Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Juking the Stats

Are our social media gurus Juking the Stats?

Read On:
The expression Juking the Stats was made popular by David Simon, creator/writer of the highly successful HBO series, The Wire. Simon believes America is populated by people willing to manipulate the system, make whatever they are doing appear right to achieve their goals.

I am still learning when it comes to social media. Thanks to working with companies that are just beginning to formulate their social media movements, I have disciplined myself to research and experiment in this new media world on a regular basis. Candidly, I sometimes feel overwhelmed when I filter through all the information/data. However, I do concur with all the self-proclaimed experts (a.k.a. social media gurus) that we all need to listen first, act second. Listening equates to finding/building your community. I believe building a community requires hard work and you build an engaged community one member at a time. Others believe in loading the numbers or Juking the Stats. Let me share:

· Consultants are beginning to use third-party software to increase their client’s number of followers like uSocial for Twitter. The more followers you have, the more people instantly know what your business is about or do they? Better yet, are the followers in your target market?

· Rewarding fans for “liking” a brand on Facebook has become common practice. In my industry Einstein Bagels offered a free bagel to new fans. In three days their community exploded from 4,700 to 350,000 fans. Is this a prudent way to recruit an authentic fan base long-term? A recent ExactTarget Study on How and Why Facebook Users Interact with Brands revealed that 39% friend a brand to show support for a company; 40% do so to receive discounts or promotions; 36% to get a “freebie.”

· Be on the alert for Mommy Bloggers who have been recruited to be
Brandies and become a Facebook fan. Recently I was monitoring a pizza chain restaurant that offered fans a free gift card if 100,000 signed up by October 31st. By the middle of October, I realized they were falling short of their goal. Then I began to read on their Facebook page that people indicated that the Brand Ambassador or sent me; each new fan was welcomed. Out of curiosity I drilled down and discovered two Mommy Bloggers that posted a contest on their sites, enter to win $25 if you became a fan of the chain. Authentic? Faux? Your call.

· Beware of “Black Hats,” search engine optimization (SEO) tactics that are designed to achieve higher search rankings in an unethical manner – keyword stuffing or using hidden text or links.

Are you honestly building your social media community one member at a time or
Juking the Stats?


  1. Jimmy,

    Points well made. Today, almost everything that can be measured can be "influenced" by those that want to score higher or best.

    Reality is quality vs. quantity. Some Hollywood stars have over 1M twitter followers. Would you trade that for 1,000 loyal followers who responded to your tweets?

    A small, quality built community is more powerful and useful than an amorphous number built by gaming the system.

  2. I am a bit conflicted. I don't argue your points, but do argue with Bob's comments above. Creating a large following will only work if you CONTINUE to provide them with genuine value consistently. Its just as easy to UN-LIKE as it is to LIKE on FB, so w/o a regular stream of good content, your FANS will disappear. Some marketers get this...most do not. (BTW, I LOVED your pop reference to the WIRE. Indeed they made the phrase main-stream)

  3. Bob/Tom:

    Thank you for your comments. I think we are all on the same page, quality over quantity, thus quality content leads to quality engagement over time, then hopefully to quality leads, acquistion and retention.


  4. Excellent obsevations as always. I am still trying to fnd my way through the maze of social media permeated by the fear created by all the solicitations I receive that I may be missing the boat.
    Nice to know I have company in the "still trying to make sense of it all" camp.
    Thanks Jim!

  5. Someone said, "would you prefer to have 5000 friends on facebook, or just one - Oprah?"

  6. Kathy: Like the use of the word maze. I am by no means a social media guru, but I am a business catalyst trying to jump start the foodservice industry that the world of marketing is morphing.

    Spencer: Thank you for checking in. I hope your interviews are going well Oprah is the Queen Bee.

    Thank you both for your readership.

  7. First of all, I love The Wire reference. I think to some degree, everybody jukes the stats. People and businesses alike want to portray an image that does not neccessarily reflect reality. In some cases this can be unethical or illegal (in the case of Enron) but most of the time we do it to keep up a socially acceptable image. In the world of social media, its having many friends and followers. While your actual influence and loyalty may be minimal, the image is that you have a lot of people following so you must be important. If everyone else has 1000 followers, than my measly 200 or even 20 followers doesn't seem to be worth anything.

    The truth, which is not as easily transparent is that those few followers may be high quality and very loyal while the thousands of followers are merely in it for the free bagel.

    I think it is ok to try and increase traffic with one promotion as long as you continue to engage those people to build true brand loyalty.

    Is it even possible to remain completely authentic?

  8. Jessica:

    Free bagel via FB promotion I can understand, but in response to your last line re: authenticity, I think it depends on the platform, so when it comes to LinkedIn and sustainable networkers that value quality vs. quantity, those that are authentic will be the winners, while the rest will lose interest and drop out since they are situational: "what is in it for me."