Thursday, September 17, 2009

Buying Facebook Friends – uSocial and Social Media ROI

(Photo courtesy of CloudAve.com)

Social media has never been about the number of followers you have. It’s about the relationship and interaction you have with your followers. However, According to AdAge, Australian based uSocial.net is trying to convince you otherwise.

USocial is already famous for selling votes on such popular social bookmarking websites as Digg.com and StumbleUpon.com. They also sell Twitter followers ($87 for 1000, $147 for 2500, all the way up to $3479 for 100,000).

Adage reports that uSocial is now selling Facebook friends…yes, you can buy “friendship” now.

What I find most interesting, is that uSocial attempts to put a value around each follower. According to uSocial:

Traditional ROI

(Net Profit / Total Investment) x 100

BNET.com gives the example: If net profit is $30 and the total invested is $250, the Return on Investment is:

30 / 250 = 0.12 × 100 = 12%

Social Media ROI

(Net Profit directly related to social media / Total Investment in Social Media) x 100 = Social Media ROI

OR

(Net Profit directly related to social media) / (# of followers) = Net Profit per Follower

Social Media ROI and USocial

Where uSocial goes wrong, is that they are confusing subjective or potential ROI with actualized ROI. Olivier Blanchard of The BrandBuilder eloquently explains: “If I’m going to invest money in, I want to get money out. Currency is not variable.” The ‘R’ in ROI is based off of a monetary value. If a company is going to invest money into their social media marketing strategy (their ‘I”), then they need to see a monetary return (the R). The return cannot be based off of potential or subjective numbers. It doesn’t matter how many followers you have, how many fans you have, or how many sales you think will directly correlate to your social media marketing efforts. The only thing that matters is your actualized return – money you have already gotten back on your investment. A financial investment demands a financial return. (For a great vid on ROI check out The BrandBuilder's video here).

Let’s take a closer look at that social media ROI equation. Let’s say that you purchase 1000 “friends” for $1000 from USocial. These “friends” aren’t actually doing anything. They aren’t passing along your message. They aren’t interacting with your brand. They are just a number, therefore you will never see an actualized return from them. Given that $1000 investment in “friends” from uSocial and knowing that you will never see an actualized return from them, the ROI equation looks like this:

$0 / ($1000) x 100 = $0 Social Media ROI

$0 / 1000 friends = $0/friend (not $1/month like USocial boasts)

Until buying followers or friends from uSocial actually realizes a monetary return, it is completely worthless. When buying from uSocial, all you are getting is a number, not an actual customer or relationship.

What are your thoughts around buying followers and friends through uSocial and its implication on your ROI?

--Now Let Me Clear My Throat—

Josh Groth

1 comment:

Mike Crosson said...

Nicely written, well argued! I'm surprised there are not a lot more comments on this.

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