Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Let's not kid ourselves about social media

You've seen it, the "like and share if" memes, articles and other links that have become more prevalent on social media. Whether it's pitbulls, kittens, disabled people or even memorial pages for Sandy Hook, there's always someone looking to make a buck.

I've had people ask me how it is possible for a page to make money this way. First off, Facebook pays nothing but if you have a page with 500,000 and you post links to a site that has ads on it, money can be made from the volume of traffic and/or advertisement clicks. It's really simple. Take a recycled meme like the one that led you here, slap a link on it and get as many people to share it as possible. You get more "likes" for your page, which builds your audience, and eyes on an article, like this one.

Even legitimate businesses have found that it is easier and cheaper to run contests telling their subscribers to like and share a photo to win something, instead of paying for advertising. When you think about it, it makes good business sense. Why pay Facebook for promotion when you can get it for free? Why run print ads or TV slots when you can get your product featured on social media for nothing?

There's the complete nonsense pages which often say something like "if I get one million likes, my daughter will stop smoking" or "one million likes against cancer" and so on. Sure, there's some legit ones but there's many that aren't. Often, once a page has reached a certain number of fans, it's sold off to someone else who then fills your feed with links to weight loss referrals, free iPhone survey scams and so on.

Then there's the political pages. You've probably read my rants about them in the past. Those are run by people create a page around a political view or viral event, and then get as many people to "like" it as possible. Take a political quote, slap it on an image, stick a referral link back to your page and voila! you're a Facebook activist.

Pages promoting other pages? Chances are, they're owned by the same collective and trying to make sure they get maximum viewership. Behind the scenes, there's constant bickering over images, sharing and so on. Remember the recent blowup between Americans Against The Tea Party and We Survived Bush, You Will Survive Obama? That was about control over a page that was sold to someone who wanted to push more of their articles. It's not about activism and making a difference, it's become about pushing shitty articles to pad a bank account, in the name of activism.

Regardless of where your beliefs lie, believe you me, there's people ready to cater to your views and make money from it. That's just the way it is. Right, left or other, a lot of it is to make some cash.

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