Facebook boasted 1.19 billion users in 2013, with 738 million of those classified as active daily users. This enormous figure demonstrates how powerful social media can be as a marketing platform. Almost no other marketing channel can potentially reach that many customers. However, with that much influence, it is only natural that some marketing companies would utilize less than legitimate means of elevating client brands.
One of these methods that has been recognized in recent months is the use of paid likes. This technique typically involves setting up accounts by non-existent users, who are usually third parties paid by marketing firms. These falsified accounts then like certain ads, which bolster the marketing metrics for these agencies. These advertising agencies can then go to their clients and show how well they are doing.
Not only does this perform a major disservice for the clients of these immoral marketing firms, but it also damages the greater marketing community on Facebook. This is because the method used by these fraudulent users artificially inflates likes on other ads as well. Facebook actively polices its community and has introduced algorithms which identify ads that receive an inflated number of artificial likes. To circumvent detection, the fraudulent users must also like a wide range of other pages and ads to present the pretense that they are merely very active users. In many cases, these spurious users hail from other countries like Russia, Philippines and Malaysia, and can produce thousands of likes.
While this may seem harmless, it actually creates an illusion of engagement and undermines authentic marketing strategies. What has occurred is that many ads receive an abundance of likes but with little or no follow up activity. This casts a shadow of inauthenticity for even genuine marketing efforts, as the inflated number of likes doesn’t translate into any visible engagement with the business.
The artificial number of likes also discredits the accuracy of tracking programs. Inflated numbers of likes can drive down the value of certain marketing ventures. If more companies distrust the audits from their ads, it undermines the credibility of the entire marketing field. I
This also skews the marketing strategies of legitimate groups on Facebook. More than one advertiser has tweaked their ad buys in an effort to weed out participation from foreign users. It is only after expending precious time and energy do these advertisers discover that their marketing strategy was not casting too wide a net, but that spam profiles were merely clicking their ads to cover for their unscrupulous actions.
Many Facebook advertisers have urged Facebook to identify these false users and penalize them. It shouldn’t be that difficult to determine that if a user has liked thousands of ads and pages, he is probably not a legitimate user. So far, Facebook has not taken this action.
Industry experts suggest using different metrics and tracking programs to measure ad effectiveness. They also recommend that marketers utilize local targeting so that only responses from a target country or region are measured.