"Should I buy Facebook likes to boost my presence?" We get this question WAY more often than we should. When talking to people around the office, we thought the answer was a no-brainer - NEVER buy fans. Unfortunately, we've seen far too many pages do just that. After a lot of reading, talking to some influential social media professionals, and using a little of our own common sense, we've answered the question.
Below is a conversation that we sometimes have with clients, and one we wish we had with others before they made the decision to buy likes.
I really want my Facebook page to look popular, and I've been thinking of buying Facebook likes. Is that OK? In a world where the amount of "Likes" a company has seems to reign supreme, it's very tempting to get sucked into the vortex of wanting more likes than all of your competitors. However, when it comes to businesses or an organization, you want the people who like your page to be true supporters of your cause, product or company.
But all of those people will help me build my business, right? Wrong. When you purchase Facebook likes, all of this support and engagement goes out the window. These purchased likes are either a mixed bag of random people being paid by a company, or fake accounts altogether. Either way, those people do not truly value your company or organization. The likes you get are from spam accounts, which violates Facebook's user policy. (This means they can get banned and deleted.) These "click farms" have generated a large profit, but it's not a business you or I want to be in. David Burch, at TubeMogul, a video marketing firm based in Emeryville, California, said buying clicks is bad business. "And if an advertiser ever found out you did that, they'd never do business with you again."
Wow! This sounds like a bad idea. Tell me more! Facebook developed an algorithm (or really a group of algorithms) which determines how often your posts appear in your fans' Newsfeeds. And it punishes you if your content is lacking. When you buy Facebook likes, the percentage of people who engage with your content (which is likely not even everyone who organically liked your page) will shrink.
Let's do the math:
You have 200 organic fans of your page. Let's say 25% of them engage with your content on a regular basis, that's 50 fans.
You buy 1000 fans (now a total of 1,200). If those 50 fans are still engaging with you, Facebook sees that only a meager 4.2% of your fanbase is engaging with your content. This tells the algorithm that you aren't producing valuable content, and you will appear in your fans' Newsfeeds even less often.
So what happened to those 200 organic fans that loved your brand? They're still there, but they aren't seeing your posts, and one of your competitors may have caught their eye in the meantime. (Psst... Facebook has declined organic reach by 50% in the last year and rumored to decline more. Don't hurt yourself even more by purchasing likes.)
Am I just stuck at (insert current number of likes here) for the rest of my life? Of course not! There are many more effective (and ethical) ways to increase the number of fans on your page. (Read this Facebook Marketing blog for more advice!) What do some of the biggest names in social media have to say? You don't have to take our word for it. Our Outreach & New Media Manager took to Twitter to ask some of the biggest names in social media what they thought about the topic. Read the passionate, and strikingly similar responses below:
@annamarie9289 I ask them if likes put money in the cash register. And I'm not in that business, thankfully. I would end my life. - Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan) May 23, 2014
.@annamarie9289 Because it's immoral and ineffective to buy likes. Only companies with more money than brains buy Likes. - Guy Kawasaki (@GuyKawasaki) May 23, 2014
@annamarie9289 It's a waste of money and can actually hurt your page and your reputation. I can usually tell when a page has bought likes. - AndreaVahl (@AndreaVahl) May 23, 2014
@annamarie9289 they may as well drop bills from an airplane - Michael A. Stelzner (@Mike_Stelzner) May 23, 2014
@annamarie9289 "No." ;) - Ann Handley (@MarketingProfs) May 23, 2014
@annamarie9289 Hi Anna -- # of fans and PTAT are 'vanity metrics.' Far better to have a smaller, targeted, more engaged community. - Mari Smith (@MariSmith) May 24, 2014
What have we learned from all of this? Don't buy fans! Not just on Facebook, don't buy fans/followers on any social media platform. And if anyone tells you that they want to buy you likes... run.
Pam Moore, a Forbes.com Top 10 Social Media Influencers and chart topper on string of other impressive lists, told us to not waste our time. She tweeted to us saying, "Focus on ppl who understand real value & work required for social biz." With a consistent and effective content strategy, your fans WILL come. And you will look more authentic, earn an audience that believes in your brand, and have higher conversion rates in the long run.
If you're still not convinced, let me ask you one final question: Can fake likes purchase your product? (Hint: The answer is no.)