From around 1960 to the late 1980s, Japan had one of the highest economic growth rates in the world. Their stock market bubble was fueled by a Japanese corporate invention, known as "zaitech," or "Financial Engineering"-- after obtaining low-interest loans, corporations were easily able to raise funds on the markets, which were often recycled into further speculative market activities again and again.
The Japanese stock market zoomed higher and corporations reported their speculative profits as increased earnings. Of course, investors purchased more stock, driving prices higher still, providing more funds for the continued speculative success.
By the end of the decade, it was estimated that up to 50% of total reported profits from Japan's largest corporations were derived from "zaitech". Inevitably, the stock market fell and crashed. Throughout the 1990s, Japan paid the price; it experienced slower growth than any other major industrial nation.
For many businesses today, social media has become a similar false goal. Companies pay for, ply, finnagle and pad their social media totals in a vain attempt to appear cool, desirable or popular. It's an empty effort that will ultimately fail. Being voted 'Most Popular' offers little substance to those who wish to be your friend, and it's an empty title when perpetrated through pay or leverage.
Great content delivered in the proper context still delivers reach and frequency in whatever channels you pursue, including digital. If done right it can lead to unprecedented reach and success in an increasingly social online world.
But be cautious. Your name, your brand, your reputation is, as Socrates said, "like fire; when once you have kindled it you may easily preserve it, but if you once extinguish it, you will find it an arduous task to rekindle it again. The way to a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.”