"Follower Factory" New York Times Piece Shows in Marketing, as in Politics, Be Wary of Those Offering Easy Answers
The recent New York Times feature "The Follower Factory" on a company selling Twitter followers highlights that many "social media gurus" aren't any better at generating influence than your average person. The article is well worth the read, but one part really stands out:
Jeetendr Sehdev, a former adjunct professor at the University of Southern California who calls himself “the world’s leading celebrity branding authority,” began buying hundreds of thousands of fake followers from Devumi.
He did not respond to requests for comment. But in his recent best-selling book, “The Kim Kardashian Principle: Why Shameless Sells,” he had a different explanation for his rising follower count. “My social media following exploded,” Mr. Sehdev claimed, because he had discovered the true secret to celebrity influence: “Authenticity is the key.”
I saw another marketing professor focus on this passage as well. It's both hilarious and shameful at the same time. Yes, authenticity is a factor in online influence. But, it's far from the only factor. But, if you want to start breaking out the dozens of factors generating online influence, well, then your story becomes a lot more tiring to followers, prospects, clients and publishers. Better just to buy a bunch of fake followers and say "Look at me, I'm an influencer!"
Too often in marketing, as in life, we find the the simplest solutions are the most persuasive. But the truth is, persistent problems--whether it's peace in the Middle East or marketing your company--persist because they are difficult to solve. If there was a single key to solving these problems, we would all have solved them. Like a fad diet plan, marketing books and consulting pitches become less persuasive the more you confront the truth: Marketing is a complex problem and continual process that requires time, money and effort. Full stop. End of story.