Kamikaze Social (aka: The deceptively expensive way to destroy your Facebook fanpage)

, Another rant from , 6 Comments

“Kamikaze aircraft were essentially pilot-guided explosive missiles, purpose-built or converted from conventional aircraft. Pilots would attempt to crash their aircraft into enemy ships in what was called a “Body Attack” in planes laden with explosives, bombs, torpedoes or full fuel tanks” – wikipedia

Kamikaze Pilots

Toshio Yoshitake, Tetsuya Ueno, Koshiro Hayashi, Naoki Okagami and Takao Oi, as they pose together in front of a Zero fighter plane before taking off from the Imperial Army airstrip in Choshi, just east of Tokyo, on November 8, 1944. Source linked to from photo.

Take off

So you have a Facebook page. You’ve been told it’s a necessity for any business that wants success online. You have a great cover image and you’ve told all of your friends to like the page. So now what do you do?

Well, clearly you need more fans. You need to get more people to click on that little like button. Of course, you’re not entirely sure what those ‘likes’ do, but you know you need more of them. You’ve tapped your personal friends list out and none of your friend’s friends are liking it, that leaves only one option left huh. Buy some likes!

For only $20 you can get an additional 500 Facebook likes on your page from a company in India or Thailand, and literally overnight your Facebook page fan-base has grown into a seemingly very popular page. Congrats.

Looks great huh, but take a look a little deeper into what you’ve actually just done to your brand and social media channel.

Pearl Harbour

Vertical aerial view of “Battleship Row”, beside Ford Island, during the early part of the horizontal bombing attack on the ships moored there. Photographed from a Japanese aircraft. Source linked to from photo.

Target located!

Prior to buying those links, you had an engaged audience; a group of people who had liked your page because they related to you, your brand or your product/service. These are people who would actually care about what it is your page had to say.

Now, you have 500 additional people who don’t know or care about your brand or message and will almost definitely never interact with your business in any tangible or business beneficial way. Now all your marketing efforts from this channel from now on will be touching people who will have no impact what so ever on making your business a success – aside from having a really cool looking counter of how many fans you have

Kamikaze Pilots

The word kamikaze commonly translates as divine wind, and such missions became part of Japanese military policy in October, 1944. Source linked to from photo.

Beginning the descent towards target

‘But that’s okay, because my updates will still reach the people who actually are interested, even though most are not, right?’


The Facebook algorithm work on a few different metrics – which combined are commonly known as EdgeRank. These metrics are Weight (the priority given to a certain type of post : photo, status, video, link etc), Affinity (how relevant your post is to your most interactive fans or friends), decay (how recent your post is) and more recently frequency (how frequent your account posts).

Lately, Facebook has been displaying content to fewer and fewer of your actual fan-base than in previous times. In the past, if you had 1000 fans and you sent a post out, a very significant portion of those fans would see your post, but this is changing.

Tests I’ve run on accounts with a large amount of followers is showing that even though you may have 1000 fans, your post is actually only showing up in the newsfeed of between 15-20% of them. This number becomes even less with the more fans your page has.

So even though you may have 20% of your fan base who are legitimate ‘fans’, and 80% who are paid likes, you cannot easily dictate which of these fans will be seeing your updates.

Kamikaze attack

The USS Bismarck Sea (CVE-95) – participating in the battle for Iwo Jima – was not so fortunate. Following two direct hits, inflicted by two kamikazes, she exploded and sank on the 21st of February, 1945. Source linked from photo.


But it doesn’t stop there. The reason for this decline in the reach of posts is to encourage page owners to participate in Facebook’s ‘Promote this post’ function. This service allows a page owner to pay a fee in order to ensure their post is seen by their entire fan list.

Below is a screensot of how much it costs to promote a post to a fanbase of around 800 people (and their friends)

Promote Post on Facebook

On average $16, which doesn’t look too bad right? But considering most of these people reached will be ‘fake’ likes and friends of these fake likes, then what value does it really add to your brand?

Now, let’s bump it up even further. What if you purchased a whole lot of these fake likes, or friends of the fake likes begin liking your page too. Keeping in mind that these fake Likes are often from developing countries (India, Indonesia etc.) and will likely have no real impact in sales to your business or effective promotion of your business.

Here is a screenshot of a page I look after with over 700,000 fans (real ones by the way). This is how much Facebook charge in order to reach that entire fan-base and their friends.

Facebook Promoted posts

Now we’re talking really big money to reach an audience that is not even really engaged. That $20 investment in fake likes just got very, very expensive huh.

Target destroyed

Fake likes may seem like an easy win initially, but in reality they are contaminating your leads, diluting your brand reach and making it more expensive for you to market online in the long run.

Buying Likes is not a social media strategy. It’s pretty much loading up your social media asset with explosives and then flying it at high speed into a perceived target, and if you do that your social media strategy likely won’t survive.


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, News.com.au, 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.


6 Responses

  1. Steven Wright

    May 22, 2013 10:51 AM

    Hey Daylan,

    Good write-up, and totally get it. It’s crazy how many vanity metrics get raised, and people who don’t really get it, care about them. What I really like is how you’ve not only explained it is a market that doesn’t care, but articulated how it actually costs you more to reach your engaged audience. Do you think Facebook actually like this? Means more cash in their pockets?

    Here’s a what if… What if I wanted to expand my market share to these potentially massive growth areas, where likes are typically purchased from? Do you reckon it could be a good way to get a brand across to new – lower end, yes – markets? That said, I’ve got no idea what traditional above the line would cost in the same regions.

    • Daylan Pearce

      May 22, 2013 11:09 AM

      Perhaps to some extent, but it’d definitely be the exception to the rule.
      If you take a look at the types of accounts that are being set-up for these types of bulk like purchases, they tend to not be socially active anyway. They are set-up purely for this purpose.

      The accounts are link after link of random business pages with a spattering of comments and images to make them ‘look legit’.
      It’s still a shotgun approach – shoot it at 1000 people and perhaps you’ll hit a valid target.

      As for Facebook liking it, it’s a win/win for them (for the short term at least). It costs more money to promote, it bumps their numbers from interactions and accounts – more people and more money.

      It’s kind of false measurements and in the long term if it becomes rife enough people will see it as a spam network more than a valid one and jump ship – don’t think it’s there yet.
      Personally, I think that any action on behalf of Facebook right now is purely cosmetic.

      • Steven Wright

        May 22, 2013 11:16 AM

        Above the line is pretty shotgun too. But i’m not really an above the line kinda guy, so yes, agree…

        Facebook are going a little crazy on the revenue side of things. Their monetisation strategies are becoming increasingly obvious, yet less transparent. Not a good sign of things to come, so it will be interesting to see how long they can ride (whore) it out

  2. Dave Bross

    June 5, 2013 8:13 AM

    Probably best to get as many people from your fan page into an email list as possible.

    You own the list, not Facebook.

    Definitely does look like FB is headed towards financial Hari Kari (in keeping with the Japanese suicide theme).

  3. Anna Lewis

    June 12, 2013 11:42 PM

    It’s very clever of Facebook to do this, I guess they need to be increasing the ways in which they can make money and this makes sense.

    I think that if you’re paying for people to like your Facebook page, you’re not going to get targeted traffic, I prefer to go down the route of getting the targeted traffic then making the most of it, however much or little I get. Especially after seeing the cost to promote posts to hundreds of thousands of users – I’ve not seen anything require such a high cost before!

    One thing I like to do to make the most of Facebook (and other) fans, similar to Dave’s suggestion about email, is to tag them with remarketing code so I can advertise to them and get them back to my site to convert. I don’t know if too many other people do this or not? I use AdWords and Analytics to do this, through this method which is nice and simple: http://www.koozai.com/blog/pay-per-click-ppc/the-full-guide-to-remarketing-in-google-analytics-and-adwords/

  4. Laura

    June 27, 2013 7:02 PM

    Love love love this post, thanks Daylan! Really useful and written very well, as ever. I have one client who is forever trying to buy fake likes despite all my wrist slapping, I’m going to forward this to him now. Thanks!