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The folly of fake fans

Fake fans are not real people flocking to your page
Fake fans will never interact with your page
Whether it is the competitive nature of being a businessperson, or human nature in general, numbers excite us.
The higher the number, the better we feel.
As social networks have grown into essential tools for business, the numbers often become the measure because they are the only visible way to compare performance against competitors.
‘Ten thousand fans’, ‘100,000 likes’. But numbers are a dangerous measure.
As a businessperson, you know that if you have more fans than your competitors, people will believe you are doing something better. So you strive for more. Some businesses resort to ‘begging’ for likes or asking followers to invite their friends. Some will go down the dark route of paying for them.
But there is only one type of like that is important, and that’s when someone likes your page because they….  well, like it.

Fake fans are not fans

People often ask me ‘how do i get more likes?’ My instant response, is ‘post more likeable content’.
Some smile humbly in the realisation that they thought there would be a more scientific answer. The rest give half a chuckle because they think I am joking. I’m not.
It doesn’t matter how many people ‘like’ your brand, the only ones who will respond to your updates are those that have liked your brand for a genuine reason. Reasons being:

  • They genuinely like your brand and what it stands for
  • They are interested in buying from you and want more information
  • You have given them an incentive to do so, in the form of a competition or reward

The rest will rarely if ever like, comment or share anything you do, and in fact the latter of the three may also never engage, but that’s a topic for another day.

The dark side

There’s another deeper concern that I touched on earlier. And that’s paid likes.
If you buy likes, you may think there’s no harm in it. It’s an automated, computerised process that just crunches numbers while you sleep.
Wrong. Well it does happen while you sleep, because it’s happening in places such as Bangladesh, where poorly paid workers are clicking round the clock on the like button. Some of them have 1000 Facebook profiles and are manually logging in and out of Facebook all night long for their pittance.
Channel 4’s Dispatches programme Celebs, Brands and Fake Fans recently investigated the unsavoury business of fake fans.
It demonstrated how unscrupulous companies are generating fake likes for companies willing to pay to get their numbers up.
For the customer, the numbers are very attractive, $3 per thousand YouTube views, $15 per 1000 Facebook page likes. The world keeps on turning and  the employers who now can’t exploit workers because of fair trade rules, have just found a new business to move into – social media.

Why you should care

But even if you don’t care about all that, what do all those fake likes do to your stats?
Look at this way. If you had 100 genuine page likes, and let’s forget for the moment that Facebook hides some of your posts to your fans. If your post was liked by 30 people, that’s 30%. Buy 10,000 likes, you’re still only going to get 30 post likes, because your new likers aren’t the slightest bit interested in your page, they’ve logged out and moved on the the next bulk-buying customer.
So your 30 likes are now only 0.3% of your fanbase. Analytically, you’ve failed miserably, and you can’t accurately measure good content against bad. You’ll quickly lose interest in your page and your genuine fans will wonder why you get so little comments when your fanbase is big. It might even put them off commenting themselves. And then… tumbleweed.
As fast-paced as it might seem, social media is a slow burn. To get more likes, do more likeable things. Take time to understand your audience and post content they like, comment on and share. It may take a while, but a carefully nurtured fanbase is far better than a fake one.

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