When you think of the Social Marketing landscape as a city, you see a lot of beautiful, innovative and glitzy buildings, whole business districts powered by the Social Web, public squares where people discuss freely with brands and communities that try to make the world a better place.

You walk past these beauties and suddenly the landscape turns ugly and desolate. Small communities filled with abandoned Twitter feeds and Facebook pages, big loudspeakers blasting out commercial messages to no living soul, communities disappearing before our eyes because they were built on quicksand.

And then you enter Snake Plissken’s island.

It’s a world filled with anarchy, impenetrable walls that make it hard for people from the outside to see what’s going inside and it’s an unethical world. In this world, you can buy Facebook fans by the thousands. You can ask them to “like” your brand in exchange for goods. They give you options to download your pricey apps in exchange for credits. Need 10,000 more LinkedIn fans? That creepy guy with the fedora and mink coat can help you. Have to pump up your follower number on Twitter by 100,000? Enter the greasy door next to the red neon sign, flashing “Open”. It’s a shanty town comprised of people who work for improvised, unsustainable companies that might go out of business any day.

An island filled with bottom-feeders, preying on the innocent. And supporting the cynical and unethical marketers.

Once again: It’s about quality, not quantity

Agencies are under immense pressure to perform, to deliver measurable results. Just like paid media campaigns, Social Marketing initiatives can fail. It’s part of our business. But, clients need wins. They need (and should require) incremental profits. Or, at least they need a good metric to communicate a win to executive management.

55,000 new “likes” in a month sounds great, right?

100,000 new followers on Twitter must translate to some sales, correct?

250,000 views on YouTube is worth something, isn’t it?

Fact is, these bottom feed feeders deliver nothing more than a number. More often than not, these new followers will unfollow you within a week or so. Or they’re just bots. One thing I can guarantee: They will NEVER buy your product. They will NEVER read your status updates. They will NEVER join the conversation. They will NEVER be of any value.

I get pitches from Snake Plissken’s island each and every day. Your agency does, too.

Just make sure they never paid a visit to the island. If they did, make sure you escape from that agency as fast as you can.