BEWARE of Cyberspace Snake Oil!

Have you been bought?

Seduced by the glitz, the glam, attracting paparazzi like steel filings to a magnet, and for some, the bouffant hairdo their personal stylist creates, many are in a full-out sprint to the top. They don’t care what they have to do to get there. Nothing is comparable to feeling adored and having screaming fans shout out, “We want more! We want more!” They sneeze and fans applaud.

Beware of snake oil salesmen

 

Most of us, like 99.99%, will never experience this. But what if you could buy this feeling?

Would you consider buying people to like you?

I live in the Wild West. It wasn’t long ago that pioneers rolled across the prairies in covered wagons to the Front Range where I live right now. Many became sick, but with no doctors or modern medicine to cure them, they relied on the traveling salesman. Distraught and worried men and women bought miracle cures for a wide variety of ailments. When settlers discovered the medicine did nothing to heal them (some were filled with a mixture including mineral oil, turpentine and camphor), they became known as Snake Oil Salesmen.

Flash forward a hundred years and a quarter. THEY STILL EXIST! If you are on social media, you’ve seen them. I’m not sure they are actually people, but their friendly, sometimes stunning, avatars promote likes or follows for sale. BEWARE. They are Cyberspace Snake Oil Salesmen.

First, let me take you back in time again, this time maybe a few days, months, or years ago. Sorry about the whiplash. Back to the day when you first embarked on your quest to do whatever it is you do in the vast black universe called the Internet. You felt all alone as you posted your very first cat photo on Facebook, entrée on Instagram or tweeted, “Hey Twitter! This is my first Tweet!” Then you waited and waited for something to happen until you realized you lacked something very important. You needed followers.

Days maybe weeks later, someone liked what you posted or they followed you.

After all that waiting, you were SEEN! You danced around your kitchen singing, “You like me, you like me, you like me…” You mainlined an endorphin rush in a cool blend of happiness, popularity and pure unadulterated ego boost. This is all good! There’s nothing wrong with a natural high.

But like a junkie addicted to crack cocaine, some can never get enough.

Soon they are posting all day long, hoping for that rush of happiness, but now it takes more than a retweet or a comment on Facebook. They need more.

That’s when they see the Cyberspace Snake Oil Salesmen and think, “Hey! I can pay for follows or likes.”

I’m not talking about paying to promote a Tweet or your Facebook page. Promotion puts your work in front of more people with similar interests. That’s cool!

But paying for likes or follows crosses the line from innocent fun to a dark alley in London slick with wet pavers while the stench of garbage and human waste rises in the mist. A shifty-eyed politician cloaked in a black cape and bowler stuffs the pockets of a member of parliament to buy a majority. Okay. I’ve watched too many Dickens movies on PBS.

It feels dishonest.

When I see likes or follows being sold, I wonder who’s making the money? And who’s sitting in a dark room somewhere pressing buttons all day? No one has ever approached me in a dark alley to press buttons for money. Are these button pressers being held hostage somewhere? Do the Cyberspace Snake Oil Salesmen and women continue to send your site out into the universe until you get the amount of likes or follows you pay for? I have no idea.

What really makes me scratch my head is when I check out their sites. The salesmen and women of this modern snake oil never have many likes or followers themselves. Hmmm. Do they have to make some kind of quota before their Oily boss endows them with their own heavenly likes? Do they think it ‘s too expensive or is it the obvious? They know they are meaningless or it doesn’t really get you anything but spammed or worse. HACKED! I really think they don’t do either of those things, but I’m not going to find out the hard way. You try it. Let me know how it goes… runs away to hide…

I’ll be honest for you. I would love to have 100’s of thousands of likes on my Facebook page. Hell. I would love to have 100’s of thousands of WordPress followers, but they don’t sell them… yet.

What about follow and like-backs? I don’t think that’s a problem as long as they are real people. I seldom like or follow people who only spew and don’t communicate, unless they are celebs with a bouffant hairdo.

I want my likes and follows to be sincere, so when I get one I can say, “You like me! You really like me.” And then I can dance around my own kitchen.

That’s what it’s all about, right? We want to make real connections online. That way, whoever likes our stuff is legitimately satisfied with our product, our writing, or wit or witty writing about a product. More important than that, they will return for more.

Otherwise we are just like a shady, back alley politician padding someone’s pockets and the number of follows or likes is meaningless.

So will I ever buy likes? Hell no. Promote an article on Facebook or Twitter? Maybe. But when it returns from its trip around the vast Internet, I bet it smells like snake oil.

 

Have you experienced Snake Oil Salesmen or women? Would you buy likes or follows? Do you have an aching back from riding on a buckboard?

 

81 thoughts on “BEWARE of Cyberspace Snake Oil!

  1. I’ve never run across actual snake oil” types that sell likes and follows, just people hawking their expertise at helping one expand their readership, but I don’t doubt that they’re out there. However, I have seen many medical ads aimed at social media that try to sell a particular cure-all for various present day ailments just like those traveling elixir salesman of the old west. You’ve seen them…”The four signs of an imminent heart attack” or “how to tell if you’re going to get cancer” etc. When you click on them it tells all about how they alone can prevent this happening to you. I figure if I subscribe to all of them, I will be the healthiest, but poorest person on the planet.

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    • Those ads are just as bad. “Ten foods that will give you cancer…” Ridiculous.

      I just went back to Twitter to pull a photo from one of the Cyberspace Snake Oil Salesmen. They all pulled up their stakes and fled my site. Ha! They come in droves and when I don’t click, leave all at once.
      I only found one disguised as a college kid in cap in gown:
      “[EXCLUSIVE OFFER] GET 10,000 Twitter Followers for $37 Interested? Click This…”
      It has a link that could lead to disaster. I don’t dare click.

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  2. I love this! Well said. I’ve been approached over the years by a variety of people with their snake oil– and always said no thank you. I may enjoy the attention my little bloggy brings my way, but I’m not chasing after external validation. There are limits.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had no idea that one could buy likes or follows. What would the point be in that, for heaven’s sake? When I get new followers who don’t even bother to introduce themselves, I’m very suspicious that they are following so that I will follow them back. I wish there was a way to delete followers of this ilk. I sometimes see bloggers who had thousands of followers, but no comments. Very odd indeed. 😕

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    • When you link up Twitter and Facebook WordPress adds those followers to your total on your site. They may have in the hundreds of WordPress followers, but thousands of social media followers.

      I was talking about Facebook and Twitter. WordPress “followbacks” are a whole other beast to tackle. I’ve checked out the sites of new likers and have been shocked. They may only have two months of posts and have 500 likes! I have been tempted to try it and follow a ton in my same vein, but it would blow up my Reader and I really care about the relationship built, not the numbers. It is another huge seduction and it works.
      I went to a WordPress convention and one of their Engineers said they were going to crack down on that, but I don’t see it happening. We do have the choice to follow them back after all.
      I would love it if there was a way to search for specific followers. It would be great if we went to blogs and it said, “Blank is following you.”
      Thanks for your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh i hate snake oil salesman, last year i got into a heated argument with one. He was being paid to peddle a health regimen to improve the health of those with Muscular Dystrophy. He showed before and after video to show improvement in walking and no difference it actually got worse. The argument got so ugly he blocked me.

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    • Oh man! There are a lot of them out there. Buyer beware!
      If you have a Twitter account, they follow in swarms with the promise of 1000’s of followers for $37. When I don’t take the bait, they unfollow me again. They are out there! What I should do is write down a couple of their accounts and see if Twitter is deleting them. That wouldn’t surprise me. This is like a Public Service Announcement for everyone. Ha!

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  5. Over the past year I have been dealing with a guy who is a “snake oil salesman” that joined my business group. I feel like I need a shower every time he opens his mouth. He is constantly hounding the group about how he can get them thousands of likes for their pages, etc. He has it all worked out. Myself and a couple of other members, who actually work on social media and the internet sit there shaking our heads no and then have to explain to the rest how wrong this is. Some get it. Some don’t.
    Just say, “No”, to the snake oil dude no matter what they are selling.

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  6. I’ve been approached a few times, of course. (Usually via twitter) But you’re right—there’s a name for those who offer to sell the love of others, and it’s not pretty.

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    • Stanky, skammy, stench-filled, spammers? I bet it’s something far worse. Ha!
      I had a ton of “Snake Oil Salesmen” who followed me this week. That’s what prompted the post. I went back today to lift an icon and they’re GONE! I think Twitter cleans them out. Yeah Twitter street sweepers!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I finally had to disallow pingbacks on my blog because of random pingback postings from bloggers trying to get MY followers to visit their site. They weren’t commenters or even likers on my blog and I don’t think even followers. Your analogy of a back alley scene in London is spot on in some cases. Snake Oil is alive and well and is pedaled every day on the internet. It’s up to us individually not to fall for it. Well, I’m off to send my $200 to Nigeria so they can send me my mega millions inheritance 😆

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahahahahahhahahaha! I laughed out loud with that one, Ingrid! That was really the first, wasn’t it? All those emails asking for money because they went on vacation and were ripped off or whatever. I remember my dad calling to say he had won the Ireland lottery, but needed to send $50 to process his millions. Ha!
      I’ve gotten those pingbacks too. If they’re really sketchy, I don’t even want to click to their blogs to find out! I could be SPAMMED! Ughhh…
      Thanks Ingrid!

      Liked by 1 person

    • This was one of the main reasons I switched from Blogger to WordPress. Blogger suddenly stopped being able to pick up spam comments full of dodgy links. I had about thousands of them for moderation at one point and could only delta 50 at a time (plus had to search for the genuine comments among them)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. These “snake oil salesmen” are prevelent on TripAdvisor as well. Here in Vicksburg there are one or two places that always have tons of really positive reviews, but they are rarely open for business. How does this happen? Someone paying someone to write a bogus review? Noooo. Who would do that?

    Good post Susie.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

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  9. My first thought was you were going to reference the fitness industry which is a huge “snake-oil” market. I have to admit I’ve not come across a way to buy likes and follows. I think we are all aware what a small percentage of our actual WordPress followers become active participants on our sites. To pay for even more followers that you won’t ever see again, seems silly!

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    • Yep. There is always some new piece of equipment to sell in the new year. The Cyberspace Snake Oil Salesmen are all over Twitter and now I’m seeing them for Facebook and Instagram. Many new bloggers follow a few thousand to get followbacks. They follow us with no intention of reading our blogs. They just want to grow their numbers. A lot of people do that.

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  10. I bought into one from…I can’t remember where, but not them following me. He took forever and I tried to get a refund, but PayPal said I got what I paid for.

    Yeah, the day after, I got maybe 85% of what I was promised for both FB and Twitter…and they leave you after a week or so, regardless of how much you’re posting.

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      • No, this was literally buying followers. Quite unlike the time I bought a FB ad for a fan page I was running…before it was acceptable for non-employees (of the celeb or company) to start pages and probably before most people were using ad blockers.

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  11. Blogging and having feedback is satisfying but especially when i have felt a kind of connection from following the blog for awhile. I follow a talented nature photographer from Tofino BC. I received a new years email wishing me a happy new year! I know he is a real person and if I visit there we could have coffee. Another nice lady in savannah GA offered travel advice for her lovely area.
    Yes, let’s be careful but not miss out on the neat persons out there even if we probably will never get to meet them live.

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    • Blogging is different. They can’t buy follows as far as I know. But CSOS are all over social media like Facebook and Twitter. I agree. It is much better to develop relationships than to have big numbers. There are a lot of bloggers who follow for followbacks similar to Twitter and Instagram. It works, but I can’t imagine going through their Reader. Ha! Mine is bad enough with following a couple hundred.
      Thanks for stopping by, Frank!

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  12. I haven’t actually seen those ads, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Snake oil for sure!

    And you’re so right about the adrenaline rush of likes and follows. I don’t know if I’m a purist or just plain lazy, but my grand plan to increase that kind of “buzz” is to try to write stuff that people want to read. That’s about it.

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    • Just wait. Once one Cyberspace Snake Oil Salesman knocks on your Twitter profile, they will all come around like feeding time.
      I’m all about the writing too, Peg. We could easily follow thousands for followbacks here on our blogs. Many new bloggers do that. It’s what most do on social media like Twitter. It is tempting because it works. No harm, no foul. No thank you.

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  13. I can’t count the emails I’ve received from people wanting to “sell” me followers. When I check their own profiles, they have a fraction of the followers I have. And I should buy from them? These days I have several requests every day from people wanting me to approve their friend requests, so I’m not exactly in a panic to find more.

    It it neat when you make a cyber friend and then get to meet him or her in person. Meeting you and Danny will always be a highlight among our vacations for Sharon and me both. So many others I’d like to be able to meet sometime, too.

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  14. My blog’s readership is small enough (waaaay small enough) that I can check individual pingbacks. If they’re not legit, I dump them. I have a goal for increasing my readership, but I’d like to do so by posting content that is appreciated, not by buying followers. I liked your part about “You felt all alone as you posted your very first cat photo on Facebook.” It inspired me to go back and see what my first Facebook post was. It was a photo of a baby opossum that had wandered into my back yard. All the cat photos came later.

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    • Hahahahahahahaha! Still laughing. I was close, but would never have guessed an opossum. Ha!

      I think it’s really important to have goals for our blogs. For some reason, I’ve never obsessed about the amount of followers. I was lucky to be Freshly Pressed a few times and was blessed with a bunch of new followers, but I doubt a third are still active. I’m more obsessed about views. Man. When I miss with a title or that first 55 words, it is miserable! I always do that when I feel the most secure or excited about a post. Gah!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Great post Susie!! This hits home with me. Since becoming addicted to Instagram, I must have blocked hundreds of faux users that are selling tickets to Vegas shows or ways to get followers. Or likes? In any case, these slimy folks are everywhere and I never hesitate to block them. Use the Las Vegas hash tag, you will be flooded with dopes selling this or that. No thanks! Blocked!

    It is now FINALLY possible to remove unwanted faux followers on WordPress which I took advantage of straight away. My Legitimate followers number around one hundred, but before removing the trash, there were nearly five hundred followers who were in one form or another, spammers. Self promoting blood suckers. Sorry for the rant, have a great weekend Susie ❤️

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  16. When I get a new Twitter follower, I automatically check to see how many other followers they added at the same time. 798 is a magic number, and I’m guessing they’re using some service like the one you mention. There’s a bot that automatically adds people over a period of time so that Twitter doesn’t put the account in Twitter jail. The idea is that this bot signs you up to follow people, and then maybe half of them will follow you back. Viola! Instant giant following. I figure if someone is following 100K people, or if they have 100K followers, they don’t really need me.

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  17. I agree totally. I’d rather put up great content and see what develops. And in any case, I’d also far rather have a small group of genuine people who I connect and interact with properly, than some huge fantasy ‘brag number’ of followers I’d never met (and never will…not least because most of them would be imaginary…) The ‘Dunbar Number’ applies.

    Apropos WordPress – I have a funny feeling that there are people who game the system anyway – spammers who operate click-farms, setting up fake blogs to sell stupid products (more snake oil!) or attract clicks to spread malware, who then spam genuine bloggers with follows and likes in the hope of getting clicks back. I sometimes get ‘new follows’ from some very oddly named bloggers, and if I follow back the blog is either empty or nonsensical. Sometimes they also disappear pretty quickly, suggesting Mr Mullenweg and his Happiness Engineers are on to it – which is good.

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    • I really wish I knew who you were! You left such a great comment. I didn’t know about the Dunbar number. That is so interesting.
      I have gotten a fair amount of likes from new bloggers. When I clicked to their blogs they already have a HUGE following most likely from liking and following tons of blogs for followbacks. That technique seems to work, but I’m not interested in chasing tail. I’ve got books to write!

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  18. I am astonished that these snake oil salesmen even exists! I have wondered about those mystery followers (of whom I have hundreds) who are just trying to sell their own business website. But the idea that people buy (and sell) followers and like is so very silly. It’s like those really sad kids who only had friends because they had a swimming pool …

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    • HAHAHAHA! There are always those who use and abuse those poor kids with pools.
      They are everywhere and I’m finding out they are lurking here on WordPress too. I do feel like it’s buying love. What good is a number? I want genuine views. Sell me a lure to get them here and flypaper to make them read a while. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I feel the same way. I don’t follow the people who sell followers either. I love how you describe that adrenaline rush when someone likes you in the beginning. You were one of my first blog friends!!

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    • Awww! That is so great Nicci! I remember when we first met. I keep finding bloggers who must follow thousands for followbacks. I just can’t….And buying them is ridiculous. Promoting my work would be something else again, but I haven’t tried that either!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. It seems a slippery slope, no? You buy likes and follows and then you’re in and you have to keep buying. Or is it a one time transaction? It kinda defeats the purpose of what the whole thing is about. I’d rather have one real like than a thousand fake ones.

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  21. Double dipping here: I’ve been reading the comments left by others. You must have struck a nerve. People are leaving very informative comments. Now THAT’S the sign of a healthy readership. You won’t get that for $37!

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  22. Cyberspace Snake Oil Salesmen, HA! I had never heard of such a thing. Dude. What a trip. I can see how something like that might happen for publicity or PR stuff, trying to gain buzz, but do you really want that fake buzz? You want your stuff to genuinely be liked and to resonate and last. I can’t imagine any person buying something like that just to say I have so-so likes or follows, what is that? That’s the fake celebrity type of stuff I guess. I’m good with the small few I got. They do like me. Snake Oil Salesman, ha! Only seen one of them … watching Clint Eastwood in Josey Wales. I

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    • It was so funny. I meant to copy and paste one of their headers. They have all the prices and what they buy. When I went back to Twitter, they were GONE! Those Snake Oil Salesmen come and go in droves, probably regulated by a bot somewhere. I just found one. It goes from $29 for 1000 followers, to $219 for 100,000.
      Try it! Let me know if you make it back alive….

      Like

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