A Friend-ly Word!

The Beatles sang about how they could not buy themselves love. Some people say the same thing – and add that it’s not for want of trying. It is pathetic to see the lengths to which some people will go in order to try and purchase themselves love – or friends.

Staff who worked in a particular school will tell you how a girl actually bought a bicycle for a classmate of hers. They lived in the same block of flats – and since she had nits, no one would play with her during break at school. So she pilfered money from her mother and her brother, and when she had enough, audaciously walked into the shop (this was pieced together later) and said that her mother was very sick, and since it was her birthday, she wanted her to get the bike anyway.

The bicycle was left in the common under-stairs area, with everyone wondering whose it was, but nobody doing any asking about it; the boy somehow managed to use it without arousing anyone’s suspicions.

The girl’s mother then decided that they were going to move into her new partner’s house – and the boy did not want to relinquish his treat. And the fat was in the fire.

Meanwhile, it still seems that whereas you cannot be too thin or too rich, there are instances where you can have too many friends. Ask anyone who tried to poach and cadge the friend of friends on his facebook pages! Ask those pathetic people who actually invent people in order to appear popular, and spend a good hour sending notes from one self-identity to another. Ask the self-styled personalities who open one profile after another, with or without slightly different spellings for their name – or, eventually, resort to “Fan Pages”.

The urban myth of the hundredth monkey has been proven false – but at least on facebook, the fact that 5,001 friends are one too many, remains true. Incidentally, I do not even have 700 friends on facebook – although I certainly have hundreds more in real life.

Someone – as usually happens – saw a brilliant marketing opportunity in this, and found a way to increase one’s friends (or fans) database without incurring the wrath of the facebook administration.

There is just one proviso – this will only be one at a cost. So unless you have more money than sense, or you desperately need the prestige, or sitting ducks for your advertising campaigns. The idea is to create a customised database such as those which are created for newsletters – only here the potential for brand recognition would be greater, because the friends-of-3,000-friends would see, literally “the writing on the Wall”! The service is also available for Twitter.

This is just like when you receive e-mails from people whom you have never met, offering you lists of “4,000 dentists in Italy” or “Beauty and Culinary schools in California”.

To quote from the company’s brochure, “Every person we deliver to your account will be targeted to your industry or interest group, as well as by country, meaning that you will be able to expect $1 per person, per month in marketing power. To give you an example, once we deliver you 1,000 fans, you will be able to earn $1000 in marketing revenue from them each and every month, providing you’re going about it the right way…”

But it remains to be seen whether the target groups will take the bait. Of course it is tempting to reply to people’s comments even when you are pressed for time. It is difficult top resist giving unwarranted advice, or pulling someone’s leg, or indulging in a bit of gossip, or posting a link to an interesting article, or a contest.

The question remains – would you want to be friends with anyone who has “bought” your friendship – albeit paying someone else, and not you, for it? Would you want to be part of a targeted flock of consumer sheep? Or, as was said of tricky Dickey Nixon, “Would you buy a used car from this man?

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