I always love reading business blogs whose bloggers post income report every month. Why? They give me carrots to chase; dream to pursue; a future to hope for. I believe it’s possible to be like them – even try to do better than them. However some people just do it wrong: They want shortcuts. And just like anything else in life, shortcuts come with risks.
Did you know why roads on mountains have so many turns? Well, if you made them a straight line, it would be too steep; no vehicle will be able to “climb” the steep road. It might be possible for some, but many others will fail.
From my personal experience, shortcuts are dangerous. There ARE ways to speed things up, but shortcuts? No – I don’t trust shortcuts.
Like I always said to those asking for my opinion about online business: There is no shortcut to success. You need to work smart AND work hard to ace the competition. You can speed things up using various techniques, but you need to be sure that the techniques won’t backfire.
Did you know why I fail my rather popular business blog? That’s because I’m taking shortcuts; some of them are really bad shortcuts. Instead of learning new techniques that can grow my business faster, I use some techniques… not necessarily black-hat or illegal, but they are definitely in grey area.
Do you want to know how to fake your way to online business success? I can give you some shortcuts that many people do but they probably shouldn’t. I personally won’t do it again, as it obviously backfires.
Shady ways to boost online business reputation – and success
Still interested? Please continue at your own risk – here they go:
1. Buy social followers
This is BIG business. I was tempted to start this business, but my conscience stopped me from doing so. The demand is huge, making it a lucrative business. There’s nothing wrong with the business itself, but if you are thinking about buying one, you need to know one thing or two so you can make a well-informed decision.
The idea is simple: Instead of you growing your social media followers one person at a time, why don’t you just “buy” followers? You will get instant credibility and your business will find more success due to the 50,000 of Twitter followers you have – which 95 percent of them are purchased followers.
Furthermore, as search engines consider social media mentions as ranking factor, it seems that buying followers seem to be a viable SEO tactic.
Obviously, the pitches are pretty similar: “We offer a package of 1,000 Facebook likes from real people and 1,000 Twitter real followers. What do “real” means? They use photos, names, and so on with generic social activities with only one caveat: They are fictional “real” people.
However, many just don’t get it: When they grow instagram followers (or any social media networks, really) they are buying numbers. These may be legit, but still, turning the “real” followers into buyers of your products requires plenty of work. Why? Well, even if they are real, they aren’t following you because they believe in your brand; they are paid to do so.
What about fake accounts? Don’t waste your money on them. You’ll eventually need to clean up your account, and that takes a lot of time. Moreover, Facebook and Twitter combat those fake accounts, but they can’t still do them effectively. Indeed, selling social followers is still a big business!
2. Buy web traffic
This is a classic way to boost the number of people visiting your business website. It’s still a lucrative business, and just like selling social follower, selling traffic still, well, sell.
Web traffic selling comes in several different forms, but it’s typically about purchasing a package of, say, 100,000 visits, which will be sent to your website generally in trickles. There are two kinds of traffic you should be aware of – bot traffic and human traffic. Real human traffic is better in quality, as there are actually real people visiting your site for a certain period of time.
When your site visitors are stat junkie, they will notice that your Alexa rank is low (just like in golf, lower Alexa rank means higher traffic) – which will boost your site’s credibility – artificially.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with buying traffic. However, you should be aware of the incoming traffic is low quality. They don’t really browse your website; a few might be interested in your content, services or products, but in general, the impact is pretty much like buying social media followers – you will get numbers, but won’t likely get results in term of returning visitors or service/product sign-ups.
3. Buy reviews
My favourite 🙂 Either in audio, video or text formats, it’s, again, big business, as online business owners – especially those in retailing niches – rely on customer reviews. Before you decide whether buying a review package is a good idea or not, you need to understand one thing: Not all reviews are created equal.
There are generally 2 types of paid review: Honest review and scripted/fake review.
While I am pro-honest review, whether it’s paid or not, I don’t really fancy fake reviews: They are misleading at best and, while great for reputation management, they can make you somewhat a scammer. How so? Well, there will be clients who decide to buy due to the fake reviews. Think about it.
How about this: Someone has 200 of fake accounts on a review site, and sell his service to artificially boost clients’ reputation – with reviews from the fake accounts.
Your target market will see glowing reference about your online business and they will have more confidence, assuming your business is a reputable one. And to be honest with you, not many people are aware that reviews can be engineered – that’s why I write this blog post, so everyone is better-informed.
Reviews are probably the most difficult to detect whether they are real or fake. Amazon and the others are combating fake reviews, but I don’t think they do it effectively.
I personally think buying reviews is acceptable – it’s commonly practiced. But when money involves in an opinion, you need to be aware that things can be subjective; you can use this for your benefits – the choice is yours.
The three shortcuts above CAN help you boost your and your online business’ reputation, thus impacting your online business success. However, please note that there are always substantial RISKS when you are involved with those practices.
Firstly, when you got caught, everything can backfire: The reputation you’ve built for years – both genuinely and engineered – can be ruined in just 5 minutes.
When you buy, say, Facebook likes, sooner or later the fake accounts will be detected and eliminated by Facebook. When your real followers notice that, it will be a big hit on your reputation, which will directly impact you online business’ success.
The same thing goes for buying traffic and reviews – when you are getting caught, your real followers, customers, visitors will flee from you.
And yes, those are just the beginning: Your disappointed real followers and visitors will definitely talk about it; and we all know that, on the Internet, bad news spread many times faster than good news. Then some of them will write in their blogs, Facebook accounts, forums, etc. – about your unethical practice.
There goes your business, I suppose…
If you are thinking about taking shortcuts today, think again. What you are doing is not illegal, but it does have consequences – and they can be very, very costly to the business you build ground up with sweat and tears.
Yes, it’s “no risk, no gain” in the world we live in; being ethical is all about your belief and consciousness… you can fake your way to online business success or do it ethically – your choice.
How about me? I choose to be ethical. I need to.