Recently I was shopping around for legal services. This time I didn’t want to ask my friends for recommendations so I did a local google search and found some interesting providers close by. I found basic information on the website but wanted to learn more about the humans behind the brand so I clicked on the link to the Facebook page.

What I found was a boring page with a few motivational quotes, a couple of posts per week and almost no engagement. This is typical for businesses that hire low cost social media management provider.

But then I saw how many likes this page has:

Screenshot fake facebook likes

Pretty impressive for a local business with a boring timeline right?

Well, not really. It is fairly easy to see that the number of likes on the page is inflated by fake likes. Later in this post I will explain why this matters.

How can you find out if a page has fake likes?

In the left sidebar of every Facebook page you see a box  and a link to “Likes”. If you click it you can find out more about the page:

Find Fake Facebook Likes

A Facebook page that is alive, well and active will always have people engaged. In our example above the warning signs are the following:

  1. Of the 10,548 potential commenters only 1 has reacted to posts in the last week
  2. An active page should grow on its own because when we engage with it our friends will see the conversations. “0” new likes is a dead giveaway for a large number of fake likes
  3. If you see a large spike of new likes in this graph and no corresponding post with a lot of engagement, the only way this growth can happen is by faking it.

Until recently Facebook also showed where most of the followers were located and their age. This was another good way of telling if this number was real.

Who is behind fake likes and does Facebook not mind?

I won’t go into where to buy fake likes or followers for any social network. A quick search will show you a lot of vendors and a whole range of prices.

Most providers of likes and followers employ real people in developing countries who’s job it is to like Facebook pages. Needless to say their pay must be minimal.

Facebook repeatedly announced that it will crack down on these fake accounts. In order to blur the lines between real likes and fake these professional likers also seek out regular Facebook pages. This is why our pages wind up with some fakes without ever paying anybody for liking the page.

Why would you buy fake likes?

There is a psychological phenomenon called “Social Proof” that makes us trust a place more if lots of others vouch for it.

Let me explain:

Imagine you are visiting a new town, and you see two coffee shops. Both have lineups but one is fairly short and one is long. We are conditioned to think “hey, more people go to that shop so the coffee must be better – I will buy there”. This is social proof and the reason why we all want more likes, followers, comments, shares and friends.

 

What is social proof

But what happens if you find out that a large number of coffee buyers are hired to stand in the lineup to make the one place seem more desirable?

trust We lose trust!

Going back to my story – if I can’t even trust this company with the likes on their Facebook page, how can I trust them with my business? Or in my case with sensitive, private information?

In a world where the connected consumer holds the power, losing the trust of our customers is devastating.

For me this is the biggest danger in buying fake likes or followers!

[clickToTweet tweet=”Do not risk the trust of your customers for the illusion of popularity” quote=”Do not risk the trust of your customers for the illusion of popularity”]

But there are more reasons why fake followers are bad for your business:

Fake Facebook followers hurt your engagement

Social Media works by building relationships. While most facebook likes are actually done by real people, these people are not interested in your content of your services. As a matter of fact, they likely live in a different country and could not afford what you have to offer. These followers will not return to your page and most certainly won’t like and comment on your posts.

Fake Facebook followers reduce the number of customers that see your content

Earlier this year Facebook tweaked their algorithm in an attempt to show us more of the posts that interest us. Without going into too much detail, the algorithm looks at the number of page likes versus the engagement.

Higher engagement = more interesting content = happier users = more views

In effect this calculation looks at the ratio between people that we can potentially reach with our post and the amount that actually engages with it.

If you think about the fact that Facebook currently shows our posts to only 6-10% of our fans organically means that it is even more important to have real, local  people on your list.

Fake Facebook likes cause you to waste money

If you want to reach more of your audience with your most important posts, buying Facebook ads is a necessary evil. If you create an ad, promote an event or boost a post – it’s likely you will want to promote them to the people that liked your page and their friends. If you have a large number of fans that are fake, you are spending hard earned cash on people that will never even consider buying from you.

Summary

Fake Facebook likes are damaging your brand by costing you the trust of potential customers that are more and more skilled in detecting fraud. They decrease the reach of your content and they cost you hard cash. Don’t take shortcuts! Earn your community by creating and sharing content that is valuable to them. Do not listen to misguided Social Media experts that want to tell you that nobody will notice. When your reputation is on the line a high quality following is much more valuable than a large number.

[clickToTweet tweet=”If I can’t trust your follower number, how can I trust you with my business?” quote=”If I can’t trust your follower number, how can I trust you with my #business?”]


Further reading:

Image credit: Images are either my own or licensed at Depositphotos.com

Published by Frithjof

Digital media strategist, coach, community manager and CEO of BlueBird Business Consulting. Blogger, podcaster, content creator and teacher with a passion. Favourite quote: “To succeed in the business of the future we have to become the very people we are trying to reach” ~ Brian Solis

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