It didn’t work for Mariah and it certainly didn’t work for Milli Vanilli either. So why do you think faking it is going to work for you?
There was poor Mariah, out in the freezing cold in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, only to be let down by her backing track and her inability to lip sync. We may be excused from feeling sorry for her. What with her millions in the bank, a hit single that probably pays the gas bill every winter and her endless supply of toyboys. But I’m sure all she didn’t want for Christmas was to make herself a worldwide headline for all the wrong reasons. Ah god love her, the poor pet. Ok, that’s about as far as my sympathy levels go.
And then there’s Milli Vanilli, those sort of R&B Germans that took lip syncing to a whole other level. They didn’t even sing the damn song in the first place! Back in 1989, that was one hell of a scandal. These days it would probably pass as trending on Twitter for an hour or two. And a whole generation who have no clue what that paragraph is all about. Just Google it.
So what do these pop faux pas tell us about social media, all the way from 1989 to 2017?
You won’t make it when you’re faking it!
Last year one of my most visited and certainly most shared blog posts was all about those pesky social media influencers that are faking it and how you, the discerning reader/viewer can spot them. You can take a read of it here if you so happen to have missed that one.
Faking it is not popular amongst the rank and file of the content creation industry. But yet it’s still rife. Every single day, without fail, I see yet more glaring examples of people who are just out and out fakers. Whether it’s buying their likes, inflating their views, claiming to be someone they aren’t or giving themselves crazy, completely made up job titles to impress the unknowing. It seems every which way you turn on social media you find yourself virtually bumping into those we’d rather not even acknowledge existed. But they do exist, and they are conning us all.
More Tea Vicar
Whilst many of these fakers are hiding in plain sight and playing the holier than thou card very well. Others are lurking in the background ‘building their brand’. But their issue is that quite frankly they don’t know what they’re doing, their content is crap but they crave attention so much the only way they can get it is by faking the numbers and the so-called online fame.
You see, that’s what’s at the heart of it all. Fame. Or attention. It would seem that we now live in a society that craves attention so much if it can’t be had via normal or organic methods, then fake attention is a perfectly suitable substitute. So long as the numbers look good on the Instagram post, then all is well in the world.
Is It Really?
Like, seriously, think about that one for a minute. When did it become ok to go and spend $5 on some fake likes on a photo to make a person feel good about themselves? By our constant search for attention and approval from others in our social media lead society, are we actually just creating a future generation that will never leave their homes through the enormous insecurity issues they have grown up with?
Or perhaps that is the future? I often make the comment that I could quite easily survive without ever leaving my house. I can work from home and can get everything I need delivered to my home. And I can engage with the people I know all over the world whilst I’m sat on the toilet (I don’t actually do that, I’m just being metaphorical) and if the outside world is a bit too scary, then I don’t have to so much as pop my head out the door anymore.
Now I know that never leaving my house isn’t a direct result of someone buying some Twitter followers or whatever, but actually, it probably shows the face value of the changing world we live in.
Have They Really Made It?
When I look at the endless stream of content creators that are buying likes, views, followers, Pokemon (before I get bombarded with questions, I don’t actually know if you can buy Pokemon but I’m just checking that you’re still paying attention). Anyway, I don’t see it really causing them much concern. I see several travel bloggers (funny story coming up alert) that seem to be living the dream, all based on fake likes and followers.
Funny story – someone showed me a video on Instagram a few weeks back posted by an ‘influencer’. It had been posted about 4 or 5 minutes earlier and had already racked up an impressive 900+ likes. Pretty good hey. Well no not really. When you clicked in to see the views of the video, it was 4. Yes, 4! How can a video with 4 views get over 900 likes in 4 minutes? Don’t bother trying to figure it out, it’s impossible. It was there in plain sight for anyone to see. But nobody ever raises the question. Or just ignores the glaringly obvious.
So have they really made it? On the outside they look as though they are having a great old time, jetting here there and everywhere. But at what cost? Yes, there’s the monetary cost to the company that is paying them to review a location that won’t actually be viewed by that many people at all. But actually what about the physical and mental cost to the content creator? The stress of knowing that at any moment you may well be called out publicly for your not so ethical standards? Is that what you’d call making it?
Faking It To Failure
You see, going back to the Milli Vanilli example. If you cheat your way to success, sooner or later your luck is going to run out. Your fall from grace may be not quite as dramatic as Milli Vanilli but chances are you may be left feeling pretty damn shit about it all. And probably regretting those likes you bought in the name of being popular. You may even lose an income stream. You may not, however, lose a Grammy as I doubt you had one in the first place. A Shorty award isn’t quite the same.
However, did the downfall of Milli Vanilli really just prepare the next generation for the acceptance of auto-tune and lip syncing? Today’s pop stars are manufactured in a far more sophisticated manner. In the same respect, will the current trend for buying the likes and followers prepare the next wave of influencers to just accept that some people are just faking it? Or the audience to accept that not everyone online is who or what they seem? By the way, I am currently writing an epic blog for my lifestyle site about what your kids are getting up to online in an attempt to hammer it home that not everyone online is who they say they are. Or a nice person for that matter. So please keep your eyes open for that one.
The story of Milli Vanilli ultimately ends in tragedy when in 1998, some 8 years after their rise to fame and fall from grace, one of the singers, Rob, died from an overdose shortly after a documentary about the band was aired. His death was deemed an accidental suicide.
Honesty over Integrity
In today’s world, honesty is often subjective. We know that the entertainment world is littered with mistruths. We know that reality tv shows are really not quite reality. That most pop stars are using backing singers and lip syncing when performing live (do you really think they can sing and dance like that?!?!). Many YouTubers have come out and admitted that their prank videos are staged. We know that those candid selfies on Instagram actually take about 4 hours to prepare for and 200 shots taken before the perfect shot is edited to within an inch of its life before it’s posted. We know this. And to a degree we accept it.
We know that Kim K has like a bazillion fake followers but it’s ok because she also has a bazillion real ones too. She just wants to have higher numbers than anyone else. And we sort of accept it, although I’m still not overly sure what a Kardashian actually is or does.
You can buy all the likes you want and be as dishonest as you like when you profess gratitude for hitting 100k followers when you’ve bought most of them on Fiverr. But there is one ingredient you will always be missing and it is that which will ultimately trip you up.
Integrity. Without it you have nothing. Somewhere down the line, someone will spot that you’re lacking in this vital ingredient. They may not spot that your numbers are fake or that they are getting zero ROI from the posts they have paid you for. But something will give you away and that is when your faking will lead to your failure.
Dance Like Nobody Is Watching
So, how do you succeed when all around you are faking it and hitting the big numbers you so long for?
That’s really quite simple. You just get on with what you are doing. If you are writing a blog and nobody is reading it, but you are doing your very best, then eventually somebody will read it and love it. And they will share it and somebody else will read it. And then it will snowball. If you are making videos for YouTube and praying for Zoella’s numbers, well umm, you might want to shift your goalposts, but so long as you do your very best and keep on showing up, somebody will watch you. As long as you have faith in what you are doing and produce the very best content you possibly can, that you love creating and want to bring some level of value to others, then you will get there, in the end, my friend.
Create your content as though you are creating it just for you. Put your heart and soul into it and don’t fear judgement. If you create it not caring if anyone ever sees it because it’s just for you, then your true authenticity will shine through and actually more people will probably see it and share it. If you create your content in the hope of getting the numbers, then you might as well be faking it because it won’t come across as authentic. I’ve written about staying authentic as an influencer before, so pop over there and have a read. And if you are still creating content for the sake of the numbers then you might want to read this one about vanity metrics.
And For Business?
If you’re a business that is buying likes then seriously give your head a wobble. What does it matter if you have 100k followers on Twitter if most of them are fake and can’t possibly engage with your business let alone buy from it? You’re wasting your time, money and efforts if, as a business, you start to play the numbers game. You seriously need to stop and rethink your entire social strategy.
If I’m going to fail I would rather do it through trying my hardest and still failing than having a lack of integrity.
And So It Will Pass
Maybe this number obsession will pass and folks will come to appreciate quality over high likes. Maybe the social media channels will actually start to enforce their own rules and kick people off for breaching the rules about buying likes and followers.
Or maybe they will find a way to kill the spambots! Because let me tell you, I am sick to death of the follow/unfollow crap. Every single day, follow then unfollow when they don’t get a follow back. And then the whole, ‘lets connect’ comments on Instagram when all they are is shitty get rich quick scheme type sellers who will also follow then unfollow.
But whatever the trends are, they will pass and something else will come along. Probably equally as annoying and frustrating. But you just keep on creating your stuff and if you get just one like, cherish it because you may have actually made that person feel better that day. And that is all that really counts. Be the authentic alternative to the fakers. And remember, all that glistens is not gold.
“It’s a tragedy for me to see the dream is over. And I never will forget the day we met. Girl, I’m gonna miss you.”
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