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BBC Report Fake users hurt Facebook ‘likes’

2 August, 2012

The BBC reported last month on firms who are wasting money to gain “likes” from fake profiles and users who have no interest in their products: “A BBC investigation suggests companies are wasting large sums of money on adverts to gain “likes” from Facebook members who have no real interest in their products. It appears many account holders who click on the links have lied about their personal details. A security expert has said some of the profiles appeared to be “fakes” run by computer programs to spread spam.” Using number of likes to judge the success of a social media platform is a rudimentary method of analysis. While many senior managers still like to see vast numbers of likes on the company’s Facebook page, this is more about vanity than effective engagement.

online offline networking

It takes three years to build a successful online community (see Nathan Bransford and Seth Godin). Trying to achieve some quick wins through paid advertising may bring you a high number of followers, but they are unlikely to be loyal followers, or ones who comment regularly. What WILL bring you highly engaged and loyal followers is providing regularly updated relevant content. And content takes time to build up.

It goes without saying that when you first set up an online space, you will have very few followers. This is an unavoidable fact. It is possible that some customers may look at your Facebook page in the early days, see a small number of followers and think this means your brand is unpopular. However, what is more likely is that they will see the page is fairly new and understand that the number of followers is low because the page has only just been set up. In this case, they will look to the page content to see if they want to engage with the brand. So right from the start, content is king.

Another point this highlights is the need to get started with social media as soon as possible. The earlier you start, the more content you will have up there when potential new customers search to see if you’re on Facebook (same goes for Twitter).

Slow and steady growth will achieve the best results over time. And if you want to have a significant number of followers for new visitors to see, you should start your Facebook page as soon as possible, and follow some of the tips below for quick (free) wins before actively promoting your page.

Marketing Goals

The long-term goal has to be content quality (relevant, interesting, updated often) and follower quality (real people who like your brand, buy your products and regularly comment on and share from your page). Driving number of ‘likes’ through Facebook advertising does not create quality content, nor does it bring quality followers.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against Facebook advertising per se. Facebook advertising provides a really useful way to target specific customer segments, based on geographical area, hobbies & interests, relationship status and any number of other demographic variables, often difficult to pinpoint through other advertising methods.

But Facebook advertising should be used for targeted selling of products or services, and not just for buying ‘likes’. If you really want more Facebook page ‘likes’, there are many other ways to achieve them that are a lot cheaper than Facebook advertising! (Feel free to ask me!)

Regarding fake Facebook accounts: there is no question there are a lot of them, and Facebook should do something about it. However, as the BBC have highlighted, the removal of fake accounts is not necessarily the interests of Facebook, so don’t wait around for this to happen to achieve better engagement on your Facebook page.

Instead, you should get proactive with your Facebook page, and start giving people real reasons to ‘like’ you. For tips on how to do this, subscribe to my blog as next week I will be publishing my Top Ten Tips on How to Get More Likes on Facebook


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