Should my business buy friends on Facebook?

This article first appeared on May 28th, 2012.


What are your views on companies buying Facebook “likes” to appear more popular?


Is this is a good strategy to employ as a start-up or just plain deceitful? Is it wrong to buy Facebook “fans”?


The simple answer to this question would be yes, it’s wrong to buy fans on Facebook.


Not only because you’re purchasing this data from sites that have mass-produced user accounts (which is against the Facebook terms & conditions), but the results of paid “likes” will not benefit your business in the long run.


The argument, however, is that buying fans in the early days helps your business appear popular and merely acts as a “kick start”.


One thousand followers obviously looks a lot more impressive than just one (which is you) and the more followers you have, the more likely someone is to click that like button too.


However, there are risks involved in doing this – and not just from a terms and conditions perspective.


You risk adding no real value to your business.


Here are five reasons why:


1. Followers are not usually geo-targeted


Sites that offer to grow the “likes” on your business page do not typically offer targeted users. Even the ones that say they do don’t.


If you own a ladies shoe shop in Brisbane, it’s likely you will end up with 500-plus male followers from the USA and India.


The number may look good for an instant, but on a closer inspection your page will appear very suspicious.


2. Unrelated commentary on page


When someone “likes” your business page, usually they are automatically granted permission to comment and write on your wall.


Real followers with an interest in your business will add value in the form of questions and comments – this will ultimately help promote your business or cement how good you are.


Fake followers, however, are likely to either not comment at all or, even worse, leave completely unrelated messages or abuse.


You may have an impressive amount of followers but if they’re filling your business page with abusive language or arguing with your customers, what’s the point?


It would be the equivalent of paying people to enter your store to start fights.


3. You gain no relevant data


The thing that all online business owners strive for when they launch any kind of digital campaign is to get data that they can use to drive future business.


Data is key to online success and knowing who your audience is and what they respond to has never been easier than it is on social media – unless, of course, you fill your page with people who aren’t your target audience.


All you end up with then is greater confusion over what is actually working for your business.


4. They will leave


This point may not matter to those who just want to buy followers to kick start things, but bought followers will eventually leave. As they do, you’ll be left with a stagnant figure or one that is steadily dropping, which certainly isn’t a great image to portray to those who do follow you.


5. Your brand is at risk


If found out – and it’s quite easy to spot, especially on new pages – your brand will be tarnished for good. Customers will not respect your business if they know you buy followers. It devalues their custom and makes you seem untrustworthy.


No matter what your motive is, it’s arguably top of the list when it comes to online marketing faux pas. It’s unequivocally dodgy ­and you certainly don’t need to be tarnished with that brush when you’re starting out online.


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