by Hassan del Campo
Don’t take this personal. We know starting and growing a business has its challenges. And usually, “hacks” are welcomed because we really should be working smarter not harder. Unless your aim is to create the digital equivalent of a Rube Goldberg machine, then you obviously want to do both. But, sometimes our genuine attempts to make life easier for ourselves goes too far. So, these are just words of caution coming from a good place.
*We’ll be making regular updates to this list as we come across things.
Buying Facebook Likes
It can be very tempting for businesses looking to establish their authority and presence on social media, but purchasing Facebook likes is not really a recommended practice. Setting the issue of compromising the integrity of your brand aside, there are legitimate reasons why it should be avoided. First, not all likes are created equal. Purchased likes are likely fake, which means they:
1.) Aren’t likely to create any meaningful engagement on your page. This is important for many reasons we’ll cover. Facebook likes, in their inception, were the proverbial stamps of approval that users could give to any Page they at least casually vouched for. More likes equaled a stronger reputation and legitimacy. It also allowed users to easily follow Pages they liked as well as signal their network of friends of Pages they liked. If you had an active page, you might’ve got lucky and received regular engagement from your followers – in the forms of post likes, shares, and comments. Fake likes, of which many paid likes are, become nearly irrelevant because people can’t engage with your Page if they don’t exist. Edge Rank is Facebook’s algorithm that determines how Pages get ranked on its platform. It takes into consideration (heavily) the activity that is generated on your Page. If you have 22,000 likes but only average one like per post, this disproportion of likes to engagement sends Facebook a red flag. The result? Your Page could be penalized with a lower ranking.
Also, consider this. You want as many active and real people interacting with your Page as possible. What good is your audience for selling your product or service if they’re not real or don’t care?
2.) Might alert Facebook and thus, result in their removal. From the zebra’s mouth…
A Like that doesn’t come from someone truly interested in connecting with a Page benefits no one. Real identity, for both users and brands on Facebook, is important to not only Facebook’s mission of helping the world share, but also the need for people and customers to authentically connect to the Pages they care about. When a Page and fan connect on Facebook, we want to ensure that connection involves a real person interested in hearing from a specific Page and engaging with that brand’s content. As such, we have recently increased our automated efforts to remove Likes on Pages that may have been gained by means that violate our Terms. – Facebook
To be clear, we do not and have never permitted the purchase or sale of Facebook Likes as we only want people connecting to the Pages and brands with whom they have chosen to connect. Beyond the need to maintain authentic relationships on Facebook, these third-party vendors often attempt to use malware or other forms of deception to generate fraudulent Likes, which is harmful to all users and the internet as a whole.
3.) Purchased Likes aren’t great at hiding themselves. The casual visitor to your page might notice something is off if there’s a disproportionate amount of engagement to your Likes. But for those managing a business Page for others, the dirt can truly show up in the wash just by paying attention. I was the administrator of a Business Page I have long since disassociated with. I noticed, through alerts, that the Page was receiving Likes almost every other day. Out of curiosity I visited the page and saw that the last post had been made nearly two years ago. I also noticed that the accounts Liking the page all came from outside the U.S. (this was a local business that served a metropolitan city). There were no Likes, comments, or shares on individual posts. How could an inactive Page receive Likes? The truth is, an inactive page can receive Likes organically. I, for instance, have a Business Page for t-shirt line I started many moons ago. While I haven’t made a post to the Page in years I occasionally get Likes and Views – which I receive organically through SEO that brings traffic to my Page. The important thing to note is that Views matter, in a real sense, much more so than Likes. Views indicate when a person visits and interacts with your Page – meaning they’re actually clicking around and browsing your Page. While that activity is not visible to the public, it is visible to anyone with some level of administration access to the Page. If you co-manage your Page with someone else and you find there are a high amount of new Likes, no new posts, and no Views – it could signal purchased Likes. While this information is empowering for the business owner, it can be potentially damaging to the marketer that relies on these techniques.
4. ) We heard on the grapevine that Facebook will eventually phase out visible Likes from Business Pages. So, while the Likes may not be removed from your actual count, they may not necessarily be viewable to the public. Note, there is no official word about this..just something we heard.
Don’t panic and don’t get disappointed. All this means is that you should really consider how relevant Facebook Likes are for directly impacting your bottom-line in a meaningful way.
Still not convinced? Perhaps you have legitimate claims for buying Likes. Maybe you need to jumpstart activity on your Page, so buying Likes will give you social proof. Or, you could have superficial reasons that have nothing to do with anything stated above. While we at Micro Business Monday don’t condone the use of paid likes, if you do make the plunge, for our sake and yours, use a reputable service that cares about delivering some level of quality.
Purchasing Instagram Followers
Honestly, the overall gist of why you shouldn’t is pretty much covered above in #1 and #3. Instagram Likes are more of a vanity metric. What makes their presence even less impactful is that the proliferation of bots that automate Likes and comments haphazardly reduce the meaningfulness of having them in the first place. Gaining followers the old-fashioned way (is there even such a thing for Instagram?) may not be super difficult, but it is time-consuming. For this reason, one can make a strong case for automating Likes and Follows, provided that the bot has been configured for targeted audiences. There’s also ways to purchase Instagram followers from existing accounts – essentially, from a person that amassed a sizeable follower (sometimes for a specific niche) for the sole purpose of selling the account off to someone else. Through this method, you acquire real followers (provided that the followers themselves aren’t fake or ‘controlled’ by bots).
But, the question remains. How relevant is the amount of Instagram followers to your bottom line? Is it to sell more digital copies of your album? Get more clicks to your website? If you need/want your Followers to perform a specific action then fake Followers are simply irrelevant to your business. Sure, 1,000 paid Followers “looks better” than 10 genuine Followers because both look the same on the surface. And the reality of social proofing coupled with the fact the use of paid Followers is so prevalent means many businesses feel they have to do it in some form just to appear like everyone else. Always proceed with caution and heavily consider whether it’s worth compromising the integrity of your business. Just ask yourself, If my current customers knew I was doing this, what would they think? Start there.
“What about paid Followers on Twitter? Likes on YouTube?”
Well, you can assume the same general risks and consequences apply to those platforms as well. Do you see a pattern here?