April 18, 2011

The danger of buying Facebook fans



A word of warning to brands looking to expand their Facebook footprint: There are no shortcuts

Editor’s note: A lot of social media marketers discuss how to create a Facebook presence or manage walls and Pages. But few go into details about strategic use of advertising on Facebook. In this series, industry expert Dennis Yu outlines the mix of strategy and analytics that’s required. Also see:
• Part 1: How to run an effective Facebook campaign for $5

Guest post by Dennis Yu
CEO, BlitzLocal

dennis-yuShould you “buy” Facebook fans from vendors that sell on a cost-per-fan basis? We have gotten this question a lot over the last couple of years, so let this article be your guide.

The short answer is: If it sounds too good to be true, then listen to your instincts. Whatever you decide, make sure the ads are being run in your own account, no matter what excuse they give you.

You’ve probably come across services that promise to deliver fans for just pennies each. (Or even cheaper!) That’s like saying you can buy a brand new iPod for a dollar. What’s the catch? Most of them can’t deliver, and most of the ones that do are offering you what’s effectively poison. Some reputable social advertising agencies like Epic Social can deliver you quality, but they are rare.

The top varieties of Facebook flim-flam

Here are the main flavors of snake oil, why they’re dangerous, and how to spot them:

Get 10,000 fans!

FB-fan-sitesIf you see any variation of this, run. Often they have only a couple of hundred fans themselves. It’s no different than SEO vendors that promise links and yet have no Google PageRank or inbound links to show for themselves. Notice that you don’t see any customer testimonials — at least not real ones. And their fan page looks like something pulled out of an infomercial selling dietary supplements. They probably just switched the images out on that landing page to sell whatever is hot.

Fans for pennies!

If you see a self-checkout right on the page where you can send a PayPal payment or order fans in bulk, run. You’re getting bot traffic, international traffic, traffic rings and other so-called fans that will never result in engagement or sales of any kind. Now if you just want to be able to say you have 100,000 fans but don’t care beyond a single boasting metric, then go for it.

Link exchanges!

The idea here is: If you fan me, I’ll fan you. Often there’s a credit system in place where it’s not a one-to-one trade, as you find on Twitter. Some of these trades are automated fan exchanges. Not only is this against the Facebook Terms of Service, but these firms require you to give them administrative access to your page. Might as well give them your social security number while you’re at it.

Our ‘proprietary’ system!

These charlatans will try to sell you an ebook or software, promising the “secrets” to making millions. If you believe that, I’d like to sell you some oceanfront property in Colorado. Do they have real examples to share, or must you pay to see them?

The alternative: A marketing strategy for fan acquisition and valuation

In the end, there’s just no substitute for a clear marketing strategy for fan acquisition and valuation. On Facebook, three things are key when appealing to customers: Decide what your best customers look like, write ads that appeal to them, and send them to a landing page that makes good on that compelling value proposition. Then test like crazy to fine-tune your targeting, ad copy, and landing pages. Know what your fan costs and what a fan is worth — hopefully, the former is greater than the latter.

The hucksters described above present you with a simple shopping cart check out to sell fans — select how many fans you want and then pay. Yet how could they possibly deliver on that promise if you don’t inform them of your unique selling proposition, which particular audiences to go after, and how you will engage or convert them? Are you trusting them to write whatever ad copy they want, buy traffic from underdeveloped countries, or make misleading promises about your brand to encourage users to click Like? We’ve seen some firms place a dozen Like buttons on a page and offer an incentive to users who click on all of them. Those users who are clicking on the Like buttons machine gun style — have they had a chance to learn about your brand?

Using analytics to optimize your outreach and campaigns

Click-through rate & cost per click

Click-through rate & cost per click advertising by industry on Facebook

No amount of software or gimmicks can substitute for not having a strategy in place. A key component of that strategy is analytics. You must be able to measure fan quality so that you can use this as a basis to optimize your campaigns. What is a fan worth to you? What are you doing with these folks once they become a fan? And how do you identify and reward your most loyal fans — the people who love your product or service in real life?

The idea of spending money on Facebook ads just because the CEO said to do it or because your competitor has more fans is ludicrous. You might be inviting derelicts to loiter in the lobby of your high-end hotel, which will discourage the very customers you want to serve. Your real fans will notice who is in your community and decide whether they want to spend time with you there.

Imagine your fan page now has a bunch of 13-year-olds from Indonesia and Turkey (no offense, folks). These could be people who clicked Like on your page because they wanted to earn some FarmVille dollars for a Facebook game. Not only do they not know about your product, but they don’t even speak English.

A simple litmus test for quality

Of 11,000 Facebook campaigns we analyzed in a recent study, the cost per fan was $1.07 — but the cost to acquire a customer varies dramatically depending on sector.

Whether you’re evaluating your page, the agency you’re considering, or the clients they put forth as examples, just look at their wall. Is there a lot of user interaction relative to how many fans they have? Count up the number of Likes and comments for the most recent post, which is the number of interactions. Divide that by the number of fans they have. If it’s less than 1 in 200 (half a percent), then the engagement rate is low.

Your cost per fan depends upon the industry your company is in, how well you can capitalize on your brand’s real-world awareness, and how effectively you run your Facebook campaigns. Of 11,000 Facebook campaigns we analyzed in a recent study, the cost per fan was $1.07. But that averages out entertainment categories that are half that cost, versus healthcare and financial companies that might be five times the cost. Just like in regular Pay Per Click marketing or even direct marketing as a whole, the cost to acquire a customer varies dramatically.

So determine what your real world customer is worth, ensure that your Facebook fans are of the same quality, and then apply the same ROI measurements you’d apply to any other channel. Don’t entrust your marketing strategy or Facebook advertising to an outsider. Does this mean don’t hire an agency? No, just make sure you run the strategy, while they execute the details. Does this mean don’t buy Facebook ads? No, just make sure you’re connecting with your valuable customers and nurturing them in a profitable way.

We’ll talk about how to craft the right strategy in the next article in our series.

What do you think? Have you seen these kinds of offers? Have they worked for you?

Dennis Yu is Managing Principal of Webtrends, a provider of social analytics software, as well as CEO of BlitzLocal, which does local online advertising. His team of 40 analysts have run 1,100 Facebook campaigns for global brands over the last four years. He studied finance at Southern Methodist University and economics at the London School of Economics. If you have any questions, please email him at [email protected] or visit him on Facebook, Twitter or his blog.

How to run an effective Facebook campaign for $5 (by Dennis Yu on Socialmedia.biz)

Demystifying how Facebook’s news feeds work (Socialmedia.biz)

15 ways to increase your Facebook stature (Socialmedia.biz)

Cheat sheet: Key principles of social media marketing on Facebook (Socialmedia.biz)

SEO: 9 tips for optimizing a nonprofit site (by Dennis Yu on Socialbrite.org)

15 ways to increase your brand’s impact on Facebook (Socialmedia.biz)

Ultimate guide to marketing on Facebook (Socialmedia.biz)

Social media marketing: Facebook & Twitter aren’t enough (Socialmedia.biz)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

33 thoughts on “The danger of buying Facebook fans

  1. I've definitely seen these kinds of numbers, and have tried a few (mostly on Fiverr) for some fan pages that I'm not really dedicated to. The result was yes, I have a huge number of fans. But do those fans actually engage or give a flip about what that page is doing? Absolutely not.

    The only area where “buying in bulk” works is for the people who hit your page and decide whether it's worthwhile based on the number of fans it has. Some may look on a page and think it's just starting out if there isn't a huge lot of fans. And those same people may consider new pages inexperienced and thus choose not to fan it themselves. It's certainly not the right viewpoint, but it is out there.

    • Kristi, well-stated. Even for those folks that believe a large number of fans is impressive, there's nothing as strong as when the open graph plugin tells which of your friends like the page. That is the real key to conversion rate optimization. You might as well have 1 million Myspace friends, for those of us who remember the days of Myspace friend trains.

  2. Not only in facebook but also in twitter. As Kristi Hines said they do well in numbers but not so in social engaging which is the most important part of social media work for you. It could be tempting to do at once but the result in more like so-so.

  3. Thanks for posting the image directly from my website (the first image).
    Don't discount the power of social proof. No one wants to follow a page that has 10 followers. Its tough out there to get your word out and get people to your page and only having a few followers is another potential rejection point of a fan. There is no substitute for having a custom landing page, a video or two…but the real power is having them as a fan and updated into their feeds. More people liking something that is in the feed will help boost your updates to the most popular in their feeds too. People are not going to spend very long on your facebook page. They just want to be kept up to date with what you are doing, so there is no substitute to having good content. What my service and some others do however is provide 100% real people to your accounts. How you choose to interact with them after and what your trying to pitch is really no different than spending money on facebook ads, getting them to your page (and you HOPE they like you then) and THEN trying to get them to stay around. I simply get guaranteed real people to actually like your page no matter how good/bad your content is. After that, its up to you.

    Page admins still need to realize that they should have a custom landing page (which I do as well) that will get their key points accross quickly, capture an email opt-in/download a free pdf, or watch a video. Those are some of the best ways to market your page….vs the first page potential fans seeing is your wall.

  4. As mentioned previously it can be about creating a brand image. You need people to see you as a reputable company/product and nowadays 'likes' are becoming a good way in satisfying customers curiousity and doubts about whether to buy your product.

    like you say which would you choose

    1) A page with 17 followers/likes
    2) Page with 17,000 followers/likes

    • yes I agree with you shaun because no one will follow a page with 17 followers/likes my suggestion is we can buy facebook fans at the initial stage

  5. There is nothing wrong with buying Facebook Fans.
    Do you think paying for commercial time on TV is wrong? Or having to pay someone to post flyers on cars? How about newspaper ads? Everyone seems to think it's unethical and wrong but in reality it's not. And the plus points? If you buy from the right people you may get real fans out of the deal. If you purchase “Real” Fans who's to say they might not like what you are offering? They are real people right? Well. That's the real question. What are you paying for?

    So. Buying real fans is worth the investment for lots of reasons. Newsfeed updates, exposure, and the overall appearance that your page is Liked by many. Who wants to be the only one at a party?

    When buying fans you need to ask yourself this. If someone is charging .002 cents per fan than what are you really getting? What do they pay these people with? I'll tell you. You're getting a bunch of empty profiles made in India (No offense, just pulled the name out of a hat) by some second rate program. You're NOT getting real people. And that's the problem. Does it make your page look better? For a while, but lets look into this a little more? Do you know what Facebook uses to determine ranking and posting on Facebook? It's their new Edge Rank system. Only insiders know the real details about it, but it dictates, based on a formula what, when and where to post things on the newsfeed.This is based on the 3 major factors. In a nutshell. Empty non-active profiles (Fans) actually bring down your overall score. Come on now, Facebook isn't dumb. They can see that 10,000 of a pages fans are not real. You have the numbers, but your score drops so much you'll never get seen.

    Point is, and now comes MY pitch.

    I've spent a good deal of time building my massive network. And I do offer a Facebook 'Fans for sale' service. Why is mine different? It's because I only use REAL people in my network. Hear that? LOL. Real Likes that won't drop your edge rank score, will be active if they like your page and are…. again, real profiles.

  6. Hi Dennis. Thank you for this article. I'm French but currently working in Viet Nam as a Marketing Manager and I have started to work on the fan page of my company. I didn't know that buying fans was an “option”. When I knew it was something possible, I gave it a try (using website such as bulkfans, buyrealfansandlikes…). My review is that fans were delivered, but most of them looked like fakes profiles (with really strange names). Anyway, we got a nice amount of fans on our page now and it seems easier to attract new one too. Lately I've tried another website “www.easy-fans.com”. It is not really famous and seems pretty new too but I was pretty satisfied. Fans were delivered as promised and were real (ordered 1000 usa fans). Even if they don't interact a lot with me right now, I will try to find some ways to get them involved. Wish you a great day and thanks again for your article.


  7. I was looking for a site to purchase facebook fans, and i couldnt find a site that looked legit. I was then referred to ” target=”_blank”>http://www.buyinvites.net by a friend. I decided to puchase the fans, and it was amazing! They were able to get me REAL active fans to my page. My sales have gone up and everything. I would highly recommend them.

  8. Dennis,
    I recently have began to venture into facebook marketing and exposure in social media. Like many of the other comments above the reason to buy facebook fans is to build your social credibility and fans, not necessarily for the exposure of active engaging fans. I have had a lot of success with purchasing fans through http://newfacebooklikes.com. Also in regards to purchasing facebook fans is that in order to receive new fans you need a built fan base to begin with. Why would anyone ever like a page with only 15 likes vs. 1500 likes.
    Just saying

  9. There is nothing wrong with buying Facebook Fans. 
    Numbers can say a lot about a person…and a business with more fans,followers looks more legit.
    I mean would you buy from a company that have 1.500 fans or from a one that have 15.000 fans that are active..
    And have you consider how much time do you need to build a fan base from scratch? 
    That said i think you as a business you need to buy fans.

  10. Well sometime its just about seeing your profile active, or having X amount of likes, people assume that you/your company is very active and thus considering it authoritative, http:www.fbamplify.com also supplies real facebook likes,

  11. Yeah I agree there’s nothing wrong with buying Facebook likes to give your page or site a boost, especially if it is new. Just make sure that the provider is using real Facebook accounts and not a software that just hacks in and changes the like count. Some providers are good, I like these guys best:   http://buy-facebook-likes.net/

  12. I have tried 4 websites offering the same services as this one, but all of them failed to deliver what they advertised. Then, I tried my last one http://www.gilservices.com and was skeptical about this one too but I was able to talk to a representative on the phone and that gave me more confidence so I went ahead and ordered the gold package and more than what I ordered. I really recommend this company for facebook fan services.

  13. The only danger is If the fans you’re buying comes or generated through a software and does not come from a natural promotion.Although recently facebook has adopt some measures to delete all the fake profiles and fans but I think It eventually are not enough to stop them all.

  14. @fansnfollower I too have bought lots of Facebook fans and Twitter followers from  http://www.buyfansnfollower.com. It’s a very genuine site that provides high quality fans and has excellent customer service! And did I mention that they have the cheapest prices! Highly recommended!

  15. If tryed buylikes4you looks really nice on my page. its only a number thats what it is thats what you buy thats what you get dont expect business or something of those people you actract people with that number.
    only thing i can say he delivered

  16. BuyFacebookLikes.Ws is a good site to Purchase Facebook Likes because it offers Genuine World Likes of Active Users at best competitive prices. I have used the services of this Web and found them awesome.

    • @Ruzy Yeah it is a good site to purchase Facebook Likes because it offers real likes in short period of time and at cheaper cost. I also purchased Facebook Likes from there.

  17. Guys you should also check out buyfansnfollower.com. It offers the best price on the market and they complete their order in less than 24 hours. I order from there a lot for my clients and they never cease to amaze me. A lot of times, they completed the order within minutes of my ordering.

  18. I have bought 20,000 likes now from http://buyfacebooklikes.ws/ , I am very happy with my business. Now my business is increasing fast. I like it. This service is  honesty or believable. I will buy more likes on my Facebook Fan pages or FB pages. this service is credible. I agree with this website.

  19. I actually looked for FB fans and Twitter Followers for my page that just started, but aside from getting bot likes from fiverr (I tried but did not run smoothly) I found out someone who can help us getting real fans. You can also check them out. They are very nice people. This is their website. http://www.bestsocialprovider.biz/
    Here is my FB page you might want to like it as well :)

  20. And yet the author links to and recommends a quality site that Google gave me the huge red flag of phising on. Epic Social. Yeah.