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There's no doubt about that Katia, but I think you're missing the point of the article.
It's not that ALL social proof is manipulated, it's that some is manipulated in order to be more attractive to real people.
For the record, I stopped with the number inflation because ultimately you either have to live with a bad secret, or greed can get out of control or someone else takes over and does it far worse. It's a monster that must be fed.
The "branding" occurs when real people see the fake people, and assume you're legit.
It happens when you're using "legit" tactics in tandom with the not legit tactics in order to break that treshhold.
"make quality content" is not always enough, because "quality" is so subjective. These manipulation tactics are to increase the validity of "quality" to a real person.
See what I mean?
The whole purpose for publishing this article is to show that these tactics still work, and that if you're going to open your wallet to people you have to question whether or not these tactics have been used on you.
This has to be by far one of my favorite comments on this subject, and I wish you were in one of the other places this conversation is taking place online right now where the only thing that is being latched onto right now was how I used dishonest tactics... smh
No, it's not.
And in the end I think it's important you understand how it all works so you can make your decisions accordingly.
Many bloggers beat themselves because they think they're not good enough, when really a good percentage of the competition is overinflating themselves.
Once you understand that you're intentionally taking the harder, more noble route, you can feel more accomplished over your real wins.
I think you're right, but I also think it depends on who you're targeting...
IF you're a person who sells information on gardening for example (let's take it away from social media) and I don't know jack about gardening (I really don't) and you've done a fantastic job targeting the long tail keyword I'm typing in AND you have all this manufactured social proof, how am I to know you're not legit on gardening?
Is it before I decide to buy your infoproduct, or after?
Furthermore, if your product funnel is designed to always keep me needing more, at what point do I blame YOU instead of myself for being duped?
And even I do say "This person is a phoney!" when most of your social proof consists of robots... who am I telling really?
It's similar to the way we as people work. You might have work friends, going out friends, old friends... etc... The way we act around our different friends comes naturally, but we do it without thinking... so how do we apply that to a made up entity like a brand?
What you want to do in that case is set up a venn diagram of the different audiences and list out the things they find interesting. beyond interests, list out their values, life goals etc... be as specific as possible.
Eventually, you will find the overlap in your audiences interests and values which is where your brand's character will stem from.
In your primary communications, you use that central voice, then when you want to be more campaign specific, you drill into the other sides of your "personality" by tapping into the more specific audiences.
Do you have a specific example I could look at where I can give more detail?
Thanks Danielle! I'm glad you enjoyed it :-)