Influencer Marketing has been the subject of intense debates with many choosing to take sides, some for, some against. The urge to ‘trend’ is hypnotic, often intoxicating. Should you give in to the desire to trend?

What is the truth behind getting paid for copy-pasting tweets? Is it really a viable option? Yes, why not!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would have seen discussion and debate on “paid” hashtags – trends that are achieved via spam-tweeting scripted tweets. These simulate popularity, and trick the Twitter trend algorithm into believing that the hashtag is a genuinely popular conversation. See this story on Livemint or go to Twitter right now and check a few trends.

Leaving the debate on the rights and wrongs of this tactic aside, I’m going out on a limb and propose that you adopt these techniques as well. Here are ten reasons you should.

1. It’s cheap: Twitter will ask you for an arm and a leg for a promoted trend. Pay a fraction of this amount to a cottage industry of hired tweeters and you can trend for a day or two for as low as INR 18,000 per trend. The last offer I got was around INR 22,000 for a day, with a guarantee that it will trend nationally.

2. It’s no-questions-asked : If you want to throw slime on your competitors and business opponents, there’s little you can do on organized media. Google, Twitter, and Facebook, and most other publishers and media houses are quite careful about brand violation and will generally not allow you to use trademarks that you do not own. But no such rules apply when you are employing spam influencers. So throw as much slime as you like – as long as you are not personally abusive and use cuss words, you can go on and on.

3. It has plausible deniability: The best thing about this tactic is that there’s plausible deniability. It’s useful to have, if you’ve read reason #2. If you are an agency, you only need to tell your client that you’ll get them trending by his/her most committed supporters.

If in the rare chance a client does ask you a question or two, you can easily deny that these are paid spam. You can convince him/her that it’s just committed and vocal fans who are tweeting #brandlove spontaneously. After all, which marketer doesn’t like to hear that?

4. It’s practically untraceable: After demonetization, many of us have turned honest-to-goodness citizens and seamlessly moved on to digital payments. But all large organizations with significant brand spends and rostered global agencies never paid in cash anyway, and most definitely cannot be seen as paying directly to the cottage industry that peddles spam-tweet trends.

These are usually an informal set of individuals, and influencer marketplaces are yet to get established as direct vendors (afaik). So the agency outsources this to a smaller agency who act as a go-between. If some pesky twitter-inhabitants-turned-investigative-journalists asks, read reason #3. It’s #brandlove!

5. Saves brainwork: Creating a hashtag campaign with spam influencers doesn’t require too much grey matter. All you have to do is to create a few meaningless 140 character sentences send it to the influencers, with some clear instructions on timing and submission. That’s about it. In fact, no one down the chain requires to use the upper storey at all.

6. It can get you impressive metrics: After the hashtag campaign is over, it’s fairly easy to get the numbers. If you have a listening tool, use it. Some free tools like Topsy or Hashtracking will also work to a limited extent. You can also use Twitter’s own analytics tools to crank out some fairly impressive numbers.

Create a nice infographic with Twitter birds and Facebook likes. Highlight the “reach” figure and that “million” next to it. Once you have sent to the client, who will obviously be happy, send it to yourself with a CC to the rest of the organization.

Add a pithy line, like “hard work gets you results” or some such. Also, tweet it and post it on Facebook so that your admirers can admire you. Encourage your client to do the same and ensure he has you, your boss and his boss in CC or mentions.

7. Provides employment: Hashtag campaigns are essentially repetitive tasks that can be done by anyone with reasonable internet and cut-paste skills. For Rs 100 a tweet, this is gainful employment and a decent ROI on an English medium school-level education.

If not for such campaigns, many young people of our country would otherwise be idling away, watching inspirational or self-help videos on YouTube and outraging on unnecessary media-driven issues on social media. In your own way, you’re contributing to the nation’s economic growth.

8. Mistakes will be overlooked: If you took point #6 a little too seriously and didn’t use the grey matter at all and did a booboo – for example, you had lady tweeters talking about beard trimmers or men tweeting their love for epilators – don’t worry. No one’s going to notice.

9. It is therapeutic: After a few campaigns which follow the above pointers (particularly #7), you will start believing in your own genius. You will grow in confidence as the list of “campaigns delivered” on your resume and LinkedIn profile gets larger and larger.

10. It can get you awards: A few campaigns like this and you will be among the “Top 50 Most Influential Marketers” awardees around this time next year. Accept the award, post a Selfie, enjoy.

Haroon Bijli

#sarcasm


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