In this post, I talk about why Pages who buy Facebook Likes are hurting in 2016, and what to do if it’s too late and half your audience is in Turkey.
With Facebook organic reach being what it is, brands that bought Facebook Likes back when “fan count” numbers were extremely popular are now hurting much more than those who chose the slow and steady route. To be clear – I’m not talking about Likes accrued via a targeted, authentic Facebook Page Likes ad campaign purchased via Facebook’s ad platform. If placed and optimized by a legitimate marketer or agency, those Likes are actually helping your brand. I’m talking about the sketchy, Get 100,000 Likes for $40! website offers that don’t guarantee anything but a number.
First, let’s look at why brands and Pages even buy Facebook Likes in the first place. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, vanity metrics were the hot topic. Everyone wanted to have more followers, more fans, more Likes and more subscribers. Pages thought that by buying Likes, they’d appear more popular, thereby leading their actual audience to Like their Page because of their popularity. The News Feed was first introduced in 2006 – algorithm free – Pages were first introduced in 2007 and EdgeRank (Facebook’s original News Feed algorithm) was released in 2010. In 2013 (and the years since), Facebook drastically cut Pages’ organic reach, claiming that users’ News Feeds were becoming too cluttered with Pages’ content and people weren’t seeing enough of their friends’ posts. They began penalizing Pages for use of memes, click bait-y captions and other methods Pages were using to attempt to growth hack their way into the News Feed. But while brands using those tactics could change their creative and strategy, it was too late for the Pages who chose to buy Facebook Likes.
So how, exactly, do fake Facebook Likes hurt your Page?
While EdgeRank is no longer the method Facebook claims to use (their algorithm is proprietary) we know at least some of the factors that Facebook takes into account when serving posts in your News Feed. The first element is totally unaffected by fake Page Likes is time decay – how long ago was the post published. Facebook isn’t going to serve you posts that are five years old (unless they received some recent engagement). Another is affinity score – how often a person interacts with the person or Page that published the post. While this isn’t directly affected by bought Page Likes, it is indirectly affected in a sense. Think about it – a person who might have a high affinity for your brand doesn’t get the opportunity to engage with it because they aren’t seeing your posts – their “view” was wasted on a person whose name you can’t pronounce in a country you didn’t know existed.
The most important and most obvious factor that affects Facebook Page reach and that undeniably is affected by bought Likes, is engagement rate – are this Pages’ posts getting a high amount of engagement? Facebook assumes that if a Page gets a higher amount of organic engagement, that not only that post in particular, but all of their content, must be relevant and useful to their audience, so Facebook will serve that post more. The way fake Facebook Likes hurt this is obvious. Say 50% of your audience is in Turkey and speak Turkish. It can be assumed that when you post to your Page, around 50% of the people it is served to are also in Turkey. But, your post is in English. Your business is only in the U.S. And more than likely those “fans” in Turkey are simply email addresses used to set up a Facebook account for the sheer purpose of getting your Page Likes. They are not going to interact with your post. Facebook, however, doesn’t know all this. The algorithm simply sees that a lot of your fans really aren’t interested in what you have to say. So it takes that into account, and it stunts the reach of your post, and slowly stunts the reach of your Page. But hey. Your Page looked really popular in 2008 – so you have that going for you!
I didn’t know! How can I fix this?
As far as I know there isn’t a way to remove fake Likes. Perhaps you could reach out to the company you bought them from, but I doubt a company that makes money selling Facebook robots is really going to be willing to help you out. The best way to slowly gain momentum again is to make sure you’re targeting your posts to the right audience. Note: This is not a quick fix. But, over time, Facebook will notice that your audience is more engaged and will start to serve your posts more.
Here’s how to do it:
- Set your preferred Page audience
A preferred Page audience essentially tells Facebook which of your Likes are most important to your business, and who you’d like to connect with. This does not guarantee that only people who fall into these categories will see your posts, but just that Facebook will “do their best” to put your content in front of people who matter to you most.To set this, go to your Page > Settings > Preferred Page Audience. Then type in the demographic you want to target the most. For example, if your business targets entrepreneurs in the U.S., you may want to set your preferred Page audience to everyone in the U.S., ages 22-55, who show an interest in entrepreneurship and speak English.At the very least, if you’ve purchased Facebook Likes, you’ll want to set your preferred Page audience to the country you do business in, and the language you / your business uses.
- Set your preferred post audience
Similar to the preferred Page audience, a preferred post audience tells Facebook who you’d like to reach with that specific post. Again, it isn’t guaranteed that everyone who views this post will fall into the categories you select, but Facebook will favor them in its algorithm. Utilizing the example above, you may have a post that is targeting younger entrepreneurs, so you could set your preferred post audience to target people interested in entrepreneurship and the TV show Shark Tank.
Preferred post audience can only be targeted by interests, not age or location, but we’ll cover that in the next step.
- Set audience restrictions
Audience restrictions are different than preferred audiences in that they let Facebook know that you don’t want this post seen by anyone other than people who fall into these specifics. So if you’re still targeting young entrepreneurs, you could target people age 25-35, but only if you definitely do not want anyone outside of that age range to see your post.Finally, (the most important step if you are one of those people who buy Facebook Likes), you must set every post’s audience restrictions to your country and your language. Every. Single. Post. This will guarantee that that post is not shown to your fake Facebook Likes in Turkey, meaning only relevant people will see your post and be more likely to engage with it. Doing this over time will increase your engagement rate and make your entire Page and its content look better in the eyes of the Facebook algorithm.
If you use the above targeting methods, Facebook Page Likes can still be an important metric. Facebook has a great ads platform with robust targeting that will let you reach people who actually want to Like your Page because they are interested in what you’re selling. Working with a Facebook ads strategist (*toots own horn*) will help you get high-quality Likes at a low cost-per-like. If you’re interested in building your fanbase with real, converting people, email me at [email protected]