A National Positions PSA: Fake Likes – Not Even Once

October 1, 2012

I’d like to do things a little bit differently today. I’d like to tell you a story about a man named Bob. Bob is not a real person, but you can be sure that there is someone out there just like him. He’s a small business owner, but what his business does is not important. He’s just a regular guy, running a regular business, trying to get ahead.

One day, Bob decided that it was time to really get his business out there. He knew that other businesses used Facebook, Twitter and all sorts of other sites for promotion. Bob was never what you’d call “tech-savvy,” but he knew enough to know that if he wanted to compete, he’d have to get in the social networking game.

So Bob created a Facebook page for his business.

The problem, however, was that Bob didn’t know a whole lot about social media, so he never posted much. Once or twice a week, he would post links to his website, or post a description of a product he sold. It wasn’t long before he realized that his page wasn’t getting anywhere near as much action as he’d hoped.

Bob began to get frustrated. Not having any likes made his page look bad. He thought “If only I could get a few hundred likes to start me off, things would get better.”

He decided it was time to call in the experts, and headed off to Yahoo Answers.

He posted his question. “How can I get more likes on my business’ Facebook page?” he asked.

It wasn’t long before he got his answer. “just buy sum fake 1s,” said the wise CoDRoolz666. “Nobdy wil noe the difrense.”

“Hey, yeah,” thought Bob. “That might work.”

Then another answer appeared.

“The key to running a successful social networking page is posting engaging and informative content on a regular basis,” wrote MrktingMstr. “Also, don’t forget to post info on sales and specials. Make an effort to engage with your client base. It will take work, but it will be worth it!”

“Pfft, I don’t think so,” thought Bob. “I don’t have time to waste learning this Facebook nonsense. I’m buying me some likes!”

And so he did, and soon Bob’s page looked just like everyone else’s. The fake likes inspired real people to like his page, and Bob was happy.

Soon Bob decided to expand even further. He started buying Twitter followers and Yelp reviews. Everything was going Bob’s way.

Then, one day, it all came crashing down.

Bob logged onto his Facebook, only to find that hundreds of his likes had vanished.

“What? But how?” he thought.

A little Googling revealed the answer. Facebook had brought the hammer down on fake likes, and had removed them from several pages. Suddenly, everyone knew that Bob had bought fake likes.

It didn’t take long before the people who had actually liked Bob’s page suddenly became suspicious of him. “Well, if Bob isn’t honest on his Facebook, who knows what else he isn’t honest about,” they thought. “How can we possibly trust him now?”

Bad reviews began to pop up everywhere. Longtime customers suddenly took their business elsewhere. Bob went from being on top of the world to struggling to stay afloat.

“Oh, why did I have to be so short-sighted?” he shouted to the heavens, as he rent his garments in agony. “Why didn’t I work to build a fan base with informative content and regular updating? WHY DID I TAKE THE EASY WAY OUT?”

 

And for the rest of his days, Bob had to live the knowledge that he had destroyed his reputation and the trust of his customers.

If you’re in the business of online marketing or use social networking for your business, you’ve probably heard the news about Facebook deleting fake likes from brand pages. Even though the pages who lost the largest total number of likes lost less than 1% of their followers, this was still significant.

Artificially inflating social networking numbers is kind of like athletes taking steroids. It may lead to short term success, but once you get found out, people will remember, and some of that trust will be gone.

The problem will only get worse. A recent study projected that 1 in 10 online reviews will be fake by 2014. Let that sink in. By 2012, you may not be able to trust 10% of online reviews.  If people have to sit there wondering whether the review they’re reading is real or not, then why even bother trying?

There’s no point in engaging in this shameless practice. Legitimately building a social network following will yield better long-term results and allow you to connect effectively with your consumer base. Buying fake likes will make you look shady and untrustworthy.

Fake likes: Not even once.

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