There is a difference in doing research and actually becoming a fan on social networks like Facebook. For example, you may want to follow your competitors and see what they are up to. To do this, of course you would look for their search ads, join their Affiliate program and now adays, you would follow them on Twitter and other Social Networks to keep up with them in real time. The thing though is that there is a difference between following someone and supporting them or their cause.
I was recently invited to join a pay per install fan page on facebook for a really nasty adware application…the new version of our favorite to hate pop up ad network, and although I was curious to see what they were pushing and how they were pushing it, I respectfully declined.
The thing that bugs me is that lately I have actually been paying attention to what I am doing online a bit more than I used to. I’ve also noticed that people make assumptions based on who you are a fan of, who you are friends with, etc… and then assume they are ok to work and partner with as well not realizing that in reality you are just following them because you want to know what is going on with their business.
For example, I may follow that crapware network as a friend on Facebook because I want to know the updates so I can know a bit more what to look out for. When I got invited to their Fanpage that was another story.
If people that come to me for advice see I am a fan of them then they may make the assumption that they are ok or are ok to work with now. The reality is that they aren’t. I was on a phone call with someone who owns a small Affiliate Network and they said I didn’t know you went out on your own. Apparently because I was friends with a couple people on Facebook they had been sending them Clients for management services. When they told me that I asked if they were crazy, literally I was kind of shocked and felt really bad for the Clients they had sent their way.
The people they were sending their Clients to for management on other networks are people that I consider scum. Not only do they not manage the programs but they do stupid things like put programs on Auto Approve and convince Clients that Trademark Bidding is ok and they should let it happen. I mean seriously, it was a nightmare to find out that because I had friended a couple people and also joined their fan pages and people made recommendations to their Clients and people asking for help based on that as a major deciding factor.
The point of this rant is to be careful who you friend but be even more careful if you join a Fanpage.
Being friends with someone is one thing, but joining a Fanpage for people that lack ethics and morals could end up giving the wrong impression. It could show you support the company who works with Adware and steals from Merchants, Affiliates and their own Clients. It could appear you are black hat or appear that you are white hat. By you being a fan you could give the impression that the company or person you are a fan of is not who they think they are because the people that look up to you are seeing that you are a fan, but they have no idea why. Instead of joining as a fan, why not just bookmark their page and check back on it? Why not set up a Google Alert or a fake account and join that way. There are plenty of ways to spy on your competitors and people who you would never trust without having to show you have any sort of relationship with them.
Your reputation is a lot easier to destroy or build now adays. You could be doing something completely innocent but because you are a fan of a certain group, network or people, you could now be seen as a negative person. In reverse if you are a black hat person, work with bad Affiliates, Companies and third party vendors but get enough reputable people following you, you could start to give the false appearance that you are indeed legit and indeed a white hat Marketer. Heck, if you could convince a few intelligent people to friend you, you may appear that you actually know what the heck you are talking about as well and find yourself with a ton of mindless drone followers like many “intelligent gurus” have.
Anyways thinking about this even more has convinced me to go through Facebook and start removing certain people and definitely taking myself off of a bunch of fan pages. You never know who is looking and if you are giving the right or wrong impressions to them. Sure I am still going to be friends with some people whose lack of ethics and morals make my opinion of them the scum of the earth but I can tell you if I come across their fan pages and haven’t removed myself from them already, I will certainly quit them and drop them when I find them.