Whether for profits or popularity, the social web seems to be obsessed with celebrity and brand fan, friend and follower counts. We have (and will continue) to profile Facebook pages that have earned their high counts through clever marketing, keeping their ears to the conversations of their customers and creating great user destinations. This morning, on the other hand, we saw a press release from uSocial telling us that for Facebook fame all you need is cash.
Our sister blog, All Facebook, reported back in November that uSocial received a cease and desist from Facebook for violating the company’s terms of service for selling fans and friends. uSocial touts this — almost as a badge of honor — in today’s release; we were unable to find any official information on the order’s resolution. Another company that offered Facebook connections for a price appears to have vaporized.
Commenting on Lady Gaga achieving 14 million fans, uSocial states, “While the pop starlet probably needs no assistance boosting her fan numbers, one company is now selling anyone the ability to achieve the same dizzying levels of stardom on Facebook, providing of course they have the cash to throw around.” It was just three weeks ago that there were several media reports of uSocial snitching on Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, Barack Obama and, yes, Lady Gaga for artificially inflating their Twitter follower count. (By the way — uSocial will sell you Twitter followers, too.) There is no evidence that these allegations are true.
They way uSocial can offer you 1000 “real, targeted Facebook fans” for only $197 or 100,000 for just under $5000 is described in their FAQ. “How we do this is by using our vast network on (sic) partners on Facebook, which allows us to boradcast (sic) information about your page or profile to literally millions of Facebook users. When we do this, your profile will be put in front of the eyes of tens of thousands of people in your industry or interest group, meaning you’ll get traffic and sign-ups to your page.”
There are no user testimonials on uSocial’s website. And a Google search reveals a few who describe uSocial as a scam. We called and e-mailed uSocial, but did not have a response from them in time for this post. If you know anyone who has benefited from the services of companies like uSocial, ask them to get in touch — we are interested in their stories.
Fan and follower count is only one element of a successful social media presence. Artificial count inflation is like Botox — you feel better about yourself, but your true “friends” know it’s not real and the benefits are temporary. The measures of social media success are community, engagement and brand loyalty — these are earned, not acquired with a high-limit Visa card.