What Damage Can Fake Likes Do?
Social Media isn’t all about the numbers, and it’s vitally important to your hospitality brand that you get it right. There is so much competition and choice of venues available, that you need to be online and ready to work hard to stand out – otherwise, your potential customers are going to go elsewhere.
Once you’re online, you’ve got to start building your audience – connecting with people who fit your target customer, who are interested in what you have to say and could come and spend with you.
It’s not a fast process – there’s an element of trial and error involved, and it requires constant maintenance to get it right.
But when your social channels are done correctly, you build a lasting community and a strong following of people who are genuinely interested in supporting your venue, and encouraging their friends and social connections to come and do the same.
You might think then, that the bigger an audience you have – the more customers you’ll generate. But that only works if your audience is made of real people. Sure, it might look good to have 15,000 followers – but if your engagement rate is poor, and the majority of those likes are fake likes – then you’re running a number of different risks.
Let’s assume that you purchased 10,000 fake likes for your Instagram page, sounds like a great way to boost the numbers right? Surely with that amount of Likes, people visiting your page will think you’re really popular and get involved? Surely with that amount of likes, you’ll show up more in the search rankings and get a huge audience? Surely it’ll be worth the money?
‘While having a bunch of likes is valuable, it’s only a productive marketing strategy if you’ve achieved them organically.’ – Caroline Forsey, HubSpot
There are several problems with purchasing Likes, firstly – and perhaps most importantly, if Instagram discovers that this is what you’ve been doing, you immediately run the risk of your account being closed down. Purchasing fake Likes is against the terms and conditions of the site – and you could jeopardise your entire Social Media presence and Marketing plan.
Fake accounts are often responsible for large follower drops, and every month Instagram, purges suspect accounts.
Then there’s the issue of engagement. Those likes that you’ve just bought are NOT coming from real human beings who may purchase from you, they’re coming from banks of phones hooked up to a computer system – artificially boosting your numbers does nothing to help you attract new customers – not a single one of those 10,000 new likes will directly result in a new customer to your venue. All it does is mask the engagement you’re getting with genuine people.
Thirdly, when it comes to analysing how effective your campaigns are, your numbers will be totally wrong. You may be able to identify the correct number of genuine followers based on location if yours is a local business, but you still won’t be able to check the age or gender profiles – or the correct days and hours when they are most active. The more information you’re able to cultivate from your metrics, the more you’ll be able to tighten up your social media strategy – but if you don’t know who’s real and who isn’t, you’re not going to be able to innovate new ways to engage and attract their custom.
Real World Case Study
Client X has 9781 followers, and on average gets a combined total of 50 likes and comments, giving an engagement rate of 0.52%, pretty low right? It might seem that way at first – but what do the real numbers say?
By looking at the geographical demographics of the account, we can see that only 6% of the total followers are in the target location, this equals around 586 followers, which means that the engagement rate is actually a healthy 8.7%.
‘Instagram accounts with less than 1,000 followers tend to have an average 8% engagement rate, while those with 1,000-10,000 followers tend to have a 4% engagement rate. Those in the 10,000-100,000 range tend to have a 2.4% engagement rate, while those with over 1 million followers tend to see a 1.7% engagement rate. These numbers can be helpful in benchmarking who buys Instagram likes, and who’s the real deal.’ – Maddy Osman, SproutSocial
Marketers worth their salt can identify these issues and adjust their reports to give accurate data, but it’s time-consuming, and if you’re not confident in what they’re doing, why are you letting them run your channels? Wouldn’t you rather your Marketing team spend their time on more important matters like creating engagement and exceptional content? It’s great to have a working knowledge of what’s going on, and of course, you want to make sure your Marketer keeps you in the loop with regular reports – but you’ve hired them for their skill and expertise, it’s far more cost-effective and better use of your budget to understand what they’re doing, and then let them get on and do it.
Buying likes isn’t going to fool your audience into thinking you’re better than you are – all it will do is put you at risk of losing your account due to service violations, reduce people’s trust in you, cost you money – and damage your business in the long term.