Building a large audience on social media platforms offers businesses numerous opportunities relating to communicating the company’s messaging, building credibility with an expanding target market, and improving rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs). Much like the most effective search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns, building an audience takes time and effort, an issue that a growing number of businesses are trying to circumvent through the purchase of “Likes” on Facebook and “Followers” on Twitter.
Here’s the problem: While having a huge amount of Likes and Followers may look impressive, the benefits of building fake audiences pretty much stops right there. Rather than adding value, the strategy results in numerous issues including:
* Fake Likes/Followers cannot engage with posts generated by the business – While the sheer number of a business’ Likes/Followers may have mattered in search algorithms at one time, these easily manipulated social signals are now ignored when it comes to SEO benefits. What matters now is engagement, but that isn’t going to happen with fake accounts. Instead, the immediate result is a plummeting ratio of social signals generated by posts, which will have a negative impact on search engine rankings.
* Changes in Facebook’s News Feed work against fake accounts – The recent changes in how accounts’ posts are seen in the News Feed mean that only a fraction of a page owner’s fans/friends will see each post, unless the company pays to promote them. Absent constant payments for visibility, Facebook measures the quality of each post by, you guessed it, engagement. This works against Like buying in two ways; the News Feed will distribute a portion of the percentage of posts to fake accounts and lower engagement will reduce the percentage of real fans, friends, etc. that will receive subsequent posts.
* Buying Likes/Followers does not build credibility – Spotting fake accounts is a relatively easy activity. For example, if a business suddenly has a huge new group of Likes/Followers from Bangladesh, the vast majority of them are likely to be fakes. For businesses trying to build their brand through trust and credibility, manipulating these numbers can set in motion a situation where the real accounts start wondering what other information is being misrepresented.
While there may be a strong temptation to buy Likes/Followers, do not do it. It will likely start working against your business immediately, while also hurting your target market’s perception of your company over the long term.