• Saturday, March 12th, 2011

Be my friend and you can share my toys

Remember when you were a kid and the other kids on the playground would say things like “if you be my friend, I’ll let you play with my new toy?”  Or perhaps, “if you give me some of your dessert I’ll be your friend.” It’s just what kids do, and most of us grow out of that.  Or, at least I thought we did.

A growing trend in social media is to lure people to “like” or “follow” companies, products or brands by giving them something they want; a t-shirt, sticker, hair-care products or some other equally useless awesome “stuff”.  OK, that’s cool, everybody wins, sort of.

It’s a disaster, not daycare.

However, I think a line has been crossed.  While I and many other tech-minded people were at SXSW, a terrible disaster took place in Japan.  Hundreds, and possibly thousands of people were killed, wounded or went missing  after a record breaking earth quake and the subsequent tsunami.  Within a matter of hours I heard about companies promoting that if they get enough “likes” on their Facebook page they would donate money to help with search, rescue and/or recovery efforts.  One that I saw said if they get 100,000 new “likes”, they’ll send $100,000.  What?  That’s just as if they had said “we feel really bad about it and we want to help, but only if you’ll be our friend first.” Is it just me, or is that not very social?  Perhaps it even crosses into anti-social.

Let’s make social, social again.

Fundamentally, shouldn’t we as humans (even humans who run businesses) do good things because they’re good, and not because we hope people will like us for doing it?  Let’s try this – be remarkable; do something really great and worthy of being noticed and guess what, people will notice, and they will tell their friends.  In the end,  people will ACTUALLY like you, and not just on Facebook.

We should make these companies earn our friendship and not let them buy it.

Let’s make Social Media social again, what can we do to make things better?

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6 Responses

  1. Couldn’t agree with you more on this Jack but it’s a stretch to expect the behavior is going to change. Here’s to getting back to the fundamentals and being human. :)

  2. 2
    Annie Cushing  //

    Wow, those examples you gave are chilling. Trying to segue a human disaster into a marketing opportunity is unconscionable, in my opinion.

  3. 3
    Psuedo-anonymous Coward  //

    I think you hit the proverbial nail on the head by terming the behavior “anti-social.”

    You suggest that as humans we should do things that are good, because they are good – and that people will like us as a result. That IMHO is the essence of “social” behavior. The flip side is when we do something good in exchange for being liked, which is IMHO the essence of “anti-social” behavior.

    The paradox is that when we, as humans, see the cause and effect relationship between positive action and positive result, it can become tempting to try to game that causal relationship. This temptation *must* be resisted if one is to succeed in either doing good (the positive action) or doing well (making a profit) and certainly if one wishes to succeed in both.

    As always, your written words provoke much thought.

  4. 4
    Wendy Herndon  //

    one thing that we can do as ‘online marketers’ is to try to bring a ‘humancentric’ touch to everything we do. We should ask ourselves: How is this bringing value to the person we’re ‘sharing’ with? and ARE we sharing or just tooting our own horn? AND what could the person I’m sharing with teach me?

    Very thought provoking and ‘grounding’ post. Thanks Jack!

  5. 5
    Foniacs  //

    Social Media can sometimes bring out the worst of a person as they can easily have a double identity whilst posting on things like facebook etc

  6. 6
    Mike K-H  //

    Jack, I’m sure you know that it had nothing to do with friendship. They were using it to advertise a brand. Instead of paying $100k to an advertising firm, they spent a few bucks posting on FB and sent the money to a charity. Or, probably, they also paid an advertising firm to do it for them…

    A friend just introduced me to your blog – that was real friendship.