Buying Fake Likes & Followers – What’s the Harm?

Tempted to take a shortcut by buying Facebook likes or Twitter followers? Find out what you are really getting and the right way to build those numbers
Social Media Engagement

When just starting out your social media accounts, you are not alone in looking at that small number of Facebook likes and Twitter followers and wondering how you can get it to a number that looks credible. There is a temptation to go buy some followers (and it is very easy to do), but this very tactic could actually damage your business.

Where do these followers come from?

Generally, fake likes and followers come from fake accounts that have been created by software, or even accounts that have been hacked. Fake accounts are created by spammers to distribute spam links and to be sold as followers so the social media platforms are developing solutions to clean these out and it is not unusual to see social accounts that have purchased these followers to see big drops in numbers from time to time.

In the case of hacked accounts, most of these users have no knowledge that they have ‘liked’ a page, and have no control over what pages their profile is linked to.

Buying fake likes and followers is purely to boost numbers, not engagement. All your promotions will be wasted on people (or bots) who either don’t care or don’t exist.

What’s the harm of fake likes & followers?

So you get a big boost in numbers and you now feel that your profile has the apparent following to make you look credible. However, social media should not be a numbers game. Real value comes from actually engaging with people who are interested in your product or service. Fake followers will not interact with your profiles and will not bring you more traffic. Low engagement metrics can even reduce your prominence in the Facebook news feed.

There is also a flip side to the credibility game. The real followers and potential customers may see the sudden jump and know something fishy just happened, or in the case of Twitter check your followers list and easily spot the fake followers. If your real followers suspect you of buying likes, then all credibility is out the window and will quite likely decrease your opportunity for a sale.

Buying followers will skew your followers demographic profiles and makes it impossible to keep track of your genuine metrics and see what is really working to engage your followers. This is an essential part of social media and is something you should be doing to determine what is right to post on your page, which in turn should attract more genuine likes and followers over time.

A Cautionary Tale

A recent example of where fake likes can do harm was observed when someone we know had a helpful website designer try to help out by buying fake likes for the launch of his online magazine. This looked great as he thought his page was taking off and to boost it even further our friend paid to promote a Facebook post.

Another big boost in numbers happened but then something strange was observed…there were a tonne of Turkish Likes for an Australian publication!

Not knowing any better he had promoted the post to friends of people that had liked his page….guess where a lot of the likes had come from!

What’s the solution for growing a real fan base?

You’re better off naturally building your followers because these people will be more engaged and more likely to buy from you or tell their friends about you. To have a successful social media presence you have two interlinking considerations:

  1. You need a plan for keeping you social media accounts active with valuable information – no pitchfest. This is essential to have people first start following you and then engaging and interacting with your social media profile.
  2. Make people aware of your social media presence

Start by encouraging your existing customers to follow you, and advertise your social profiles to potential customers, eg. in your shop, on your flyers and by linking to them on your website.

If you are happy to spend money to get likes, you can use Facebook ads and promoted posts to get your page seen by more people. You can set a daily budget and this can be an effective way of increasing the reach of your page. Getting likes this way will lead to more engagement.

Alternatively, you can run competitions. Be smart about this though – simply giving things away will result in followers that never engage and are as likely to do business with you as those fake followers you have hopefully not bought.

Social proof is a powerful phenomenon. Most people think this social proof comes in numbers, but real social proof can be gained by encouraging your real customers to engage with you on social media and by sharing with their friends.