Is Too Many Friends/Followers a Bad Thing?

In the world of social media, it’s all about the metrics: the number of people who are following you on Twitter, the number of friends you have on Facebook, etc.

But, if too many users and entrepreneurs focus on this, those measures may become meaningless.

From BusinessWeek:

If I’ve learned anything in 10 years of covering entrepreneurs, it’s that they love to cheat. If you ever play a game with one of them, be very clear about the rules. Here’s why: To an entrepreneur, it’s not just winning that’s important—it’s also outfoxing the game. Don’t forget that many of the most famous startup guys—from Apple (AAPL) co-founder Steve Wozniak to Microsoft (MSFT) co-founder Bill Gates to Slide founder Max Levchin—began as hackers, breaking the rules mainly for sport.

This tendency isn’t always a bad thing, at least not from a business point of view. Starting companies is a risky mix of luck and skill. The more an entrepreneur can take something normally left to luck and make it a test of skill, the more likely he is to win or otherwise overcome a challenge.

But lately Silicon Valley’s system-gaming penchant has shown up in a frenzy to add social media friends and followers faster than everybody else. This is no mere popularity contest among bloggers with fragile egos. By using tricks to inflate the number of new people who click on a person’s blog, profile page, or Web site, friend-adding and link-baiting schemes threaten to undermine the credibility of one of the few reliable yardsticks left for measuring a Web site’s traffic: the unique user.

Taken in by Twply

Evidence of the troubling fad can be seen seemingly everywhere with increasing frequency, as sites, bloggers, and individuals struggle to monetize their popularity. Remember the early Facebook apps that sent unauthorized “Zombie” invites to all your friends? The tactics became so heavy-handed that Facebook announced last May it would start penalizing spammy applications.

Now we’re seeing it on the microblogging sensation Twitter. In December an application called Twply launched asking users for their Twitter user names and passwords. It used those logins to send out a Tweet pretending to be from each user that read: “Just started using http://twply.com/ to get my @replies via e-mail. Neat stuff!” The trend spread rapidly as A-list bloggers and techies, including Michael Arrington of TechCrunch, not only tried it but appeared to give it their blessing. Soon, people saw that either all their friends suddenly began saying “neat stuff!” or they’d been had. A backlash started, but it hardly mattered. Twply sold itself—and all the user login data—on SitePoint.com for $1,200 just hours after it launched.

That’s not so different from link-baiting, the cozy tendency among bloggers to agree to link to one another to drive up the number of unique visitors.

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5 Comments on “Is Too Many Friends/Followers a Bad Thing?”

  1. Ray Macy Says:

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  2. I’ve had issues with that as well.. I even wrote a blog entry to help people in that situation as well.. Hope that helps! http://tinyurl.com/yzql8a4


  3. […] You Can Have Too Many Friends : Too many friends and followers actually can be a bad thing. While real people with real accounts […]


  4. […] You Can Have Too Many Friends : Too many friends and followers actually can be a bad thing. While real people with real accounts […]


  5. […] You Can Have Too Many Friends : Too many friends and followers actually can be a bad thing. While real people with real accounts […]


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