There’s an old saying that goes, “A lazy man works twice as hard.” It means that a person that tries to cut corners will have to work even more when they’re are required to do the work again to make it right. This saying applies very well to buying Facebook likes from websites. Business owners who try to inflate their Facebook like count by paying websites that sell likes by the thousands will see their like counts go down as Facebook increases its efforts to find and remove fraudulent engagement. This article will explain how and why Facebook is targeting fake likes and how they also hurt the brand’s overall efforts to get content and ads to their target audience.
Broadly speaking, fake likes are any likes a Page gets from a service that sells likes by the bundle. There are multiple ways unscrupulous businesses can offer this service. They can create a lot of fake accounts and use bots to like Pages by many accounts at once. They can employ people to like Pages they have no real interest in. Or they can use malware to get real accounts to like Pages without the owner knowing; this often happens when people download apps to their Facebook account that promise to do something barred by Facebook (e.g. put a wallpaper on the timeline) but instead are just malware.
Whatever the method for generating the likes, Facebook is aggressively purusing these likes and removing them from like counts. The engineers at Facebook aren’t stupid and can easily spot if a large amount of likes are being generated in an unusual way. For example, they can create algorithms to notice if a large amount of likes for the same unrelated Pages are produced by the same set of people or within a small area in a limited period of time. It’s a waste of money for business owners who will lose the likes they pay for and over the the last six months, Facebook has tripled the number of likes they’ve detected and blocked before they ever reached a Page.
Facebook has also upped the ante for marketing firms by notifying Page administrators when they find fraudulent likes on their account.
“In addition to removing fake likes directly from Pages, we now send notifications to Page administrators when we block or remove fake likes from their Pages to help them learn how to gather authentic fans,” wrote Kerem Cevahir, a site security engineer for the company, in a blog post on Facebook. Since introducing this feature in March 2015, we’ve notified 200,000 Pages that we’ve protected their accounts from fake likes.”
This means that any company that is selling likes will have their clients constantly reminded that their efforts are being blocked by Facebook. This prevents marketing firms from contracting these services but not telling their client. In the end, whoever owns the Page is listed as a Page admin and they will get the fraudulent like notification.
Undoubtedly, some people will decry this move by Facebook, but in reality, fake likes do more harm than good. As we’ve discussed before, Facebook takes into account Page engagement rates when deciding which Business Page posts to show consumers. Similarly, it’s considered when deciding when and where to deliver a Page’s legitimate ads. Any Pages with artificially inflated like counts from fake likes that don’t engage with the content are harming themselves. It makes it “harder and more expensive to reach the people they care about most”.
It’s important to note that there is a huge difference between buying bulk likes and using Page Like ads on Facebook to promote a page. Unlike a site that offers to sell a certain number of likes for a certain price, Facebook Page Like ads aren’t guaranteed to work, and only the people who see the ad and choose to like the Page are the ones the ones who become fans. Fans generated through a Page Like are true fans and have shown an interest in the brand or the content they produce.
So any money spent on fake likes is wasted at best and at worst counterproductive. As I said at the outset, it’s truly a case where the lazy marketer works twice as hard. In the end, the number of likes a Page has isn’t the ultimate determining factor of the quality of a social media campaign. It’s far better for a brand to connect with 100 genuine fans than add 10,000 random people who don’t care about the company.
For more information about reason’s a Page’s likes may go down, read this article about Facebook’s recent policy change that removed legacy and deactivated accounts from Business Page like counts.