Many businesses know that social media marketing is the way to go in the golden age of technology. In the light of the many online contests targeted at the social media crowd, a rising (and dangerous) phenomenon is clear – are people resorting to buying likes online?
How online contests work:
Many online contests steered towards social media marketing take the easy route. The determining factor of picking a winner has to be undisputable, easily identifiable and transparent in the process. A clear way out would be to decide via the most likes on a photo or a post.
How it should not work:
With so many websites offering really cheap and competitive prices for buying of likes, it rigs the entire system. Contestants may resort to buying likes to boost their chances in winning an online competition.
Is it worth it?
How much can ‘likes’ cost? With the promise to deliver within hours, they offer an almost instantaneous way to victory. To some, it has become a form of investment. Unless the prizes are not worth the cost of the likes you buy, you are guaranteed to gain from this unscrupulous mean.
Who gets hurt?
Marketers who are responsible to run such contests are often blamed in the limelight. After all, it is almost seen as a way of promoting these unethical acts by propagating winners when they know (or at least, suspect) that dishonesty is prevalent. This also puts marketers in a difficult position – it may be easy to spot fake likes but it will not be easy to dispute it, on a case-by-case basis. If you remove the ‘most likes’ mechanism and disqualify people who buy likes, what difference will it make if someone were to buy likes for their competitors to get them ousted from the contest? It is an endless vicious cycle that really depends on one’s integrity.
Contestants who value honesty will definitely feel the unjust in this. This may change the game for people who know they will never stand a chance to others in terms of likes.
What can be done?
Since we know that this mechanism can be rigged, and popularity can be manipulated online, there is a need to change the existing system. Some contests still go by the soft way – commenting or sharing their reasons to win the contest with the best story/comment wins. Such a way may not be as viral or stimulating than what ‘most likes’ would achieve, but it awards the rightful winner of a contest, one with sincerity. Another way would be by a 50-50 weightage, one that does not solely rely on number of likes. However this will then raise the question of transparency in the deciding winning factor. There is the opportunity cost involved and it ultimately depends on the goals that are set to achieve from these online contests.
“If it’s not right, don’t do it.”
With the virtual world a business field, it becomes an intricate task to juggle the ethics and essential goals. While it is hard for both to co-exist, it is time for the internet to be a better place for all.