As soon as something becomes popular, someone tries to figure out how to make money on it. Nothing wrong with that… that is a free market in action.

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. are essentially free for the end user. The companies building and running them can't afford to do so forever without a revenue stream. So free means harvesting the data and selling it in some way, shape or form; and some advertising.

Businesses in general are experimenting with how to interact with customers and potential customers via these platforms. Some have been remarkably successful which is causing other businesses to take note and try and mimic their success.

This is tricky in social media as people use it to interact and connect with other people. It mimics and enhances people desire to connect with others, positively or negatively. Too much of the wrong thing can backfire.

One mechanism companies are using is to essentially buy, at least temporarily, attention from people. Giveaways, contests and discounts if you like a page on Facebook, Tweet or Retweet on Twitter, blog etc. Let's face it, we love free stuff or a good chance to win free stuff, even if we would never buy it normally.

Jeff Nelson (a savvy SEO and social media guy) from Anduro Marketing is running a campaign for one of his clients to show them the power of social media. (He asked us to help him out so I am doing a little case study on it as part of my blog because there is something to learn for any business owner.) In my opinion, this client is an excellent example of a company that can be successful on social media because it meets three key criteria:

  1. It is consumer focused,
  2. It is a high touch, relationship based business,
  3. It is the type of business that people come back to regularly.

The idea is to build and maintain the relationship on social media, not to ram advertising down your followers throats; or they will un "like" you faster than you can blink.

In case you are curious, the company being promoted is Oasis Spa and you can check out their Facebook page to understand their offer. I don't know the company myself and I am not a spa person. But if you or your business likes to give these things away, their promotion is for nice package "gift certificates" at three different levels. If nothing else you can see a campaign in the making and learn from it.

So does buying attention in social media work? It can if you structure it right and figure out how to connect longer term.

Does it work for you? Let me know in the comments.