Buying Fake Facebook Likes is not a Social Media strategy

, Another rant from , 17 Comments

Businesses like Likes.

Working in agency land, I see this a lot. Jeez, any person who’s been on Facebook more than a couple of weeks has seen it a lot. Businesses know they should be on Facebook. They’re pretty confident they know that the metric that matters on Facebook is that little blue thumbs up icon and how many numbers you can get next to it. What they don’t often know though is why they want those Likes. What good do they bring to the business?

“We’re not sure, we just know we want more of them”

Fake Facebook LikesAnd from this all too commonly said phrase, comes the booming business of selling likes.

For just $5 a clearly reputable source on the Interwebs will guarantee you 250 likes on your page or post. If you’re willing to hand over $50, they’ll even hook you up with 5000 if you like.

Hellooo social media silver bullet!

People with ‘Social Media Guru’ and ‘Facebook Expert’ emblazoned on their LinkedIn profile worldwide rejoiced. They could finally meet those outlandish KPI’s they promised their bosses.

All of a sudden in the space of a month, a small Facebook following with the average 5-10 likes per post can be transformed into the Facebook equivalent of Maroon 5 (somehow popular, but nobody knows exactly why). Now you’re getting hundreds of likes almost overnight! WOOOAAHHH!! MAD SOCIAL MEDIA SKILLZ YO!!

And those thousands of new fans who are suddenly in love with your status updates each day are rushing onto your website to buy your product, signing up to your events and subscribing to your newsletters right? They are. . . . right?

This is where it comes undone. Why isn’t social media converting for us? I’m so surprised that all these people from India are liking us, especially when we don’t even sell our product over there! We have 15000 people who like us so why is no body coming to our events? Why do I have 50,000 fans but only 2 real leads this month?

That’s because you’re judging success on a false metric.

A Like is a vote from someone who actually digs what you do. It was built to give your business and amazing opportunity to find people you can interact with on their personal timeline because THEY, not you, have invited you to interact with their life on their personal newsfeed.

Imagine THAT!

It’s every marketers wet dream. Customers who have not only chosen you as a preferred option but even promoted you to their entire friend list! What other advertising medium lets you do something that cool?!

But instead, some businesses are choosing to fill up this amazing gold mine of data with 2cent clicks from India and irrelevant profiles from Papua New Guinea. All to get more of those little like notifications on a picture they pulled off Google Images of a grumpy cat with a witty blurb of ‘Like this is you wish it was still the weekend’.

Angry cat thinks you're bad at FacebookWhat the hell kind of marketer allows that to happen to their brand!?

Too many unfortunately, and it’s coming back to bite them in the ass too. In September Facebook announced a crack down on ‘fake Likes’.  Sites who utilise Likes from ‘like farmers’, fake accounts and Like button bots are in the firing line. And with the amount of data at Zuckerberg’s billionaire fingertips, how difficult do you think it is for them to see some sort of trend in the accounts responsible for fake Likes?

Chances are that if you bought a bunch of Likes from somewhere like Fiverr, then you’re probably not the only savvy social media mastermind who is a current customer of theirs. Your 2000 new followers are probably carbon copied on another 400+ Fan pages out there on Facebook. One of those pages gets found out – and they will – I’m guessing the breadcrumb trail will pretty easily lead them back to your business page.

Buying Likes is kinda like those clever websites who invested in thousands of links from link farms and directories to rank #1 in Google – all those sites are doing awesome on around page 178 for that search term right now.

So in summary, it’s your brand you’re representing. If you wanna get hundreds of likes because ‘That’s just an awesome thing to have’ then go for it. You’re not only playing with fire, you’re disrespecting your customers and brand. Each new paid Like is making each new real Like less valuable. Good for you. You’re a social media genius!

Buying fake likes isn’t a social strategy, it’s just lazy. It’s cheating and it’s not even a good cheat move.


Who the hell is Daylan Pearce?

Daylan is a digital strategist for branding agency Principals. Looking after digital and customer experience projects, Daylan has been featured in The New York Times,, B&T, ProBlogger and more. He once ate 13 McDonald's cheeseburgers in under 5 minutes, but strongly advises against anyone else ever trying that. He also feels slightly odd when writing about himself in the third person for blog biography summaries.


17 Responses

  1. Corey Freeman

    November 15, 2012 9:04 AM

    I’m not going to lie, I’ve bought likes before. It was for a side-project that eventually got sold off. Right away I realized that it was just a sham (well, duh). Engagement was awful. Traffic to the site didn’t increase at all, and I obviously didn’t suddenly make buckets of money.

    Real fans lead to real leads which lead to real conversions.

    • Daylan Pearce

      November 15, 2012 9:20 AM

      Hey Corey,
      I think in earlier days no body knew what the hell to do with Likes. Now, it’s becoming more clear to people that they actually represent engaged users, it’s madness to contaminate that data with superficial numbers.mYour last sentence is spot on. They are real people, who want to interact with you. Why waste it.
      Thanks for reading. :)

  2. Nadia French

    November 15, 2012 12:09 PM

    I have never bought any likes and even though my likes may only increase a few every week (sometimes more sometimes) I am thrilled everytime a new one appears because I know it’s someone appreciating my work and really liking what I do!!

    • Daylan Pearce

      November 15, 2012 1:37 PM

      Hey Nadia,
      Exactly! When someone actually enjoys what you do, it’s worth infinitely as much, from both a marketing point of view and feel good point of view. And everyone likes cakes!
      Thanks for reading.

  3. Alistair Nestor

    November 15, 2012 12:52 PM

    It’s kind of like the whole TARP fiasco in TV-land. For example, if I remember regions and figures right, Northern Victoria (AU) had a grand total of four audience engagement TV monitors (or whatever those gadgets are called that monitor what shows a household is watching).

    So the viewing habits of four Northern Victorian households were extrapolated out to 100,000 potential viewers to justify TV advertising rates.

    Better still, one of those four households was the MD of one of the local TV stations.

    OK, so it’s not quite the same as your story. However it IS misleading and goes against the sexy and precise data capture potential that digital fings bring. So yeah …

  4. Luke Revill

    November 18, 2012 10:17 AM

    Can you go into a but more detail on ‘buying likes’ versus ‘promoted posts’? I’ve seen some real world data showing the demographics of new likes coming from ‘promoted posts’ to be very similar to what one would expect to come from ‘buying likes’.
    Also, great point about destroying the rich data set organisations could tap into by using a like buying strategy. If only more Marketing and Social Media Managers knew what the facebook graph APi was, sigh…

    • Daylan Pearce

      November 18, 2012 6:52 PM

      Hey Luke,
      I guess the big difference is you gotta separate buying likes and buying fake likes.
      Advertising and promoted posts are essentially buying likes, but they are also targeted to specific criteria. A promoted post is promoted based on the social graph, so people are seeing it because they are associated to the brand/post in some way. Promoted posts are opt in as well. It’s displaying with the intent of getting a like from someone who’s opted in to what you’re offering. A like from a promoted post is still from a real user who has decided to interact with you. That’s a real fan whos data and interaction is valuable and worthwhile.

      Buying fake likes though is just random accounts (usually from third world countries) that have no residual benefit from a marketing perspective. They are likes for the sake of a number rather than likes for the sake of real life user interaction. That’s not a real fan and brings nothing to your brand. They’ll never buy, they likely never interact and they’re social graph data is likely useless when it comes to what is shared.
      In fact, buying fake accounts will make sharing later on down the track to your fan base less accurate, less successful and likely more expensive. You’re sharing to an audience who doesn’t give a crap.

      It’s quick, but perceived, wins VS real, but expensive, wins.
      Thanks for reading mate.

  5. David

    November 24, 2012 3:22 PM

    The temptation is so great to buy Facebook Likes but after reading articles such as this one, it is a sober reminder that it does not achieve connection with people interested in what you are promoting.

  6. Rob

    December 30, 2012 10:25 AM

    Judging by the comments here people are under the assumption that buying Facebook likes is suppose to drive traffic to your website and generate sales. This is not the purpose of bought or ”fake” likes. If anything buying ”likes” should be used to up those little numbers on your Facebook group/page from 0. Even if it is just 10 or 20 likes. It is a starting point for you to genuinely build real likes and customer base upon.

    If people are purchasing Facebook likes in the hopes they will gain sales or traffic to their website then they really should not be using the internet.

    • John Smith

      April 7, 2013 6:59 PM

      I agree. Smart businesses use it for perception and a good starting point to build off of. More likes = Client Trust

  7. Beth J

    March 30, 2013 11:15 PM

    The biggest reason to buy Facebook likes would be to gain a somewhat “instant reputation”. When I first started my Facebook Page, I bought some targeted twitter followers and real facebook likes from Social Fat Boy. These likes helped increase awareness of my brand and gave potential clients the thought that I had been in business longer. I know its different for everyone, and you do have to be careful when buying likes, but it can work for several reasons.

  8. B-rad

    April 17, 2013 4:43 PM

    I run a FB page for my clothing brand which had around 200 likes, which suddenly jumped to 2,800 likes. I did not buy any likes, as I don’t condone that practice, and neither did anyone I know. I’ve sent a message to FB in regards to these spam likes but haven’t heard anything back. The likes have dropped back, but only to 1,500 or so. Is there anything I can do to get rid of these spam likes?

    • Daylan Pearce

      April 17, 2013 4:52 PM

      Hey Brad,
      It’s a bit of a tricky one as it can sometimes be difficult to determine which are fake and which are real. Often though they all come in a bulk format and are from countries like India, Paupa New Guinea, Indonesia etc.
      If the likes are fan page likes/follows (and not post likes) then you can remove them but it’s a bit of a manual process.
      Go to your page admin section and in the left hand side of the admin section (top of the page) there is a New Likes option.
      Click on the See All and then manually go through your list a remove (you can ban them if you like too) the suspect accounts from your page.
      Good luck and thanks for reading.

  9. Destiny

    May 30, 2013 4:17 AM

    I can’t say buying likes really hurt me cause when I needed to promote a new product through a contest on fb, a friend suggested I should use a service like this simultaneously so that I have more success in advertising the new product. In other words people don’t easily hit the Like button unless someone else does it first and the more predecessors the easier to hit it. Launch was great and likes have stayed (90% at least). The service was fastlike for anyone interested out there. Should I ever have to make noise about a new product, I wouldn’t look elsewhere, these services work. Do you think Lady Gaga and all of today’s public idols have social pages reflecting the true masses following them? Don’t get fooled, Social Marketing is alive and kicking and probably making millions out of all those celebrities. Maybe the celebrities don’t even know how cheap it has become to buy likes and they still pay those marketing services thousands of dollars for their “secret services”. All major fan pages are greatly manipulated. Just row with the flow! my 2 cents

  10. Chris

    June 7, 2013 2:18 AM

    I can actually think of one (1) reason to buy fans: if your page is small and you have an international audience.

    Here’s why: FB lets you target your fans by language only if you have more than 5000 likes. So in order to adress the, let’s say 1000 real fans from different countries properly (and not having to post in a couple of languages every time), I’d buy 4000, knowing that the don’t have any value in themselves, but open up more options for my page (and the interaction with the real likers).

    • Daylan Pearce

      June 7, 2013 7:07 AM

      Hmm, interesting idea.
      But the problem you run into there is that without purchasing a promoted post, you only reach around 15-18% of your audience organically. Even if you have 5000 fans, it’s still only going to reach a fraction of that.
      If you can geo target your specific posts organically that could work, but then you also run the risk of getting pinged by Facebook for having ‘fake’ fans too.
      Promoted posts don’t allow geographic targeting, so 80% of posts sent via that function will be wasted.
      Interesting point though.
      Cheers Chris.