Fake Social Media: More Common Than You Think

Since we last discussed the issue of fake social media followings, some of our competitors have gotten even worse, falling into the 50% to 90% fake follower and friend range on Twitter and Facebook. On the surface, this seems harmless. Unfortunately they often sell marketing outreach as part of their services, and if the majority of their social media following is either purchased or inactive, they may be perpetrating a fraud, which is both unethical and illegal. And if a company is willing to promote a fake social media base, how else might they be deceiving their clients?

See our earlier article on why you should never use a fake social media following.

Fake social media followings are primarily composed of dummy accounts in non-English-speaking nations. These will do absolutely nothing to promote your business. Both Twitter and Facebook are well aware of the problem and attempt to crack down on the practice, but they simply cannot keep up with the pace of people who either sell or buy social media followings. Even the highest ranking people in the nation employ some level of fake social media.

Here are easy ways to spot a useless social media following:

Analyze the Account – A number of free tools are available, such a TwitterAudit for Twitter accounts and LikeAnalyzer for Facebook pages, that will provide measurements of fake social media followers. There are many other free options on the Internet. Try a few. You will be astounded by the results produced by some of your favorite companies, celebrities, and service providers.

Unbalanced Following-to-Follower Ratio – Twitter is built on reciprocity, which means that most of the people who follow you are followed back in return by you. The same goes for “likes” on Facebook, although this is much more difficult to track. Since Twitter is superior for marketing (i.e. Facebook is superior for customer interaction), check the following-to-follower ratio of a prospective business. A healthy Twitter account has about an 80% or better following-to-follower ratio. This means that the account is following almost as many people who follow the account. If you see many followers and few accounts followed in return, look closer at what this person or account is doing.

Few Number of Impressions or Reaches – Twitter activity is often gauged by the number of impressions a post garners, while Facebook is measured by the number of people reached. Often this data is internal to the account holder, but there are a number of aftermarket metrics to determine these values. Another way to gauge social media viability is through the number of likes and retweets on Twitter and the number of likes and shares on Facebook, although these speak more to furthering outreach than relevance to their initial social media base.

The questionable practice of employing a fake social media following falls into the “snake oil” category, recalling the days when charlatans circled the country with magic elixirs that claimed to cure all ills. The Internet is proving to be more like the Wild West than we ever knew. Hiring a fake social media following can be more than a waste of time. It can be dangerous to your limited marketing budget, and it puts into question everything the account holder does as a company.

See why the US Review of Books is different than many other review publications.

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Customer Service Always Matters

Recently our website home page was wiped clean when the monolith that hosts our business website had technical issues. In the digital world, issues occasionally arise, but when we requested a very simple restore operation (i.e. the placement of a single HTML file: our home page), we were given a ticket number and told that it would be solved in 24 to 48 hours. I don’t know a single business that appreciates being shutdown for a day or two. At 4am we discovered that their problem was fixed, but our website was left in disarray. The promises made to restore our website were forgotten, as well as the promise to notify us when the solution was implemented. In fact, we’re still waiting for the notification. Thank you for a job so poorly executed.

How a company reacts in crisis often reveals its business emphasis: people vs. profit.

The US Review of Books never forgets that it deals with people—most specifically authors who take their books very seriously. Like our web host, the US Review help line is open virtually twenty-four hours per day. On the other hand, we work quickly to resolve issues in an effective manner. Typically it’s a simple misunderstanding or an easy fix. Sometimes it’s a customer who wants specific rewording of their book review and the issue becomes stickier. With any issue, our editors work through a specific set of guidelines to solve the problem as fast as possible and leave the client satisfied. By the way, our web host has never fumbled a billing cycle.

Good customer service involves taking care of the whole as well as the individual.

In the larger picture, the US Review provides professional unbiased book reviews. Our thousands of monthly readers rely on that. To accomplish this, our writers are carefully screened, vetted, and run through a trial review. Like any publication we have a specific style and guidelines. This not only encompasses the summary and critique breakdown of each review, but it includes methods for delivering criticism, which must be aimed at the book—not the author—with clear example and/or focused commentary. Some writers cannot write criticism without being nasty and are quickly shown the door. We have no place for this in our publication. We can make our point without impugning the author.

Focused listening resolves issues.

When an issue arises, there is often subtext to the conversation. At the US Review, our editors understand that the problem isn’t always as stated by the client. While every review we write mentions what the author does well, maybe the author believed that hiring us for a book review automatically returned unfettered praise. Sometimes the author has never had a book reviewed before, which can be startling when insightful third-party examination appears for the first time. From time to time, the author merely desires a different pull quote, which is easy to accommodate. For any issue, the solution is never cookie-cutter or one-size-fits-all.

A quick resolution inspires confidence.

Whether it’s an actual issue that needs to be fixed or a need to better understanding the situation, it is our objective to achieve a polite and speedy resolution. When an author is unhappy, our editors are unhappy. When there are no problems on the board, which is most often, our workday is finished. Caring about individual circumstances makes for a healthier publication as a whole. It also creates return customers.

While we hope that issues never arise, entirely smooth sailing is an unrealistic expectation for any business. At the US Review of Books, we understand that the author is as important as the review of his/her book, and we’re willing to stake our reputation on it.