Hillary Clinton was a lawyer during Watergate, a high-profile first lady and a senator and secretary of state, so it’s understandable that she’s not very savvy with social media. She never drives. She has people for that. And she undoubtedly has people for her social media, too.
But maybe they aren’t the right people.
Someone who handles Clinton’s Twitter account probably thought it would look a little funny for the leading Democratic contender for the White House to start off with only a few thousand followers.
So some staffer somewhere pulled out the campaign credit card and clicked a link, a link possibly obtained by dipping into the spam folder. Easy as buying a pair of shoes for walking the campaign trail, or the movie “The Candidate” on YouTube, the purchase was made.
Twitter followers in the thousands? Check. Giant number of likes on the Facebook page? Check.
What could possibly go wrong?
Baghdad Loves Hillary?
Well, it turns out that it doesn’t look good for the campaign when the Facebook account of the presidential hopeful has more followers in Baghdad than in Brooklyn or any other U.S. city.
Of course, there’s a fairly decent chance that the campaign actually did nothing wrong.
As explained in this video, one of the ways that people who sit around clicking “like” on pages for pay avoid detection is by liking, “favoriting” and otherwise mindlessly following lots and lots of accounts to make it harder to sniff out which companies are paying for links.
Maybe they all liked Clinton’s pages to cover their tracks? Possible, but not likely. There are a lot of clickers in Baghdad, no doubt, but probably not 46,000 of them.
What’s the Lesson for Entrepreneurs in All This?
I think there are two.
Never Fake It
Never buy followers. Never pay for likes.
Remember the kid who thought that if he bought candy for classmates he’d get more friends? It didn’t work for him, and it won’t work for you. Better a hundred real fans than 100,000 fake ones.
I’m CEO of a marketplace where you can buy blog posts and so, our product is, by nature, a bit secretive. We are in some ways “ghostwriters” and people who use us often don’t advertise that they are not writing their own posts. We’ll never tell, either.
But we don’t fake anything.
A real human being analyzes the companies we work for and writes posts that work for visitors to those companies. Anonymity is different than fakery. Anonymous writing has a long and rich history. Fake likes are just a modernized version of false advertising.
Bad Things Can Happen Online, With You and Your Competitors
The trick is to not be too worked up if something weird happens to you online … or too delighted if something bad happens to a competitor.
More than any other election, the race in 2016 will be fought online, but it will still be decided based on the candidates. It would be easy for Martin O’Malley to try to score some points by making fun of Clinton’s fake followers, but are any voters really going to decide based on what may have been a social media goof by a junior staffer? Hard to imagine.
So, if you have competitors who have something weird going on with their social feeds, or their sites, it’s probably best just to watch and learn, but not to try to make any hay out of it. It may not have been their doing.
There’s a great content marketing agency in Colorado called SproutContent. They had been doing everything right in the inbound marketing world, and it was paying off for them. Then the wheels came off the bus of their search results.
Someone had taken a blog post from their site, unbeknownst to them, and posted it on every crappy site in the universe. Google thought it was them. Their ranking plummeted.
But the team fought back, and now things are working for them nicely, mostly because they just continue to write great posts and do good work for their clients. That’s a great recipe for success.
Whomever wins the White House next is going to do so by doing a great job being a candidate. Being a great candidate, like running a great business, is all about making good choices, being authentic and honest, and just doing good work.
And unlike in the world of presidential politics, there can be lots of winners in the world of business, so don’t worry about the competition. Just worry about winning the hearts of your customers with no fakery involved.
The Clintons Photo via Shutterstock
After this story published, I was contacted with another scenario: It’s possible that some opponent of Hillary purchased those followers. Anyone can purchase followers or likes for any account. Some jerk might have thought it would be damaging to her, and so he paid to have all those fake people follow her account. I don’t know if that’s the case, but if someone did do that, and gets found out, that will be a legitimate political scandal.
Bottom line remains the same: Play by the rules. If you don’t it will come back to bite you.
Why fake it? She can easily get followers if her manager just put up ads. Maybe he is trying to get a cut by failing to advertise and just buying a bunch of junk followers.
Why would this surprise anyone? She has been on the edge of legal her entire “career” back to and including Watergate, where she was basically fired for violations of ethics, as far as I can tell not much has changed in that department. On the flip side, I think too much weight is being given to social media these days. Facebook and Twitter have become convoluted with scammers, marketers, trend setters, and political boosters, etc. etc.; washing out the voices of the individuals, which was suppose top be the point of social media. To bring my comment back around to the point; cutting corners and taking short cuts, usually lead to a longer road in the end, social media is no different…