Buying Facebook ads? Looks like you’re wasting your $ collecting fake followers and bot traffic…

If you own a Facebook fan page (or you’re planning to make one), you’re probably thinking — “How the hell do I get more followers, likes, and engagement?” Whether you’re an individual, ‘influencer’, or a company aiming for that celebrity-­like status over social media, you’ve probably tried the almighty Facebook Ads. Whenever people mention something about how to gain people’s attention over that famous social media platform, that’s the first thing people blurt out.

But what kind of followers do you really get when you use Facebook ads? Lately, top publications have been printing expose after expose revealing the truth…

First of all, let’s look at how Facebook Ads work: Facebook will target users based on criteria that you choose, like location, demographics and profile information. After creating your ad, you will have to set a budget and price you’re willing to pay for each click or impression that you want your ad to receive. In return, ‘users’ will see your ads in the sidebar of Facebook or they see it as a related post in their newsfeed. That’s how it’s supposed to work, anyway…

Sometime around last year, we had a new client (let’s call him Jack) who told us that his company was struggling to increase their follower count on Facebook, so they could appear more popular than their main competitor. He had thought that it was an easy problem to fix, because the company was willing to spend a lot on Facebook ads. Like most would assume, they thought that as long as they’re dishing out money for Facebook ads (instead of buying followers in bulk), that their Facebook follower count would translate into sales or real engagement.

However, they hadn’t seen any increase in sales — despite spending tens of thousands of dollars on promoted Facebook posts and ads — so they had taken a break from paying for ads. What was alarming was that the moment they took a break and stopped paying for Facebook ads for a month, the activity on their Facebook Page died. They went from getting about 2,000 to ­5,000 likes per boosted post, to a pitiful >50 likes per non-boosted post. When customers look at a Page and see a drastic drop of likes in the posts, it’s obvious that something is wrong. It makes it seem as if people literally lost interest in the company or product.

So they posted a win-a-prize contest that was meant to engage their followers. But although they’d accumulated over 20,000 followers using Facebook ads, only 18 followers in total entered the contest. Where were all the others??? The mechanics of the game were pretty simple: like and share the post and you can win some of their products (which, supposedly, all their followers should want). Since the mechanics were very simple, what stopped people from joining?

As it turned out, their new followers weren’t exactly human…

A recent experiment from the Advertising Research Foundation found that blank ads performed only slightly worse than regular ads on Facebook’s platform. So, it would seem, that almost all of the clicks on Facebook’s promoted posts are from bots. Jack came to a similar conclusion:

“Anytime a page [on our website] was loaded [via the Facebook promoted/ad post], we’d keep track of it. You know what we found? That 80 percent of clicks we were paying for were from bots. That’s correct. Bots were loading pages and driving up our advertising costs. Facebook was charging us for clicks, yet we could only verify about 20% of them actually showing up on our site.

At first, we thought it was our analytics service. We tried signing up for a handful of other big name companies, and still, we couldn’t verify more than 15% to 20% percent of clicks. So we tried contacting Facebook about this. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t reply.”

Also, upon checking their standing in comparison to their competitor (who used influencer marketing but not Facebook ads, as far as they could tell) on the Facebook statistics, their competitor had real and high engagement (and, no doubt, real sales too) because of real people commenting, liking and sharing their posts.

It just goes to show that no matter how much money you dish out directly to Facebook, you’re just paying to get fake followers that don’t leave comments and bot traffic that doesn’t convert to sales. (And that’s just sad, isn’t it?)

There are a lot of things to consider before using this option, plus the fact that there are other alternatives — ones that focus on quality over quantity — in order to build an effective Facebook community.

Here’s a video that does a good job of covering this issue:

Check out Juice Rocket for services that will organically grow your following and engagement.

(Article written by Hilary Rowland, CSO of Juice Rocket.)

Intrigued? Here’s some more reading:

— New Republic: How Bot Farms Have Inflated Social Media Value

— Forbes: Facebook ‘Investigating’ Claims That 80% of Ad Clicks Come From Bots

— Technology Review: The Hidden World of Facebook “Like Farms”