To celebrate its growing Facebook audience, Porsche has unveiled a special 911 Carrera 4S that was created based on the votes curated from its burgeoning social community.

The distinctive 911 features an Aquablaumetallic paint finish with personalised inner-door sill guards with blue illumination. White painted 20-inch Carrera S wheels are fitted together with the ‘Aerokit Cup’ package, consisting of a front apron with additional front spoiler lip and a new rear lid with fixed spoiler.

The move is in response to growing the number of its Facebook likes to 5-million and follows the earlier ‘Thank You’ gesture at 1-million likes – where a signature-laden 911 GT3-R Hybrid was built, and at 2-million likes, when the faces of its fans were plastered over a Cayman S.

The gesture doesn’t stop there though. Now that the car is built, Porsche are inviting fans to step up and boost its social persona even further – and this is where it gets a little icky – Porsche is running a competition to win the chance to drive the car at the Porsche Experience Centre at Silverstone.

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All you need to do is to show them (and everyone else) how many ‘public’ Porsche fans you have in your Facebook friend-list. The user with the highest number of Porsche Facebook fans in his or her friend-list will then win the unique trip to Silverstone.

The runners-up – in second place through to tenth – will receive a 1:43 scale model of the 911 Carrera 4S “5M Porsche Fans” vehicle for their own (model) car collection.

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So, let me get this straight. Porsche are incentivising people to recruit more fans to like its page, thereby boosting its reputation – they even go so far as posting instructions on how ‘your friends’ can adjust their settings on Facebook in order for their affiliation to be seen publicly.

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While it’s all within Facebook’s terms and conditions, they’re treading a fine line between engagement and fan acquisition. The very integrity of the message they’re conveying (5 million fans) is seemingly brought into question by their eagerness to acquire even more.

Social media metrics have steadily been moving away from quantifying followers and likes as indicators of success, towards methods of showcasing loyalty, advocacy and engagement such as shares, reposts, retweets, conversions and participation.

In my experience, Porsche does rather better than most car brands in fostering such engagement (with 54,000 users entering their 5M competition), so it’s disappointing to see Facebook likes still being touted as an achievement.

A recent Despatches programme on Channel 4 demonstrated what those in the business have known for a very long time – ‘click farms’ operating in Bangladesh and other sweat-shop countries have been gaming the system, faking Facebook ‘likes’, YouTube ‘views’ and Twitter ‘followers’. The volumes are huge, the money it takes to buy such reputations very little.

SEE ALSO: Ferrari says ‘thank you’ to its 10 million Facebook fans with a Tooned-like animation (w/VIDEO).

We live in a world where brands can’t wait to build a positive profile, so they cut corners and blur the line between organic growth and paid promotion.

Now I’m not suggesting Porsche are acquiring fake fans, but the simple fact is many brands are, therefore the value of fan numbers as a commodity is rapidly becoming worthless. Popularity sells, but can also be bought, which undermines the brands which choose to use such metrics to boost their reputation.

Porsche are better than that. So while the engagement value of a fan-specified 911 is to be applauded, Porsche should know better than use a metric that’s become so discredited.