August 20, 2017
“In this world, you get what you pay for.” – Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007), writer, “Cat’s Cradle”
Have you ever gone to a Facebook page of a small business and noticed that they have tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of likes or fans and you ask yourself, “How do they do it?” So, you do a little research and the next thing you know is you find out that all this small business did was pay a company to increase the number of likes on their page by using a network of people they have. You then say to yourself, “What a great idea” and you begin to look for a company that can do that for you.
If you even consider doing this, you need to have your head examined.
“Like farming” – the process of artificially inflating the number of Facebook page likes – not only can but absolutely will do more harm than good for your company.
Don’t be fooled by the opinion that more Facebook page likes equals more business or that more page likes will increase the perception that your small business is more popular than it really is. In both cases it doesn’t.
When you engage a company to do this for you, they typically hire people in lower wage earning countries like Pakistan, India and Vietnam and pay them up to 10 cents for each page they like.
While on the surface this may sound fine, in reality these people will never buy or use your product or service, they will never endorse your product or service and they will never engage with you online. They will like your page and that’s it! When you consider that Facebook posts are now only being shown to about 1% or 2% of a page’s followers (a change from 10% to 20% a year ago), the posts you took time to create may be wasted on these people, rather than the real, engaged, potentially buying customers who actually liked your page because of the products and services you offer.
If that’s not bad enough, paying for artificial likes will affect how Facebook promotes your page. In mid-2016 Facebook switched over to a new algorithm that examines the value of a business’s popularity based on the percentage of engaged fans or followers.
For example, if you have 15,000 page likes, of which only 1,500 are real, but your Facebook posts average four or five likes each, Facebook will calculate that your content is not valuable due to a low percentage of your fans or followers taking the time to like or comment on your posts. By not considering your content to be relevant or valuable, Facebook will refrain from showing your posts to more of your fans or followers in their newsfeeds, thus having a negative impact on your business.
There is also a tertiary reason to avoid artificial page likes, as if you needed more of a reason at this point.
When you pay for page likes, it becomes hard to analyze the patterns and habits of your real audience and so your analytics will be skewed. Not only will you be unable to determine what content is really working and to which demographics are being properly targeted, this can really prevent sales for your small business. Additionally, when you want to boost your posts to existing followers, fans and their friends, money would actually be wasted because of your artificial likes.
The strategy of artificial Facebook likes can also backfire on legitimate and genuine popular pages, causing tremendous embarrassment. For example, in early 2016 when it was evident that Bernie Sanders was ahead of Hillary Clinton in online clout for the U.S. Democratic Presidential primaries, according to Business Insider, the Clinton campaign was criticized when her Facebook account suddenly received thousands of likes overnight; it was quickly learned the uptick in page likes were generated from Myanmar and Thailand “like farms.”
Any marketing pro who is worth anything at all will tell you that it’s better to have dedicated followers and fans than artificially inflated numbers because even if you have fewer numbers those who connect with you organically, will not only stay engaged and be committed to your product or service, but eventually they may turn into a loyal customer and give you unlimited growth potential.