Everyone knows lying is bad. However, when it comes to selling services the line between fact and fiction gets blurred in trying to paint the best picture. My favorite example of this is the food label, “Fat Free” to imply something is “healthy.” In the blogging world, often times statistics are padded, publishers advertise their traffic in Page Views rather than Unique Visits often times because advertising is paid per impression. Another way you see padding with social media is by rounding up follower counts, and some even go as far as purchasing fake followers to look more legitimate.
The Alarm Bells
Every now and then, whether it be in an article about a blogger's traffic or in a media kit, you'll see a statistic that doesn't ring right. The times when my alarm bells go off happen when the traffic numbers are high, like 300,000 visitors a month or once I heard 26 million, but they had a low comment count, minimal social media shares on posts, moderate Twitter following. It shows that either the traffic statistic is false, or that the blogger has a transient and unengaged audience.
How The Marketing Industry Double Checks Stats
While there is no absolute way of knowing traffic of another website, it's relatively easy to look at traffic and ranking websites to see if the data makes sense. The Marketing and PR industry often has subscriptions to Cision which offers traffic and contact information. However, there are free sites like Compete, Quantcast, WebsiteLooker, Statshow, and sometimes Google Ad Planner that offer statistics on traffic. If a site is big enough, Alexa offers information on rankings, demographics and keywords. None of these sites paints an exact picture, but it's relatively standard in the industry to research bloggers and look at traffic, and social influence stats before contacting a blogger for a potential marketing campaign.
The same goes for social media. Say a Twitter account goes from 1,500 to 40,000 seemingly overnight, or if a Twitter profile has a large “following” but they are not known within the industry, nor does their website have any interaction, something is fishy. Analytic sites like Status People's Fakers and Topsy are both great tools to measure the organic nature (or fakeness) of a Twitter profile. It's only a matter of time before these types of analytics tools come out for other platforms.
Why Telling The Truth Matters
I don't want to write about the virtues of honesty. Sure, not everyone researches, analyzes, or even know how to check stats. Many brands, journalists and even bloggers don't know about the tools out there that can either give your proposals and media kits credibility. However, a growing number are learning and are quite savvy when it comes to social media statistics. These statistics are what go into the reports that are presented in budget meetings, campaign meetings and they do make the difference when being chosen for a campaign. High traffic stats might justify charging higher rates, but if the stats aren't real and the results are lackluster, you won't have a returning client.
Fear of getting caught shouldn't be a reason for telling the truth. Today the chances of our statistics and references being checked are greater than ever. So unless you're prepared to lose your credibility, don't lie about your traffic.
Love this article! its true many bloggers claim to have a traffic that its not tangible at all! (likes/comments/shares, etc) yet they get booked for things. thats the awful part, thst even if ppl are buying followers, some companies are all about the “numbers” rather than the quality. I LOVE status people, Im all the time using it to check brands, pr agencies and know if there is really a benefit for me or not!
I love that one of my favourite girls said (again) exactly what I think before I did xx
I so agree. As a blogger myself, it’s become easy to spot people who are padding their stats. Though it probably does some short term good, it can only harm you in the long run.
I agree 100%. As a blogger, my honesty and integrity is of the utmost importance to me, and I would never lie about my stats. As you stated Jennine, getting caught is not the only reason to tell the truth, but I can guarantee that you will get caught eventually. It could ruin your entire reputation with brands and your audience. I actually had a well-known brand contact me, tell me how excited they were to partner with me and ask for my stats. Once I shared them, they politely said that the timing wasn’t right and maybe we would work together in the future (I still have yet to hear back from them). I quickly realized it was because they wanted to work with bloggers with much more traffic. For a split second, I thought maybe I should have given them higher numbers, but I quickly realized I had done the right thing. I would never want to do ANYTHING that would jeopardize my integrity as a blogger and as a person.
So great to hear Jenny and you definitely made the right decision. I love your blog and your style.. Def. one of my faves.. Have a great weekend! Xo-Jewel
I really cannot imagine lying about my stats, that seems like such a silly thing to do if you care about the integrity of your blog. I haven’t seen many people who’ve done this but perhaps I am just blind to it since I am so upfront about my stats!
I think this is true about everything, including buying Facebook likes and Twitter followers, lying about things you do, buy, etc. If you get caught, you are going to be considered a liar. It’s not worth it!
It`s really fascinating what http://fakers.statuspeople.com/ reveals!
Just check garancedore and you`ll see that only 34% of her followers are good! So much for “credible & honest” fashion “bloggers”…*roll eyes*
(If you`d like a comparison, check my account, dchighfashion , and you`ll see that 99% of my followers are good!)
Thx for sharing all the useful links in the article!
hahha love this post!! why lie?! it’ll be so embarassing when you’re caught out. I’m not ashamed of my views, I’ve only started and im still learning and gradually my unique visitors are growing so i aint gon’ lie at all hahah, thanks IFB!!
That interesting, I cant believe people buy follower o.o. What is the point? I have like maybe a handful of true readers as my blog is new. Its like I keep saying. i rather have 10 legit readers who engage with me then 100 readers who never care to reply yo my post.
Great article and really sheds light on the situation. As a business school graduate, I think that it is important to change the way we measure success. Two years ago “followers” and “likes” were relevant but now that people know how to work the system, quality is what should matter.
Style insights and fashion business learnings:
I would never even think about lying about my site traffic. It is way to easy for others to find out otherwise, and your reputation would suffer. I would rather have a small, but engaged following, over a ton of meaningless followers anyday.
Did anyone try to find out their traffic with the tools provided?
How much do they tell the truth about your traffic?
As for being honest.. just as with all the other advises given to beginner bloggers – they sound good, but so many of big names who are very successful do exactly the opposite. That’s when you start to wonder and that’s where your consciousness is your only guide.
My stats differ greatly between Google Analytics and Quantcast (and I’m looking at the lowest number/unique visitors for GA vs. the highest for QC). Hmmm… I have no idea what that means. Is Google making something up? I don’t believe that because I see the thing people are doing and it’s coming from more people than Quantcast says. I’m confused.
I’ve tried it out, to see if the traffic is shown right on the sites you mentioned. But they are far from the truth. They only show about 10% of the visitors I really have in a day :S
I’m a brand new blogger. I’ve been looking for the kind of rank pages provided in this article. I used them to look at my site as well as other sites. It amazes me how many visitors you have to get per month if you expect to make any money in google revenue. I now have a more realistic view. Statsshow.com was the best one – just fyi. I would have never attempted to lie about my stats. I’m glad I read this article for the page ranking info, though.
I am new to Blogging, but I make sure to choose Good and Real Bloggers in my friends circle. I too have met many bloggers who boost and show off their fake stats, cheques and all. I would never want to be one of them
Yes..Never lie regarding the traffic to the website..I do this once when I was new in my Blogging field and caught after that I really Feel very shamed about it…
I am new to Blogging, but I make sure to choose Good and Real Bloggers in my friends circle. so i can find real people.
Honesty is important, but not for every blogger. How is it possible that a blog is not even ranked by Alexa and then after few weeks it’s high positioned with very good stats, bounce rate etc? It can’t be possible, that’s why I’m sure lots of people, even the most famous blogger, lie and increase their stats. There’re bloggers who gain 100,000 followers a week and the likes and the comments are the same… It’s sad but blogger world is becoming totally faked. False twitter, fb, instagram, pinterest followers, all for the money.
This is so true! Buffing up numbers and buying likes is gonna do you no good. I know so many bloggers who have advertised on facebook to increase likes..