Can our company, can we, can I, just fake it in social networking? Can we have several straw men accounts, some sock puppets -- or should we keep it all real?

can doesn't
equal should
Keeping it real can seem so costly. There is all that time and energy and, again, time that you have to invest. And how can anyone be genuinely interested in everyone on your list at the same time anyway?

The good news is, yes, you can fake it. No problem. Some people can fake it better than you and I can do it for real.

Same happens offline, right? Some sales people are way outdone by conmen selling the San Francisco bridge or plots of land on Mars or drilling rights off the coast of Atlantis.

That it can be done isn't the same as it should be done.

Should I be fake? Should our company be fake? That is the question you should ask. The answer follows from there.

REASONS TO BE FAKE

The main reason to contemplate being fake is the notion that it is cost-effective. Less time, less human resources invested in writing tweets, status updates and what not. Less time, less human resources invested in responding to people. Less time interacting. Less time: cheaper.

Another reason is to seem more popular. More people talking about us! More people agreeing with us! More people boosting our product!

REASONS TO BE REAL

Real is good because real is easy. It's simple. It's effective and most of the time efficient.

real is cheaperReal doesn't need persona. Without persona there is no need for continuity: you are what you are, your employees are who they say they are.

No continuity-checking means less time spent on entering details (how old is this fake user? gender? kids or not? did she grow up in Dallas or was that London? Did I tweet that she hates spaghetti; I should enter that too!).

3E: EASY, EFFECTIVE, EFFICIENT

Just keep is Easy, Effective and Efficient. It is better to engage "for real" a couple of times a day than "fake!" all day.

Your company's resources -- your resources -- are better used having real conversations with real people. If you can't invest that minimum of 15-30 minutes a day (yet), then "social" might not be for you.

Do you think there's a place for "fake" in social networking? What does that look like?