What’s in a Number?

Recently, I have been seeing a lot of this type of stuff in my feed, and it’s time to cut this shit out.

At some point in the past, some “internet marketing guru” claimed that a great way to boost fans and followers on social media was by offering them a small prize for specific milestones. At the time this began to be fashionable, it was done a little more subtly than the example above. 

And it worked. 

But, what did it prove, exactly? That people could be bought for small amounts, and you could artificially inflate your numbers.

And yet, companies as large as Pepsi do this kind of crappy routine on a semi-regular basis. In the example above, they decided 3000 was a nice number to get to. But WHY?

This type of promotion is based on an old-school one (the 1 000 000th customer at the grocery store/bank/etc.) but those types of promotions remembered the fundamental thing these Facebook numbers race promos forgot: PEOPLE power these promotions.

In the case of the  1 000 000th bank customer, the other people turning up to the bank would start talking to one another, and most likely the bank arranged for some type of entertainment, or free donuts, or something to bolster the excitement they were trying to incite.

Now let’s go back to the “become our 3000th fan” example. What, other than a gift card is being offered to bolster the excitement? Is there even a conversation being entered into?

BL Ochman posted a brilliant takedown of GM’s unilateral “getting out of Faceboook ads” proclamation, where she listed some great examples of conversation NON-starters which the brand had posted recently. What was “in it” for the end users there? Some of the updates didn’t even enable you to post a comment, as they were dead end comments. 

It seems trite, but it bears repeating: IF YOU WOULDN’T DO IT OR SAY IT TO SOMEONE IN FRONT OF YOU, DON’T DO IT ONLINE.

In Salad King’s case, why was 3000 so important to them? Even knowing this might have been interesting to their fanbase (although, “let’s beat Liberty Noodle” is still a flimsy premise, and I don’t recommend it.)

The point is whether it’s 3000, 30 000, or 3 million, it doesn’t matter if there is no conversation or meaningful engagement happening. 

Let’s make a pact to cut this shit out.

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