Stop! 7 Reasons you shouldn’t buy Facebook Likes

Friday 16th, January 2015

by Dave Thomas

Art & Digital Manager

Like it or not we are obsessed with Facebook Likes. If my next selfie gets any less than 14 likes then I might as well throw myself in the nearest river. And if your brand has any less than 500 likes then you might as well give up now. Right?

Wrong.

But it’s complex. Likes are only one of many indicators of public awareness and campaign success. And more importantly, there isn’t always a direct correlation between the amount of likes a business has and how much business is driven from those likes.

Nonetheless ‘likes’ have quickly become a convenient metric by which to judge e-books by their e-covers so it is unsurprising that “click farms” have sprung up around the world, offering companies the chance to buy thousands Facebook Likes for their business Facebook page for next to nothing.

But is buying Facebook likes really a good idea? Here are 7 points that we regularly tell our clients:

1. It’s not about the ‘likes’

Let’s use an analogy.

Have you ever seen the advertisements at 2am in the morning for products that claim to cure all your illnesses, make you shed 10 kilos, learn French in 12 minutes, all whilst making you appear more attractive to the opposite sex? Impressive claims indeed until you notice the inevitable asterisk that reads “NOTE: This product is effective only when used in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise”. Oh. It’s at this moment that suddenly the magic disappears and you feel cheated.

It’s easy to draw parallels between this and Facebook Likes. Having a large amount of likes, followers, or connections is only valuable if those people are also connected in some way to your business, products or services.  And the only way to generate this interest is through the digital equivalent of a ‘healthy diet and exercise’, aka content.

Post engaging content and quality likes will come. NOT the other way around.

2. You could use the money that you would otherwise have spent on buying Facebook Likes on marketing or advertising activities that really matter.

Ok, let’s acknowledge the main reason that people buy Facebook likes: It’s cheap. Really cheap.

But there are alternate marketing routes that are equally accessible for the budget-conscious and have a better track-record for yielding positive results. Some of these include:

  1. Facebook Ads – Those tasty little gems on the right of your Facebook feed can be targeted to just about any demographic you choose.
  2. Promoted Facebook Posts – Promoted posts appear in Facebook feeds as “Your friend ‘X’ likes Your Business’s Post”. Using Promoted Posts you can target friends of people who like your page, thus expanding your reach exponentially for a very small cost.
  3. Google Adwords – Search Engine Marketing is one of the original here but with the right insider knowledge you can find many other areas where SEM delivers cost-effective results.
  4. You guessed it: Content. And the best part is that content is free! Post a blog article on your field of expertise, record an informative how-to-tutorial, or invite potential consumers to a free seminar.

Aside from being cheap the above marketing methods are low risk, unlike buying Facebook ‘likes’ because….

3. Buying Facebook likes can backfire!

All someone needs to do is take a closer look at your Facebook Page to see whether your Facebook likes are legitimate. Your page’s statistics are visible to the public and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice inconsistencies. Take a look at this recent example when Tony Abbott was accused of buying Facebook likes by the popular YouTube comedy duo the ‘Bondi Hipsters’:

You do not want to find your business stuck in this type of awkward situation.

4. Having lots of Facebook Likes does not necessarily equal good customer engagement.

Facebook runs on an algorithm called EdgeRank that determines which of your posts go into a particular user’s News Feeds. Just because someone Likes your page does not mean that they will automatically see everything you post. In fact, if your business Facebook page has lots of Likes but your posts generate very little engagement, your EdgeRank will drop and almost no one who Likes your page will see your posts, whether they are genuine or paid for. It’s not easy to fool Facebook!

5. Those who pretend to Like your business page are under no obligation to continually do so.

Buying a thousand Likes for your business page does not mean that you will have those thousand Likes forever. This number will diminish as those users eventually begin to unlike your business page. This can happen rapidly, even just a few months after purchasing likes. A Facebook business page that is diminishing in Likes does not present a good prospective for any business and is a liability to your brand.

6. Facebook doesn’t let you reach all your likes… for free.

‘Organic reach’ is generally referred to the number of people that will see your posts, at no cost to you. Your reach includes all the people that like your page, as well as their friends.

Still with me? Ok :)

In 2012, the organic reach of business pages hovered around the 16% mark*. That effectively meant that of the 500 people that liked your page, only 80 of them may get to see your latest post in their feed. Fast forward to 2015, and that figure is estimated to be as low as 6.5% – or in real terms, about 33 out of your 500 likes.

Now if you were to add another 500 ‘fake’ likes to that, sure you’d be now reaching 66 of your 100 likes – but which 66? There is a chance that not one of your loyal, engaged customers will even catch a glimpse of your page. And the more likes you buy, the lower the chances are that your posts will be seen by the people you want.

*Note: Facebook uses approximately 10,000 different factors to determine whether to show your post and the above figures are estimated. If you’re really interested in the full story, check out this article on TechCrunch.

7. Your future Facebook advertising dollars will be wasted

Now that you know all about ‘organic reach’, let’s talk about ‘paid reach’. How do your posts become visible the other 93.5% of your Facebook customer base? Through promoted posts.

It’s both tragic and comical how much buying Facebook Likes can backfire. Imagine that you bought 500 Facebook likes, to go with your 500 genuine likes. At the time it may have seemed like a great investment because you just doubled the perceived popularity of your page.

But was it a good idea?

When you promote a post you pay for the number of people you want it to reach. You can’t differentiate between genuine or fake likes, so to make sure you reach your loyal followers you’ve got to pay to advertise to all 1000 of them. Imagine those people who have purchased 10,000 likes (or more)!

Still sound like a good idea?

In the long term, buying Facebook can prove to be a form of self sabotage because it negates the value of any future Facebook advertising. For the illusion of popularity you suffer the cost of up to 10 times what you’d usually pay for effective Facebook advertising!

Wrapping up

Ultimately a well managed Facebook business page provides huge value for your business, both in terms of customer engagement and sales. Buying Facebook Likes not only fails to achieve either of those objectives, it can even backfire and damage the reputation of your business.

So you want to make Facebook work for you. Is that what I hear you saying? Thought so. Don’t fall into the trap buying Facebook likes, instead focus your time on producing quality content as part of a comprehensive marketing/social-strategy plan to drive genuine, qualified and valuable followers.