Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Faking Success in the New Economy

I often like to poke fun at the "New Economy" as the buying and selling of "nothing" (e.g.: "unlimited" talk, text and data) but we have reached a new level of non-productivity with firms selling fake popularity on social media sites.  The Associated Press posted an article yesterday about so-called "click farms" where people are paid to simply "like" things on Facebook, "retweet" and "favorite" things on Twitter or "view" videos on YouTube.

The idea is to make your business, website, band or "celebrity brand" appear to be more popular than it really is.  That's right, you can now buy "popularity" (I know what all of you former high school nerds are thinking: "where was this when I was in school?").  The premise is based on the "new economic reality" that "success" in business isn't so much about putting actual money in the till--but rather, making it look like you are doing well.

The AP article sites an example from the music industry--where bands and artists artificially boosted the number of video views on YouTube to court record labels to sign them.  And here I thought the music industry only cared about whether a female artist had big enough ahem "lungs" to look good in a video--or that a band actually sounded good when they performed.  But today, all you need is a lot of "fake popularity" on the internet and someone is apparently willing to give you a contract.

The article goes on to mention large corporations that have even bought Facebook likes--because having "too few" can make it look like you are terrible and nobody wants to buy your product.  Heaven forbid you actually produce a high-quality good or service that people are demanding--and putting cash in your pocket for--instead of going to a website just to click "like".  There are plenty of popular places here in Oshkosh of which I am not a fan--and there are places that have no Facebook page to "like" that I frequently visit.

To add insult to injury, it turns out that many of these "click farms" are located overseas--in Bangladesh and Indonesia.  No wonder today's recent college graduates who specialized in "Social Media Integration" can't find jobs--they have all been outsourced to people willing to click a mouse for less than a penny per "like"! 

I have an idea on how to make the "New Economy" more like the "Old Economy" that supported more jobs and provided more income for workers.  How about instead of just "liking" a business--which the last time I checked doesn't make anyone any money--we actually buy what they are selling, and let them be "successful" where it really counts: on the bottom line.

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