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MySpace Friend Adders Revisited

My last installment detailed how some MySpace users use “friend adders” to boost their numbers. I looked down on the practice as pure and simple cheating. Since then I’ve talked to a couple friends who use friend adder software in a targeted way to reach potential fans. In their cases, a high friend count is an indirect byproduct of their promotional efforts, rather than an end in itself.

Being the seasoned investigative journalist that I am, I had to see it with my own eyes. Last night I downloaded the demo version of FriendBlasterPro, which I’m not going to endorse with a link. Color me impressed.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with my music, my sixth CD is a full-length tribute to Depeche Mode. In less than a minute, the software gathered 1000 MySpace profiles through Google using “Depeche Mode” as a search term. Without the need of a manual, I set the software to send out friend invites with a short note suggesting that they might enjoy listening to the two DM covers posted on my profile. Then I set it to automatically follow up with a cautiously apologetic message telling them about the album in greater detail. I pressed the start button and watched it fly.

My first thought was that I’d been an idiot for ever doing this sort of thing “by hand” in the past. Within five minutes, it sent friend invites and follow-up messages to 50 users, the limit for the demo version. I went to bed worried that my account might be frozen or deleted when I awoke, or that I’d get a bunch of angry responses from annoyed Depeche Mode fans, or worse yet, users who weren’t Depeche Mode fans.

Quite the contrary, I had about 20 new friends and a handful of positive profile comments and private messages, like this one:

myspace_response

My first experiment in automated marketing was a success! From all appearances, I reached people that were genuinely happy to hear from me and count me as a “friend.”

Rumor is that MySpace only allows you to add 500 friends per day, and even that number might not be safe. Tales abound of users who have had their accounts frozen, never to send out friend requests or even comment on profiles again. But the single most important development suggesting the golden era of friend adders has ended is the CAPTCHA. No longer can an automated system send out thousands of friend requests per day unattended, because a human is required to decipher the twisted letters.

If you’re not worried about the moral implications, I’ve got an even better way to do it. Create a new account using a made-up female name and a very attractive, but not too sexy, profile pic (think Tina Fey). Send out personal-sounding notes from that profile about “this great band my friend told me about” to male users only, asking them to “write back and let me know what you think.” I’m not willing to go that far myself, but my gut tells me it would be quite effective.

How do I know? Because I received an e-mail like that a couple years ago, and still have it saved in my inbox. I knew it wasn’t legit, but that doesn’t make it any less ingenious.

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9 Comments

  • Reply
    Brandon
    December 17, 2008 at 11:59 am

    Had to put my .02 on here as well. I still use a friend adder, but it’s not as automatic as you’d think. I fill out each individual capture myself, and I check out the music of thepeople I add when I can. It’s very very time consuming. I probably spend 1-7 hours marketing a day, but i definitely have days off where im at work or just doing music.

    I stick to friend requests at the moment as I think it is the least obtrusive way to get listeners. I hate being bothered by someone with subpar music myself, and that is all too often. I guess I still believe in the adage of “let the music speak for itself” so that’s what I try to do.

    Some people use friend adders as their sole means of marketing success. I use it as a tool to aid in my grand picture of things. It helps me add only users who share my music influences or are fans of the same people i’m a fan of. Just like how you targeted a couple people that were fans of the band you had covers for, I target only people I think would genuinely like my music, and the response is much better than any shotgun blast marketing i’ve heard of.

  • Reply
    Dax
    December 18, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    I had a friend adder for a while and really enjoyed it. I made a lot of new fans. However, I did get a warning from myspace that said I was suspected of spamming and one more incident and they’d close my account. I haven’t used it ever since. It’s just to risky.

  • Reply
    rachael
    December 26, 2008 at 10:22 am

    Such an interesting post, and blog.

    I have always poo poo’d the friend adder idea, I basically looked down on it for not collecting ‘authentic’ friends.

    Your post gave me another insight to the technology though.

    My issues were similar to yours, I didn’t want to be a pushy spammer. (I dislike sub for sub posts too). I like that you approached people with respect and were not, ‘in your face’. I can see that used correctly, it is merely a tool to do more of what you are already doing.

    So thats progress I guess. I still don’t think I’m in the market for the program though, but I do appreciate the insight. It looks to be a great thing, so long as people use it with respect.

    Myself, I use You Tube not mySpace. I get 3-5 new subscribers a week, unbidden, they just show up in my mailbox. Thats because I socialize on You Tube. (My recording format is a video camera not a recording studio, I call it my virtual scrapbook).

    When I get online, I watch a couple of videos and comment on them if I like them (if I can’t say something nice, I don’t). A viewer may notice my comment and comes to look at my channel, some of them subscribe. Occassionally, someone even posts or features a video of mine that they like, which then introduces me to all of their freinds.

    It pays to meet and make friendly with You Tubers who are good collaborators or promoters.

    Of course like My Space, on You Tube, what MOSTLY matters is if you have good content. The categories and styles are vast, but so is the audience.

    I am mildly successful at it because I have some cute or funny videos. They are not pro, they are home movies, but I have managed to capture some cool moments on film and people seem to like them. (try: Fancy Tail on You Tube, and use my name if you need more search terms )

    I also post my rough drafts of songs, which is perplexing to ‘industry’ friends that only put out polished diamonds. But not everyone has a desire to be a recording artist, not everyone needs a stadium, someone has to sit around the campfire and just sing songs.
    (however, a great background vox gig on a theatre or festival tour, would be be AWESOME)

  • Reply
    Todd Durrant
    January 1, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Though I’ve not used a friend adder, I thought your comment about “get a picture of a beautiful girl” fake profile thing was funny. I get several of those every week requesting friendship. I add everybody, but I never once click to look at those profiles or even experience a momentary hiccup of curiosity because I know what they are instinctively…bait. The moment you see a profile with a name like “Sasha Love” and some supermodel photo, you know it’s somebody selling something. Or…I guess it might work if you were marketing to a certain demographic of lonely men???

    -Todd

  • Reply
    njm
    January 7, 2009 at 11:23 am

    I just wanted to jump in and say I’m enjoying reading you here. I found you from searching ‘muze’ in cdbaby’s q-n-a.
    I don’t do the myspace scene personally but like to learn about all angles.
    Starting to catch up on your previous posts now and like what read.
    That’s all. Thanks and keep posting!

  • Reply
    Netvalar
    March 17, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    The 2 big issues to be concerned about on Myspace using a automated system such as friend adder is

    1- Based on previous activity the number of active things you do may get you flagged (i.e. buletins, friend requests sent, messeging, commenting)
    2- If 400 people flag any of your posts as spam in a short period of time(24 hrs I think though could be longer) you get flagged.

    With that in mind think about your combined activity reduce it as much as possible, try to stay under 400 posts of anytype in a 24 hr period of time.

    I like to think of letting people know about your music and give them the option to send you a friend request. Also to attempt to only send to people who are truly interested I would shoot for only those who leave comments on artists profiles that have a similar sound to yours.

    Great article though and good investigative reporting, I myself am still investigating the whole idea of things like friend adders before actually suggesting the use to any musician.

  • Reply
    Gio
    March 21, 2009 at 10:51 am

    hey add me 😉

  • Reply
    gabriel
    September 9, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    that’s a toughie, because on my regular myspace account, I get so many generic requests from bands and I barely have time to listen to them to even see if they are good or if I even do like them… and rarely do I like them… and I know they are using bots, how else can a crappy band with 100 friends get 5000 plays a day. So I think of the casual user on the other end… what would they actually benefit from? It’d be a great idea to offer a few free downloads (no sweat off your/my back, especially if you gain a new fan in the process) when requesting people to do the work to actually go to your page and take time to listen. reverbnation.com has a cool widget that allows a free download when you type in your email address… pretty sweet.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    September 9, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    I approve basically all friend requests unless they are from a club, because I don’t want the hassle of blocking their invitations. I just check to make sure there are no personal notes in the friend request list, and then approve all.

    In the nine months since I wrote this article, my emphasis has shifted from MySpace to Facebook and Twitter. Still, I’ve noticed that other sites, blogs, or media outlets link to my MySpace page instead of my web site by default, so I suppose I should maintain it. Currently I log in once per week, on Friday.

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