There is basically two ways in which you can buy likes on Facebook. You can either buy likes directly from Facebook or you can purchase likes from an external service.
External services have a bad reputation for being click farms and doing nothing more than inflate your subscription numbers. This is why most website owners use the advertising option that is pushed by Facebook. If you are going to buy Facebook likes, you want to get real people subscribing, therefore you should advertise directly with Facebook…right?
Derek Muller from Veritasium believes that this is not the case and has put forward a compelling video that explains how Facebook has profited from click farm companies manipulating Facebook.
He did this by setting up a fan page and then purchasing likes from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia: Countries that are not associated with click farms. He noticed that engagement was super low so delved deeper and noticed something very strange about his followers.
The people who liked his new page liked an incredibly high number of fan pages. Some had followed as many as three thousand pages including all major mobile phone networks within the United States. Why would anyone follow all networks, wouldn't they just follow the one they used? Of course, no one would actually do that.
His theory is that the problem stems from click farms. In order for liking software to generate what appears to be “Real Likes”, they created accounts that were located all around the world. These fake accounts will automatically follow any page that is promoted to them. The problem with this is clear: Due to the high number of fake accounts being created, people who are paying for legitimate likes will be receiving a high number of fake likes as these fake accounts are set up to like legitimate pages in order to blend in. This results in no engagement. Without engagement, Facebook likes are worthless.
Derek noted that the US State Department paid $630,000 to acquire two million Facebook fans, but stopped when they realised engagement was only 2%. This highlights how much money Facebook has profited from this. It would not surprise me if billions of dollars had been paid to Facebook for likes from fake accounts.
As you would expect, Facebook has dismissed the notion that people are paying for fake likes through their official advertising platform. They responded to Ad Age on this issue and said:
Fake likes don't help us. For the last two years, we have focused on proving that our ads drive business results and we have even updated our ads to focus more on driving business objectives. Those kinds of real-world results would not be possible with fake likes. In addition, we are continually improving the systems we have to monitor and remove fake likes from the system.
Whether Derek's theory on this issue is 100% on the money remains to be seen. He did not spend much money on Facebook likes or create several campaigns to see if this was happening across the board. Therefore, he does not have a lot of data to support his claim. However, I strongly believe there is some truth in what he is claiming as many other businesses have reported low engagement rates too.
If you have ever advertised with Facebook Ads, or if you are planning to, then you need to watch Derek's video below:
What's your opinion on all of this? Do you believe that a lot of our paid likes from Facebook are fake?