When you were in high school, did you ever feel sorry for the losers who only had two people sign their yearbook? Don’t you hate being the first one to a party? Isn’t it better to be fashionably late – show up when there are other people to interact with?
A lot of companies transfer this mentality to social media marketing. Isn’t it better to buy a couple thousand fans for my Facebook page than let my true customers see I’ve only managed to convince a handful of people to like me? If I buy a bunch of fake fans, my true target audience is more likely to follow me because they’ll feel like they are joining all the cool kids.
This thinking is wrong, wrong, wrong. Here’s why.
1. A Little Bit of Money Now, A Lot of Money Later
Sure, you can shop around and find the cheapest friends possible. For about $100, you can get a thousand people to like your page. That might seem like a bargain, but the long-term cost is really quite significant.
Facebook offers you a way to easily interact and update customers and prospects. Facebook recently changed the way posts by pages are seen in the timelines of fans. Now, in most cases, you’ll have to pay in order to promote a post to your fan base if you want to be assured that they see it. The more fans you have, the more you’ll have to shell out. Unfortunately, you can’t pick the fans you want to reach out to. It is impossible to promote posts to just your real fans; you also have to pay to market to your fake fans.
If half of your fans are fake, you’ve just spent a lot of money to reach out to people who will never buy your product or even interact with you. What a waste.
2. Fake Friends Keep Information from Your Real Friends
Facebook has a very complicated algorithm that determines what gets viewed in the News Feed. Basically, Facebook decides whether or not your content is worthy enough to be showed to other people.
While there are many mysterious things that factor into this algorithm, there are a few things we do know. Engagement is huge.
As soon as you post something, it is immediately assigned a base score. The higher the score, the more likely it is that all your fans will see it. And the score can change. It can increase or decrease based on the interaction with that post. Do people like it? Are people commenting on it? Is anyone willing to share it?
Not only does user engagement factor into the score for that particular post, involvement also affects the overall base score. If no one is engaging with your posts, your base score will go lower and lower. Soon, no one will see your content at all.
If the vast majority of your fans have been bought, their fake presence will really affect you – in a negative way. The ratio of total fans to people who interact will be very low. Facebook will deem your posts insignificant since it appears no one cares.
3. Your Fake Fans Will Always Be Fake
Do you remember that hot chick you dated in college? She was totally wrong for you, but you were convinced she would change. Did it work out? Probably not.
Your fake friends are the exact same. Maybe you bought them with the naive thinking they might actually become future clients. Maybe they’ll catch a glimpse of what you have to offer and transition from fake fans to real fans.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but that won’t happen. Even if those fans are real people (and they usually aren’t) they are likely located on the other side of the world. They don’t have access to what you have to offer. So, no matter how hard you try, you aren’t going to convert them.
4. Your Real Clients Will Notice
It isn’t difficult for your real clients to see who has already liked you. What will they see when they scroll through the list of fans on your page? A bunch of people from far away countries? People who never interact with your posts?
That will send up a big red flag. Your customers will know you bought those fans. And they’ll condemn you for doing it. If you acted shady in that one area of your business, who is to say you aren’t doing it in other areas? How can they trust you now?
5. Fake Fans Won’t Help Your Website Either
The number of fans you have does not increase the rank of your website. Many people get confused when told that social media is playing a role in determining the rank of a website in search engines like Google.
Google can’t easily draw a connection between your social profile and your website (except maybe Google+). The impact social media has on ranking (if there is any) comes from a different direction. Search engines are more interested in how many of your site’s visitors share, like or tweet your content. Having people like your social media pages doesn’t help in the slightest.
One Last Time…
Don’t buy social media fans or followers! The amount of followers and likes you have does not matter. The true test of success is user engagement. Are people sharing your content? Are they commenting? That is what is important.
Focus on building lasting relationships with qualified leads. A handful of potential clients is much better than a thousand fake fans.