The impact of social media on marketing is here to stay. We all know this based simply on the number of hours people spend on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest combined with the fact that consumers trust word of mouth sources over all other kinds of marketing.
We can also tell this is true because of the number of companies that are sprouting up to help you manage, promote, and strengthen your brand on social channels. Word of mouth marketing is the primary outcome on social media channels. When fans engage with brands, the brand’s content spreads to a wider audience and receives an authentic endorsement by the consumer.
So why not just add to your audience by purchasing a bunch of Facebook fan Likes? Let me tell you why.
First of all, those Likes you can purchase are probably fake accounts. It’s like inviting spam into your email inbox – no one wants that.
Secondly, even if they are real people, they probably don’t look authentic. If your local charity or local yoga studio suddenly gained 5,000 fans and that shifted the most popular city on your page from Washington, DC, to Calcutta or Bogotá, your real fans can see that and it is cause for concern.
Thirdly, these purchased fans who are real people often do not have complete profiles and very often do not have any friends. If your primary goal on social media channels is to increase brand recognition through word of mouth marketing, these bought Likes cannot help you. Fake fans have no friends to whom they can promote or endorse your content.
Finally, the biggest reason not to buy fans on Facebook is a simple mathematical equation: it dilutes your reach. We know that Facebook’s internal structures limit your organic reach to fans, meaning that each time you post on your page only about 16% of your fans will see your post UNLESS you pay to promote it to the rest of your fans.
So let’s do the math. If you have 450 fans and only about 16% see your post, that’s 72 fans. Remember that these are authentic fans who organically found your page because they like you and what you have to offer. Real fans are the most likely to comment on and share your posts, spreading your message and endorsing you to their friends.
Now imagine that you added 5,000 fans over night. While 872 (16%) may see your posts (a clear increase in raw numbers), any of those fake fans seeing your post are highly unlikely to do what you want them to do: like, comment, and share your content. A lack of engagement means real fans eventually won’t see your content and won’t share it with their friends. Because of the algorithms around Facebook’s Edge Rank (a mechanism that establishes what posts go to the top of a person’s news feed based on their past interests) the shrinking engagement on your posts can hurt your overall reach.
So now your community engagement will decrease because you’ve just made it harder on yourself to reach those true 450 fans who want to see your posts and are the most likely people to comment on and share your content with their friends.
Facebook Page Likes offer a quick check of a brand’s superficial popularity, but the value of social media marketing is in the content engagement, which translates to word of mouth marketing. If fewer people, or a very small percentage of your fans, are actually commenting, liking, and sharing the content you post, you are not achieving the goals of strengthening your brand and distributing your message.
Facebook Page Likes are a vanity statistic, and the true value on Facebook and across social media is the engagement. Fake fans will not engage with your content, and in the end they will likely end up hurting your brand.
So, stop, think twice, and don’t diminish your brand with fake Facebook fans.