!). On my own site (my second job), I’m currently working out ways to increase my audience–which to me means finding ways to connect with people who want to hear what I have to say….and one look at my blog would make it clear I don’t “do” dark side. Suffice it to say I think the payoff isn’t great, and the ethics suck. So growth is slow, but it’s made in alignment with all that I value most, including honesty and creative energy. When it comes to SEO sorts of things, I approach that from the perspective of writing about things “my” people are going to want to hear, in language that (I hope) will attract more readers.

In my humble opinion :)

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Eugen Oprea August 20, 2012 at 3:37 am

Awesome stuff, Tommy!

I am glad that you brought this up, because I see a lot of this things happen and like other I am pondering whether I should continue to work my tail of or go on the dark side.

I would not be hard, but I won’t do it because it’s not worth it. I am working for results and this type or “results” are not results.

Just as you said, wow we did great, minus whatever we bought…

This happens a lot in SEO when I try to genuinely rank websites for what they are and what information they provide, but I always hit a wall when guys with thousands of paid links are #1 in Google. So should I go and buy those thousands of links or stay on the second page without getting any value?

In my opinion we need to find better ways to stop this guys gaming the system.

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John Paul August 20, 2012 at 9:57 am

Tommy great detail in what you did in the past man.

The good is you were smart enough to see something at work and you built a system around it.

The bad, is you took action with your new system lol

But hey, no one here is perfect, no one here can say they have built their blog or business 100% clean.

You did what you did for a client, and sometimes for a client we go that extra mile to bring them the goods.. not a bad thing man.

For me, I never pay for shares or game the system for shares since its a joke.

It’s like a hot chick that shake her shit all nite, then goes home and takes off her super push up bra and half inch of makeup. lol

Your faking the funk with yourself and that is never good man.

I agree with Johnny, that it sucks to bust my ass to write or produce good shit and bust my ass more to push that content out and bust my ass even more to be active and available on SM daily just to get results.

Then turn around and see some blogger doing 10% of the work I put in and getting the same shares.

Whats worse is people coming to his site and mine see no difference,, all they see are the numbers.

I like blogging 2-3 yrs back. If you got shares its because you earned them.

Shit it took me like 6 mnths of hard work to finally get to say 50 RTs a post. Yet today a new blog can go join a service and see the same 50 shares in a few days time.

It’s all a joke man.

All you can do is hope the people that get it will see thru the BS and realize who is real and who is gaming the system.

Now as far as comments to shares ratio.. I think it’s two different things.

One, people need good stuff to share, so they share stuff to help their message on SM sites. So their goal is more to share great shit and not so much to be part of the conversation.

Two, today people like to comment on SM sites instead. I have many people that will FB me or tweet me and say great post or add in their 2 cents. To them that is where they comment.. maybe because on twitter and Facebook you “seem” to be more available so they feel that its a better place to chit chat.

So having a lot of shares to small comments doesn’t bother me at all.

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Tommy August 20, 2012 at 10:10 am

Hey Paul thanks for jumping it!

I think it’s important to note with this musician, they weren’t really a client as they weren’t paying (which somehow justifies doing experimental things in my mind)

With my own stuff, I learned there was a balance when it came to gaming, but also that there was much less satisfaction in the wins because they were always tainted. I also realized that it became a very expensive and difficult to keep that monster under control.

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Stanford @ PushingSocial August 20, 2012 at 10:30 am

You reminded about Twitterfeed. 2 years ago I thought this tool was incredibly useful. I had bloggers that I wanted to support but didn’t have the time to read all of their posts. However, I believed they consistently published great stuff. Twitterfeed made it easy to retweet their stuff in my stream. I did give one incredibly blogger the boot because he started constantly publishing promotional content which turned my feed into an infomercial.

But today, prompted by your post, I turned off Twitterfeed. Not because it’s evil. Most of the talk about morals and ethics in social media is nonsensical. I turned it off because my role has changed. In the beginning I was just trying to be helpful. It was more important to fill my twitter stream with as much useful info as possible.

Now, I’m a curator, a filter, of information for my audience. So, even though I trust the folks loaded into twitter feed, I’m not servicing my readers by auto tweeting them. So, I’ve loaded each of the blogs into my Reader, assigned them to a daily read folder, and I will tweet them after I’ve read their posts.

Your post rocks because it created the prompt. Thanks

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Tommy August 20, 2012 at 10:52 am

Stanford that’s so awesome to hear! Being a true curator needs to have that human element, and I’m glad you’re bringing that back in because of this post.

I’m also happy for you’ve created a pretty high profile for yourself and an experience I had with a very popular blogger and twitterfeed.

A little while back I had turned off my twitterfeed for several bloggers because I hadn’t noticed any uptick in my own RTs, favorites, or shares, and out of the blue this popular blogger had emailed me to ask what service I used.

I was happy they even knew who I was, so I responded emphatically and asked them why they were asking…

…and they said…

We changed feed providers yesterday, and today your tweet didn’t go out.

The feed URL stayed the same, so I’m not sure what happened. Can you check and see if it’s reporting some sort of error?

Now this is after I had been ignored on guest post pitches, “hey take a look at this…” and all that other friendly social media stuff that this blogger teaches.

It felt like they were really just looking to have me part of their distribution network and wouldn’t consider anything else…

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Viktor Nagornyy August 20, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Just to be upfront, since I do want to play devil’s advocate on several points, I’ve never purchased social proof of any kind including backlinks.

This being said, you can’t start your car engine without a starter. Even your engine needs help getting started before you go from 0 to 60. So why can’t we have social proof starter to help get things going?

We’re social creatures, even online, we tend to follow the social crowd and share/comment on what other share and comment. That’s just natural, almost groupthink behavior. Especially when you try to compete with large websites that do have the audience to not worry about having a starter for their engine.

Buying views, likes, followers, etc. is fine to help get you started. But where it really becomes a problem when owners think that that’s all they need to do, they don’t need to stay connected with their audience, they don’t have to create good content, and they don’t have to do anything but buy followers and self-promote nonstop.

Sure the starter will get your engine started, but you do need to feed it gasoline in a form of actual people and customers. Otherwise it’ll die out.

Really, this is nothing new and happens in the real world too. If sales are down, companies buy advertising, run a PR stunt, or something related to get their sales up.

Advertising is as artificial as buying backlinks, followers, likes, etc. It’s just more accepted since it has been around the longest. You pay to get more business, period.

My 2 devil’s advocate cents.

I do everything organically for myself and my clients because 1. I don’t really want to spend my money on it, and 2. my clients ask for organic approach. Plus, I enjoy it.

My other 2 cents.

Viktor :)

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Mike August 20, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Sure it matters Tommy.
What you do is who you are.
And so is who you have with.

But . . . mistakes are allowed. We do get *do overs* quite often.

But I buy into the policy of *honest is the best policy.* But it’s a hard road to march on, especially if you don’t believe in Karma ; )

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Tommy August 20, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Here’s the thing I’m having trouble with though Mike… and perhaps even part of what’s behind the post here…

Of course there is a way to take manipulation too far and become greedy and consumed by the monster. Perhaps the argument can be made that the monster can never be kept at bay, but like Viktor said, even an engine needs to get kickstarted… if part of the process to get eyes could be considered borderline “Unethical” but those eyes are ultimately grateful they saw what they saw, than do the ends justify the means? Especially if nobody involved is getting hurt?

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Carrie Wilkerson, The Barefoot Executive August 20, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Buying likes/fans/followers is not awesome or organic.

I think (per previous poster) than emailing your list, direct messaging your friends, etc for VIEWS and reads is fine. That is why you have a list. A warm contact list that you can get onstage and say ‘hey, read what I published, watch what I produced or listen to what I recorded’ – whether they ‘like, review or share’ is up to them.

That is much like opening a restaurant and inviting folks with coupons or free meals so they will review, tell their friends, etc. I don’t have an issue with it.

Also similar to paying for ad space in a magazine to point folks to your sites, articles, etc. You are inviting the opportunity to view – not paying for ‘evidence of a view’ – some folks don’t see the difference, I guess.

But buying the social proof from like-farms is seedy and a sad way to game a system.

I was really sad when I flipped my blog from one domain to another recently and LOST all my organic social proof. Guess I could pay some robots to up those numbers again…but I think I’ll just stick to real people with real views in real time. Good conversation.

Thanks for inviting me to participate ;) *I received no compensation for doing so* lol

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Tommy August 20, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Carrie thank you for jumping in!

Though, I will have to say, even when asking some of the people who follow me on twitter to read this post, a couple went so far as to tell me I was “manipulating” by sending DMs, so it leaves me wondering how many share that sentiment.

Furthermore, anyone who isn’t a dipshit about automation could do something similar, if you’re paying for the program to do it for you, does it start to reach that line?

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Carrie Wilkerson, The Barefoot Executive August 20, 2012 at 4:05 pm

But if you’re paying a program to reach out to folks that haven’t already raised their hand to be on your list, your page, your follows, etc – then you are paying for cred. I’ve already established cred to my list, follows, friends, etc – so I’m just saying ‘i published, check it’ – not – ‘hey, i need 1000 likes’ – earning cred is different than buying cred.

My .02

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Tommy August 20, 2012 at 4:16 pm

See that I agree with, but I’m talking about paying the program to reach out to the people who already raised their hand. Those who are already following you. Is that underhanded, or is that just smart?

And what if they follow you simply because you follow them?

That’s really what I’m talking about I think.

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Lisa Kalner Williams August 20, 2012 at 3:16 pm

I’m not here to judge you — esp. in a public forum. (I’ll leave that to other folks.) But I’ve seen what you’ve described before in the Quest For The Like.

Consider the large company who hosts iPad giveaways without any qualifying data and consequently gets a huge boost in Facebook page likes but then wonders why the rise in numbers haven’t converted to sales. Or a small business who pays a certain Website five dollars in exchange for a thousand fans but soon after gets bummed that no one responds to their posts.

While the first example doesn’t raise any ethical issues (except for the ignorance of Apple’s restrictions on third party promotions), it is akin to the second example because both have a myopic pursuit of the page like. And both result in unqualified fans who have little, if any, interest in what the page is selling.

You won’t be the first one to inflate numbers — and you won’t be the last. But you’ll keep on keeping on.

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Tommy August 20, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Thanks for jumping in Lisa!

To be honest, I think what we’re talking about here is a little bit different though.

Like I said in the beginning of the article, if done well, you’ll never know the difference. Buying “likes” on facebook and wondering why noone is interacting is an amateurs game. What we’re talking about (in a facebook example anyways) is buying a bunch of facebook likes, but then also manufacturing interaction to give the appearance of a lively page to anyone who jumps in.

Let’s look at a different type of platform (I’ll cover this in the follow up) like say a forum. Two users go about the forum, answering questions, being productive members of said forum until one day, they link to a post and have a huge disagreement over the contents of one article.

They yell at each other back and fourth, causing the thread to always be at the top of the forum and everyone else in the place watches like it’s a school yard fight. They’re also clicking over to the link to see what all the fuss is about, and forming their own opinion and stepping into the argument.

BUT… those two forum users, who seemingly have no connection to anything, are actually BOTH the owner of the site creating drama to drive traffic back to their post and make more sales… see what I mean?

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Frank Angelone August 20, 2012 at 5:23 pm

This was very intriguing to read about for sure, Tommy. While I figured these types of actions had to be going on, it’s shocking to see how easy it is to duplicate. While it’s not the ethical way to go about something, it doesn’t discount the fact that it works, but like you said your reputation can be damaged from it. Personally, the best example I would say that relates to this is the use of the FeedBurner chicklet on blogs. The little “stat” builder is probably the most inaccurate tracker online and the numbers constantly fluctuate, yet you’ll see popular blogs showcasing their subscriber number just to get more people to subscribe. There stats may read “3,000 subscribers” when in reality they have 100. I must agree and say I’m more likely to tune into a site that stats seem impressive, yet I don’t really realize what’s actually going on behind the scenes.

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Tommy August 20, 2012 at 5:33 pm

I appreciate your honesty about that Frank :-) (You’re not alone either, we all do it)

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Pamela Wilson August 20, 2012 at 6:53 pm

I didn’t even know you could do this kind of thing — that’s how out of touch I am with “the dark side.”

I can see why it’s tempting. Social proof is so public nowadays, and our successes and failures are on display for all to see.

But how can people feel good about what they accomplish with their businesses if their success is based on tactics like this? Who are they really fooling?

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Tommy August 20, 2012 at 10:04 pm

I could tell you about several six figure businesses that have done this and more manipulative tactics that go completely under the radar because they’re very very smart about how they go about it.

So, they’re really fooling the people who bought their products, and because these products became popular under false pretenses, it very well could have been you and me both they were fooling.

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Dennis Keefe August 20, 2012 at 9:54 pm

As a blogger myself, I believe in doing your best to put out good content. My numbers are very low and very little comments appear on my posts, but I blog about what I am passionate about and that’s what matters to me. I would love to have more followers and more popularity, but I would never be willing to utilize one of the methods you have described.

I do however understand what provoked you to begin using these tactics. Sometimes it just taked a little boost to get the ball rolling. I’m sure that the fact that it was working made it easier to seek out and try new and more productive tactics.

However, I don’t hold this against you and thought that this was a great post. Keep up the great work!

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Tommy August 21, 2012 at 9:59 am

Putting your best into good content is where it starts. You should always have a good product first, no doubt about that. The problem comes in when your good content is mentally discredited because it doesn’t have the high share count that should be associated with a good piece of work.

Yet, the lower quality article has higher views, so in a voting democracy, that one must be better right?

Like Brian Brolin said in his comment a few days ago, it creates a totally uneven playing field where those who aren’t doing it get overlooked because the manipulation plays on the very common “bigger is better” mindset that is embedded into all humans.

The fact that it worked for me wasn’t a surprise, nor was it tempting to go further with it. What ultimately made it not work was when someone else decided to push it further than necessary (or in other words they got greedy)

But like Anakin Skywalker learned, there’s no such thing as using just a little of the Dark Side, which is why I decided it wasn’t worth it.

What gets me is that right now the verdict is still out on whether this post is coming from the Light side or the Dark Side.

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Mars Dorian August 20, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Damn, man, looking at all the big name commentators here – this thing is causing quite the commotion. But that’s what happens if you post something candid and controversial – ha.
It’s such a difficult topic to wander through – and it comes in more than 50 shades of grey ;)

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Phil Gerbyshak August 21, 2012 at 11:35 pm

I’ve been thinking about this since you published it. It makes me sad – and a little angry – to think this happens. It doesn’t surprise me in the least.

Is buying likes an accelerant for growth? Your research shows yes. But could I sleep at night if I did it – probably not very well.

As Carrie mentions – informing your list is one thing. Buying numbers is another.

Sadly, it will likely always be the case, because people are people, and this is more an art than a science – and scamming is always one step ahead of ethics. Sad but true.

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Tommy August 22, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Believe me Phil, it makes me sad too (though I bought views, not likes) and even though the research says “Yes.” my conscious says “It’s not worth it.”

You’re right, ultimately you have to be able to sleep with yourself at night. Even though it was easy it wasn’t worthy.

What makes me angry is that people use far worse tactics than this and take them too far.

For some, they genuinely do provide value, but others use these methods to perform (what I consider) pure evil, hucking low priced wares to unsuspecting people. People who blame themselves for not “getting it” That is why I decided to write about this here, because people need to inform themselves for this to not happen any more.

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Lisa Tener August 22, 2012 at 9:05 pm

I’d have to say it does make a difference. There’s what’s right and there’s the slippery slope of justifying “tricks.” The more people on the web justify these tricks the more: 1) Customers lose faith in us all 2) Customers especially lose faith in those they realize are scamming 3) One ends up justifying even worse actions (or ends up with an “error” like you had where a staff member took a dishonest method another step. Thanks for sharing this honest and thought provoking discussion.

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Tommy August 22, 2012 at 9:40 pm

You’re absolutely right Lisa, and what I learned from an ultimately short and unprofitable experience is that if you’re gaming the system, you either have to keep it all to yourself, or you have to align yourself with other people who are ok with cheating.

So you either torture yourself, or you’re close with people who are going to be far more comfortable with more complicated scams.

Either way, it’s no good.

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Cori Padgett August 24, 2012 at 11:15 pm

I think I kind of have to lean with Mars on this a bit. Ultimately your blog, biz, whatever is yours, and you can run it htf you want to run it. As long as what you’re doing doesn’t cause harm to others, you have the right to make your own choices.

Ultimately it only you that has to live with them and if you can sleep at night skating a line of ethics then that’s your call. Does it make what you do right or honest? Probably not but if you’re ok with that you’re ok with that. Some people are built honest. Some are built dishonest.

Some are built a mix of the two (we will call them curious), and they have to toe the line and see how it feels for them, then pick a lane. I’ve experimented as I’ve learned, and ultimately I’ve learned I can’t do what everyone else thinks is best or “right” I have to do what “I” think us best or right.

Do I thinking buying likes or something is “wrong”? Not particularly. Do I think it’s effective? Not even a little. For me there are much more effective ways of marketing and promoting, and most folks learn what works well for them based in experimentation, testing, and discarding what sucks or doesn’t suck, what feels good and doesn’t feel good.

Woo. Hope this is readable, typed all on my iPhone. BOOM! Hehe

Ps.. Sorry I’m late to the party.. I rarely check DMs. @ me or email me, that’s always better. :)

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Ian M Rountree September 4, 2012 at 12:56 pm

This… Is a challenging question. To an extent it feels like MAD (Mutually Assured Demoralization); no one sees the real numbers, so no one has any confidence in the power that volume of numbers could have.

I’ve found clients are happier when I can report a real 10% gain (from 100 to 110 views of a site or page) over a given period, than a large flat number that never really changes. To this extent, purchasing views – especially disproportionately large volumes of them – always seemed like a blind. Other numbers can look much more impressive, especially graphed over time.

And isn’t that the end game? Gain over time, rather than average pageviews or tweets? I’d rather see a nice hockey-stick shaped chart at any scale than a flat line up in the sky any day.

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Tommy September 7, 2012 at 12:51 pm

See that’s the problem Ian, is that when you’re purchasing views or doing an auto-refresh, you can still keep track of what you’ve purchased – subtract the fake stuff – and chart the real growth.

My dilemma was (not now, I’ve made my choice) was that when the fake views (the control) were added in, the legitimate stats shot up like the hockey stick. But when left to their own devices, flat lined and plateaued like you were talking about.

Ultimately, my decision is to ignore that though, because I want to have a total feeling of accomplishment when it comes to actual growth. I don’t like the idea of building long term relationships with customers or viewers under false pretenses.

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raja patel August 2, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Buying likes/fans/followers isn’t awe-inspiring or organic.

I think (per previous poster) than emailing your list, direct electronic messaging your friends, etc for VIEWS and reads is ok. that’s why you have got a listing. A heat contact list that you simply will get onstage and say ‘hey, browse what I revealed, watch what I made or hear what I recorded’ – whether or not they ‘like, review or share’ is up to them.

That is very like gap a eating place and alluring of us with coupons or free meals in order that they can review, tell their friends, etc. I don’t have a problem with it.

Also almost like paying for ad area during a magazine to purpose of us to your sites, articles, etc. you’re invitatory the chance to look at – not paying for ‘evidence of a view’ – some of us don’t see the distinction, I guess.

But shopping for the social proof from like-farms is seedy and a tragic thanks to game a system.

I was extremely unhappy once I flipped my web log from one domain to a different recently and LOST all my organic social proof. Guess I may pay some robots to up those numbers again…but i believe I’ll simply keep on with real folks with real views in real time. smart language.
thanks…

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  • Tommy Walker

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