Purchasing FB Likes or Instagram or Twitter followers for your product or company social media pages might seem like a rapid way to increase brand awareness, but always comes hand in hand with great risk to reputation. Recently, ABC aired a report on Click Farms, showing row upon row of mobile phones used to generate fake activity, or dark, smoky rooms lit only by computer screens filled with IT professionals looking to make a quick buck. Fake social media activity is big business, the majority of them operating from sites all over the Asian continent.
While social media platforms are known to sweep through their signups looking for fake accounts, their efforts are often lacking when faced with the task of removing the millions of fake registrations that fill them. Instagram is making the most headway, recently suing New Zealand’s Social Media Series Limited for its role in the generation of fake Instagram activity. In Europe, a political party in Belgium had to deal with the embarrassment of the discovery of 10,000 likes from India. In the United States, it is calculated that 60% of Donald Trump’s Twitter followers are fake. So, is it time to jump on the bandwagon?
Expensive and damaging
Companies, influencers, brands … thousands of organisations are constantly looking for ways to make their social media pages stand out. Startups in particular find an initial fake boost worth considering – after all, it can take months or years to build up an organic following. Buying likes certainly seems like a quick fix to the age-old problem of increasing one’s presence within either a target or generic market, but is it worth the price?
The short, succinct answer is ‘no’. Absolutely not. In fact, the result is more often than not a negative one. While buying likes might create a short-term buzz, any business looking towards the future would do well to steer clear. Future software will be able to highlight fake followers with ease, immediately damaging any long-term organic headway your business has made. Not to mention what will happen should you get caught. A deleted account, the loss of a big chunk of your marketing budget, and back to square one.
Algorithms – friend or foe?
Even though your Facebook page is just one of millions, the explosion of anything fake in recent years has also created a consumer group that isn’t so easy when it comes to having the wool pulled over their eyes. While an online review, whether a thumbs up, five stars, or a long-winded description, was enough to convince the average consumer a few years ago, this is no longer the case. Around 15% of users are highly suspicious of any type of review. This percentage will grow until the easy discovery and subsequent death of fake news, reviews and social media followers or likes. Algorithms which sniff out the random behaviours of fake accounts are improving and easily (and cheaply) available. While every social media page will have its share of fake followers, this is not always appreciated by those that wish to protect a healthy reputation. Software designed to sift through follower lists and weed out those that are unlikely to be genuine is implemented across the globe. In which case, why is buying fake Facebook likes such a popular and lucrative business?
Let’s just say that very few reputable and trustworthy companies use this ploy. In fact, the largest clients appear to be the political world, short-term sellers and private clients looking to impress their friends. These groups are unfortunately known neither for their honesty nor their reliability.
There’s another reason why buying Facebook likes will not create the short-term effect one might imagine. Due to the Facebook Edgerank algorithm, not every follower sees every update. Instead, a user’s behaviours are tracked and the most applicable updates appear on their screen. This is a frustrating algorithm for businesses, made even more frustrating when half of one’s followers are not real. If only 10% of your followers are selected to receive your latest update, further limiting this amount due to paying money for followers that will never read it is completely counterproductive.
The more likes, the better?
When considering future growth, it is dangerous to imagine your target audience is unaware of the ways in which growth can be artificially created. Sites such as Fuelgram have been operating for years, allowing software to take over real user accounts before proceeding to like every other account which has paid for this service. Wondering why that nonsensical Facebook message has become so popular?
But isn’t that what you want? Popularity without lifting a finger?
Thanks to sites like these, your company may be tempted to make a choice. Do you pay to become the biggest thing online in the shortest time possible, no matter what the content, or do you invest in quality design, perfect advertising, cracking content and a top-rate marketing team to slowly push your brand towards popularity. The right choice is certainly not the easiest, and probably more expensive.
What happens when a piece of worthless content becomes viral? The consumer simply blocks the source.
Genuine organic growth in Facebook likes should be the only choice in the commercial world. If you are looking to wow friends on a personal Facebook account, buying likes will get you there. However, if you supply a service or a product, or are standing for prime minister, this road is taking you through a colourless land peppered with the risk of deleted accounts, loss of reputation, and wasted funds.
Why do you have a Facebook account?
The reason most businesses have social media accounts is to share information with potential clients or customers. Social media pages give the opportunity to build up a relationship with followers who have already shown an interest in what you have to offer. A Facebook page is therefore a valuable part of any online marketing strategy. It should be a personable page representative of your company. It should be unique, friendly, informative and helpful. Its goal is to generate leads and stimulate genuine interest. If you are thinking of buying likes, you have lost sight of the goal of your Facebook or alternative social media page.
This goal should always be in the forefront of your marketing team’s mind. One hundred interested followers, a number which slowly but surely shares your name with friends, are significantly more valuable than one thousand bought likes. Bought likes won’t spread the word.
Promoting your Facebook page
When designing your company Facebook page, there are a number of ways in which you can make it more efficient, helpful and delightfully genuine:
1. Use other channels to promote your Facebook page – a website banner, a section of your newsletter, your storefront window
2. Encourage satisfied customers, genuine followers, friends and family to spread the word by offering Like & Share competitions, add an easy to use share button, or send them a simple request to share, please
3. Invest in a Facebook advertising campaign. This doesn’t have to be expensive. Organic growth is a slower process, but reaps so many more rewards
4. If you do not have your own marketing team, hire a professional who doesn’t recommend buying likes or followers on your social media pages. If they do, state your preference for genuine, organic growth
Facebook Likes – keeping them real
If you aren’t convinced that you shouldn’t buy a few thousand likes, you might want to invest in two Facebook pages and compare the results. However, beware of the connotation of the failures of one affecting the successes of the other.
If your product or service is worth talking about, organic growth will always create more turnover in the long-term. Buying Facebook likes is a flash in the pan solution in terms of growth, interest and awareness, as well as in the lifespan of this option as anti-fake algorithms continue to be developed. However, the long-term effects of implementing anything none-genuine on your public profile can more than cancel out the initial boost.