Sure, it’s impressive when you come across a social media site with a large number of fans, followers or “likers,” but what percentage of that number represents live people who are truly interested in the brand?
With the ever-increasing popularity of social media, brands are looking into a myriad of ways to grow their network and expand their virtual influence. Methods such as contests and fan exclusive discounts are regularly used, but lately, a more deceptive method has emerged: buying fans, followers, or likers. A recent Gartner study predicts that by 2014, some 10 – 15 percent of all social media reviews and engagement will be fake, paid for by the companies being endorsed.
All is fair in love and social media you say? Not true. Think about it this way:
It’s ineffective. Fake followers have zero interest in supporting, publicizing or purchasing anything from your company.
It leads to a lack of trust. The consumer has no way of knowing if a tweet, like or review is authentic or if the person is simply the social media equivalent of a walking sandwich board. This shows a lack of transparency. Plus, a huge increase in fan numbers in a very short amount of time may seem suspicious to a savvy consumer.
And finally, it could end up being a waste of money. Both Facebook and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are cracking down on fake fans, “likes” and reviews. A 2009 FTC ruling held that paying for fake reviews is false advertising and may be prosecuted as such. Facebook’s security team also recently announced a new system for recognizing and removing fake “likes”.
Here’s what it boils down to: If your company chooses to buy fake “likes” or reviews, the best-case scenario is that your money is wasted because Facebook will systematically weed out newly purchased “likers” or your Facebook account may be shut down for violating Facebook’s Terms of Service. Worst-case scenario: your company is sued by the FTC for false advertising, resulting not only in monetary loss, but a huge public relations nightmare.
The bottom line is that growing your company’s social media network organically will result in a much more engaged group of fans who truly care about supporting your brand. Remember, it’s not all about the numbers.
If you’re curious to find out how many followers are fakes, spam or simply inactive, check out a new tool called Fakers.