Written by Effie Ioannou on October 17th, 2015 13:52
So, you just started a new project or business venture and created a Facebook page to let the world know about it. The problem is, your new Facebook page only has 3 or 4 likes (hi mum!), making it look small and insignificant. Organic growth can be slow, and unexciting, and you knowmore people will follow your page if they saw that it was more popular — after all, the content will be great!
So you begin to contemplate buying likes, to add “social proof” to convince others your page is legit, and they should like it too.
In this post, I’ll explain why buying “fake” likes can be a really bad idea, and can actually harm your marketing efforts for the long term.
Just to clarify, I’m talking about bulk-buying likes from the 3rd party vendors you see on websites like Fiverr. Paying to increase your page’s following using Facebook’s own ads platform can be an effective way to grow your audience, but I’ll cover that in another post.
When you buy likes from a 3rd party, what you’re mostly likely buying are automated likes from fake accounts, and/or accounts based in countries where human labour is extremely cheap (India, Philippines, Brazil, etc.). To understand why this is a problem, you need to have a basic understanding of how Facebook’s Timeline algorithms work.
Typically, when a post is shared by a Facebook page, this post is not displayed to everyone who has liked the page at once. Instead, Facebook will show the post to a very small percentage of your followers (as low as 5%) to determine whether the post is of interest to this particular audience. If the post has a high level of engagement (likes, clicks, and shares), then Facebook will share it with a larger portion of your audience. If a post has low engagement, it never makes it to the timeline of the rest of your audience.
If the majority of your page’s likes are from inactive,fake, or even disinterested Facebook accounts, the posts you share are likely to receive no engagement whatsoever.
Over time, pages that regularly have low engagement are marked down as being of little interest, making it ever harder to gain visibility on your audience’s Timeline in future.
The knock-on effect is that the genuine customers/followers who actually would have liked your post, will likely never see it either.
However, if you have real followers then they probably will engage and support your cause or products. And when they do engage, comment or likeyour posts, they will bring on more genuine followers.
This of course has implications for other common-practice tactics, which I’ll explain further below. But first…
If you already have bought fake likes, don’t despair. Facebook will likely remove these when it periodically purges the fake accounts. In the meantime though, you can remove the Facebook fake likes today by following these easy (but time-consuming) steps.
Knowing who to remove and who to keep, can be a bit tricky but one of the key giveaways is the country the user is in. For example, a person in Brazil, is not likely to be interested in your dog-walking business in Edinburgh.
Another clue is the user’s age: If they are under 18, and your business is a bar, then they shouldn’t be following your page. If your content is, age sensitive then you can also set an age restriction that will automatically remove the likes by users who are too young.
When a user liked your page is also useful in identifying fake accounts. If you know you bought fake likes 6 months ago, then it shows you under their name when they liked the page (6 months ago).
Lastly, the biggest clue is whether they seem like a real person or an account used only for liking pages. For example, if they have never posted anything, they have no friends but like 4,000 pages, all unrelated to each other, then it’s probably a fake account.
If all of that seems like too much work, it may be time to bite the bullet and create a brand new page and let your followers know that that’s the one you are using now. Yes, it may take a while to grow your following again, but if you have good content and real fans then your page will have the engagement it should have had from the beginning.
Unfortunately same goes for inviting your friends and family to like your page. While it’s natural to want to show everyone what you’re doing, or what you have accomplished, having them like your page can also slow your growth. (Is your aunt really interested in your metal band?).
If you have badgered your 500 friends to death until they all liked your page, you might find that they offer no more natural engagement than the fake likes you didn’t buy. Every disinterested friend or family member that scrolls past your update means that a genuine fan or potential client did not see that update, and probably won’t.
The internet is growing increasingly smarter, making it more and more difficult for people to “cheat” their way to success, and Facebook is no exception. The only effective way to buy more likes on Facebook is by doing so via Facebook’s Advertising platform, and tailoring the audience for your ads to your specific market.
To grow your Facebook following organically takes time, dedication, and some marketing know-how. It involves both posting genuinely interesting content, to a genuinely interested audience. Doing it correctly, though, can be a great investment for your business, providing a relatively low-cost way of getting your message out to a captive audience, instantly.
Remember: one genuinely interested follower is worth more than a thousand fake followers.
I manage social media for small businesses like yours, driving relevant traffic to their websites and increasing conversions.
I’d like to see if I can do the same for you.