I get it, believe me, I perfectly get it and I’ve been in your position before: Your customer or boss woke up yesterday and discovered that your competitor’s Facebook page has more likes than you do and now wants you to overcome this, on a tight budget. Quickly!
You don’t want to look lame with only a few hundreds likes while your competitor has thousands. So you give in to temptation and even if, likely, you know or feel it’s wrong, you buy likes.
Not acquire, but simply buy. A few hours later, with 0 effort and an expense of few dollars you’ve beaten your competitor and can now brag about having more likes than him…Case closed.
After all, it’s very easy to give in to temptation. A couple of years ago 90% of the spam I received was about Viagra, nowadays my spam folder is full of people trying to sell me black market Likes.
Yep, looks like Likes are the new Viagra…
This post was originally created in late 2014, and we re-visited it in 2016 with new data, Facebook’s updated statement, and quotes. We also created a 5 minute video summary above if you’re in a hurry!
Buying Likes is gonna hurt you!
You have no idea in how many ways buying likes will hurt you. Here’s a very partial break-down:
- EdgeRank: Facebook uses the engagement your page generates to understand how interesting your contents are and how many of your fans should see them. Having thousands of inactive, non-engaged users will make you look bad to Facebook’s eyes and your posts will reach less people organically
- Credibility: Nowadays users are smart and don’t get easily tricked by big numbers. What will they think of you when they see that your page has 1 million fans, but your last post received only 3 likes? I guess you won’t look that reliable!
- Understanding: One of the things I like a lot about building a good fan base on Facebook is the huge amount of information you can pull out of that. How old are your ideal customers? Where do they live? What other interests do they have? All this precious, attainable information will be screwed up once a big chunk of your users are bought.
- Advertising: I’ve lost count of the number of emails I’ve received complaining about this. Once your page is haunted by fake likes, every time you want to boost a post through Facebook Ads, you’re gonna end up wasting a lot of money to deliver your ads to those fake users. There’s just no way to filter them out! We’re gonna talk more about this later… we did some testing and the amount of money you’ll waste is shocking!
- Time: After you realize what a huge mistake you’ve made buying likes, you’ll have to spend an incredible amount of time cleaning up your Facebook Page of all that crap. Be advised, it’s gonna hurt.
Just in case you don’t trust my words, I’ve also reached out to two Social Media Gurus, Mari Smith and Emeric Ernoult. Here’s what they had to say:
I have a *strong* aversion to purchasing Facebook likes (or any social followers). The vast majority are fake accounts and it’s just unethical that companies are selling such a service. Besides, Facebook is fairly relentless about periodically deleting fake accounts.
However, even if there are a few bona fide brokers offering genuine fans for sale, then who exactly are these fans? Are they people with nothing better to do with their time that they’re signing up with the brokers and getting paid a micro fraction per Page they like? Or is there some software program that magically ‘forces’ people to like Pages without them knowing it? Hm. So then you’d be building a Facebook audience with people who were paid or forced to like your Page. It makes no sense to me.
Buying fans is like paying people to be your friends. What do you think is going to happen when you’ll stop giving them money? They’ll go away to the next person that will give them money. There are things you can’t buy, like friendship, trust or genuine interest in what you do. These things you have to earn.
What make Facebook ads way superior than buying fans is that the ad is proposing to become fan, they have a choice. That makes a big difference. As these ads can be laser targeted (like to your website visitors), the people who “opt-in” to become fans are a gazillion time more likely to engage with you.
And it’s not just the big names that agree.
Many agencies, brands, and independent consultants have had to deal with clients or firms that utilized fake Facebook Likes to grow their “audience.” The results?
I had a disagreement with one of my former clients (a multi-million dollar company) who decided to buy fake Facebook Likes. After purchasing fake likes, their Facebook page’s interaction plummeted. There was (and now still is) pretty much zero engagement. The only comments are from the employees or family. Their last comment (in Feb 2016), was “Looking Great [name]! I am [employee]’s Mom!”
Josh Rubin, Owner of Creative California
But Do I Really Need a Facebook Page and Likes?
No. And you can consider that as a really honest answer coming from the CEO of a company selling a Facebook Ads Optimization tool!
The truth is, Facebook is a marketing channel and it can be extremely effective. But it needs time and commitment like any other marketing strategy.
Having a Facebook page without having a social and content strategy to use this channel to bring in new customers to your business is worthless. Even worst, it’s a waste of time. It’s like printing flyers and then not distributing them.
However, if you see the potential of a marketing channel with a potential reach of over 1.6 billion users, then yes you’ll need a Facebook Page, you’ll need likes, you’ll need a strategy to engage them and convert them into customers.
It’s 2016, competition to be visible in the Newsfeed is tough. Creating a page, buying 5,000 likes from an unknown country, and posting once a month to a link in your checkout page cannot even be considered a strategy. It’s just wasting time & money.
I won’t dive into details about why Likes still matter (not as a number but as a way to reach customers), as you can read more about this topic on our recent post on how to get Facebook Likes.
What does Facebook have to say?
Since March 2015, Facebook has taken extensive measures to start automatically deleting fake and inactive users from pages. They have removed hundreds of thousands of inactive accounts.
New advances in our pattern recognition technologies helped us halt many of the major exchanges that promote fake like activity on Facebook originating from click farms, fake accounts and malware.
When we see suspicious patterns of likes coming from or to a specific account, we thoroughly investigate the situation in order to determine whether there is fraudulent activity taking place.
Huseyin Kerem Cevahir, Facebook
And yet despite their best efforts, a quick Google Search of “Buy Facebook Likes” will reveal pages of companies still pitching to those who aspire for Facebook fame.
Ok, Let’s Buy Facebook Likes
As our loyal readers know, we don’t like to make claims that are not supported by data.
We told you that buying Facebook Likes is a total waste of time & money, and to prove it, we set up a little nice experiment at the end of 2014. We also checked back in March 2016 to see how our experiment was holding up!
We created three Facebook Pages with basically the same name and we managed them for other a month publishing engaging contents. For the purpose of the experiment we needed something that would generate a good, measurable engagement even on low numbers. Guess what we choose?
Cats, of course. You may love them or hate them but you cannot ignore a funny cat in your timeline. They’re the kings of Internet memes and they’re also something that you can engage with no matter where you live and what language you speak.
So we set up these pages:
We won’t publish the name of the two sellers because we don’t want to provide them any free visibility, however i’m happy to give you the names if you want to dig deeper, just drop me a line through our contact form.
On all the three pages we published the same content at the same time. Unluckily Seller n.2 was extremely slow in delivering those likes so its users only saw 135 posts compared to the 164 of the other two pages.
The two sellers were selected searching Buy Facebook Likes on Google and picking the first 2 providers. We choose to buy 500 likes from anywhere in the world.
For the Facebook Advertising campaign we targeted 20 different countries with different economies and cultures and we targeted people interested in cats. Remember, when you advertise to get more likes, you want people who are interested in your product/brand/industry.
The experiment was conducted from the beginning of October to the first week of November. We also checked back in March 2016 to test even further.
The Naked Truth about Buying Facebook Likes
|Likes Organic Gain/Loss||68||-59||-103|
|Avg. Post Reach||229.75||23.82||33.69|
|Avg. Post Impressions||411.41||63.64||63.31|
|Tot. Post Reach||36,989||3,859||4,548|
|Tot. Post Impressions||66,237||10,309||8,547|
|Avg. Post Comments||0.94||0||0.04|
|Avg. Post Likes||26.35||0.12||0.54|
|Avg. Post Shares||2.80||0.01||0|
|Tot. Post Comments||152||0||5|
|Tot. Post Likes||4,243||19||73|
|Tot. Post Shares||451||1||0|
|Cost per Action||$0.01||$0.55||$0.54|
|Cost per Like||$0.08||$0.01||$0.09|
I think the difference between the Facebook Ads page and the two where we bought Facebook Likes is so blunt you don’t even need to read the data or our analysis. Just check out those three pages on Facebook and you’ll see the difference! One is lively with Likes, Shares and comments on every post, the other two look like ghost towns.
Let’s start checking what we got for our money: Likes.
The Facebook Ads campaign ran for 1 day and delivered 748 Likes. Seller n.1 delivered 858 Likes, much more than the 500 we bought. Seller n.2 delivered only 595 likes, still more than the 500 we paid for.
In terms of cost per page like, Seller n.1 had an easy win with 858 likes at just $11, that’s $0.01 for each new like! Seller n.2 didn’t perform that well ($0.09)and actually ended up being a little more expensive than Facebook Ads ($0.08).
To be fair we were promoting Cats, an easy win for any marketer. If we were to promote a more business oriented page, Facebook Ads would have ended much more expensive than $0.08 per like, while the price for Seller n.1 and n.2 would have been the same.
But as we said many times. Who cares about Likes? We care about engaged users that can become customers. There was no doubt that black market dealers of likes would have been cheaper in terms of raw cost per like. So… how was the quality of their product? Did those likes engage? Were they really interested in our Facebook Page content?
As we had guessed, they are literally selling crap.
Our page with users coming from Facebook Ads had every post seen on average by 229 users. They also generated, on average, 26 likes per post, 2.8 shares and 1 comment.
The two “Buy Likes” pages performed incredibly poorly. Neither of them managed to reach 1 like per post on average… How can you not like kittens????
One had 0 total comments, the other had 0 total shares.
Total numbers make the gap even more blunt: 4,243 likes on posts for the page with legit likes, 19 & 73 likes on the other two pages. Are you starting to understand why I hate Likes sellers so much? Just check out the most popular post across the three pages:It’s the ABC of each scam. They look for someone that wants something (Likes) for nothing. And they give him nothing (0 engagement) for something.
If you’re a data guy or if you think we’re manipulating the data to make Facebook Ads more appealing, you’re happy to ding into the data yourself, we’re making them public and available for everyone. You can find the full Facebook report for all the three pages here: Google Docs.
An unexpected twist in our experiment
While Facebook publicly announced in 2015 that they were taking action against Bought Likes, they seemingly weren’t doing anything when we started our experiment in late 2014.
It seemed as though Facebook was closing both eyes and not cracking down on all these guys selling fake accounts, likes, clicks.
However, right in the middle of our experiment, the following email was delivered in my inbox. Not by Facebook, but from one of two companies I had bought Likes from. Poor seller N.2 sent me this email:
Seems like Facebook was – and still is – dealing with these Likes dealers and putting an end to the game. Facebook is sending Cease & Desists letters to these companies and you can bet most of them will prefer to close down or keep operating just with Twitter, YouTube and so on rather than fighting Facebook in court.
This, along with Facebook’s 2015 statement on their strategy of automatically deleting inactive users going forward, is great news for every serious marketer looking to build a long-term social media strategy. It’ll also be a well deserved punishment for those bragging about their million-like pages (with 0 engagement)!
While we hope Facebook will find all these fake accounts used by these businesses and close them down, we checked back recently to see how our “fake Likes” pages were doing in 2016…
2016 Update of The Experiment
In March 2016, we re-visited our cat pages to see what’s changed. Facebook had automatically deleted many of the Likes on the “Bought Likes” pages, but enough still remained for us to test for engagement.
To test the remaining Likes on our fan pages, we posted an identical video on all three pages. We then gave it a “Boost” of 5 dollars each (15 dollars total for the test).
What do you think happened?
Yup, even after all that time, and Facebook’s removal of many of the obvious “Fake Likes,” the engagement is still zero on the Bought Likes pages. And that’s with a paid Boost! That leaves only one question…
Are you gonna buy Facebook Likes?
We spent a lot of time on this post and I hope our little experiment was useful in dissuading you from ever buying Facebook Likes. All those “100% real users” guarantees are just crap.
Unluckily, most of these companies send you Likes from users with high privacy settings (Surprise eh?) so we were not able to analyze users who liked the page to find common patterns. But no matter if they are real or fake users – they are not interested in your product, so why would you ever want them on your page?
Even worst, if they are bots, one day the guy who sold you all those Likes could also use them against you. With the click of just one button, they could spam your timelines with links to other pages or websites.
There are many legitimate ways to get more Facebook Likes. In a previous post we discussed 5 ways to get them through Facebook Ads, because it’s usually a very quick and laser focused way. It’s not the only one! There are hundreds of other marketing strategies you can adopt to get Facebook Likes organically without spending a dime!
Just don’t buy them from spammers and scammers. Never. Ever. Ever. Ever. Never!
Have anything to add to this story? Have you bought Likes in the past? Let me know in the comments!
Spread the word!
Found this data useful? We’ve made it super-simple for you to spread the word and embed them in your blog. Here’s an awesome infographic that you can embed in your blog, just copy and paste the html code after it!
Embed code (just copy and paste in your blog):