fake blogging

WTF? Friday: Why Fake it When You Can Have the Real Thing?

By Communications, Social Media

Today’s post is brought to you by Ken Mueller, the owner of Inkling Media, a Social Media and marketing company in Lancaster, PA.

You just can’t fake some things.WTF?

The other day I saw one of my friends post on Twitter:

NEWS FLASH: Fake tans don’t look real

And he’s right. You can spot a fake tan a mile away. A fake tan screams, “I’m vain and I was nowhere near the beach!”

Same with toupees.

Is it more embarrassing to go bald and show the world, or try to cover it up with a piece of “processed hair matter” that screams, “If I were bald you MIGHT look at me, but NOW you can’t take your eyes off of me and the monstrosity on my head, can you???”

Like any great marketing, they grab your attention, but for all the wrong reasons. People can see through fake. Fake might work for a while, but eventually you will be found out.

What does faking it look like in Social Media?

Claiming to be something you’re not – your credentials can be Googled, and what you say about yourself can be either confirmed or denied by those you have known over the years. And the more you share online, the more people can tell if you have no clue what you are talking about.

Claming to NOT be something you are – You’ve read the reviews on Yelp where you just know that the glowing review was written by the mother or spouse of the restaurant owner, or it might actually be an employee pretending to be a happy customer. On the other side, I’ve seen horrible reviews that just feel as if they were written by the competition. Don’t do it.

Astroturfing – This is when businesses create fake profiles of individuals who then comment on their blogs, Facebook pages, etc.. The idea is that you are “seeding” conversation, and making it look like you have a larger following than you do. This will bite you in the butt big time if you are ever caught…and odds are, you will be caught.

Don’t be stupid. You can try to fake things, but it’s very likely you’ll be found out, and the damage done can be pretty bad. Be real. Be who you are. By all means, filter yourself, but don’t try to give people the wrong impressions.

Sure we can beat the words “authenticity” and “transparency” to death, but they are incredibly important. It’s like signing up for a dating site and posting a picture of a beautiful man or woman, and claiming to be much younger than you are. That game only goes so far. Eventually you’ll have to go on a date and it will be obvious you’re lying.

Faking it never works. Well…almost never…



Seven Reasons to Keep it Real in Social Media

By Social Media

There is an element to the culture of the social web that is so evident to those that have been a part of it for more than a few years. That element is authenticity. It’s important to understand it and as a business realize that your brand is better represented by human beings than fictional characters. In fact, that is what has differentiated the social web and propelled it to stardom . . . real stories and real people telling them.

The practice of fake blogging, for instance, is so reviled that it has earned its own pejorative: astroturfing. It’s such a big deal that three years ago the Washington Post reported about European laws that make it a crime to falsely represent oneself online.

And still, companies new to blogging or social media engagement, innocent of knowledge of the intricacies of engaging in the online space, stray far too close to the line in false representation. The ways I most frequently see this happening are with the development of fictional characters — which isn’t a crime — it’s just not effective. In addition, these fictional characters or the business itself is established with a profile on Facebook as if it were a person, rather than creating a page for the business.

In case your company is considering the creation of a character or fictionalizing the representation of your business, consider these seven reasons to keep it real in social media:

  1. Authenticity is respected, now more than ever. Nothing earns respect faster than someone who steps forward and owns up quickly, particularly in the case of a mistake or an issue.
  2. Lack of authenticity can damage your company’s reputation. Is it forgivable? Yes. Better yet, don’t fake it in the first place.
  3. People connect with other people. People, as much as some of them may wish to do so, cannot connect on a human level with a cartoon dog, a ball of yarn or a dancing baby. While these things are cute, a true two-way relationship cannot be achieved.
  4. Fictional characters don’t translate in real life. How’s your logo or your cartoon dog going to show up at a Tweetup?
  5. If resources are limited (and really, where aren’t they?) then focus the time and effort of your people to personally engage in social media on behalf of your business. That engagement is more valuable than the time they might spend behind the scenes engaging behind the front of a cute graphic.
  6. Social media engagement is largely about fostering two-way communication. This is much easier if both sides of that communication can see and hear one another, and human faces are involved on both ends.
  7. If you’ve been engaging as real, human beings and heaven forbid, you end up in a crisis situation, you will have already created and maintained real relationships with your community in a first-name, face-recognition basis and so what happened to BP on Twitter cannot happen to you.

Keep it real, people.