Buying Fake Followers – A new form of large-scale social identity theft
A recent New York Times article about the social media black market shone a bright light on the shady world of fake followers.
The sale of bots to people seeking social-media popularity at any cost amounts to what the Times called “a kind of large-scale social identity theft.”
At least 55,000 accounts sold by West Palm Beach’s Devumi “use the names, profile pictures, hometowns and other personal details of real Twitter users, including minors,” according to the Times report.
The bot market not only takes a toll on unsuspecting individuals, but also poses a real threat to brands.
“These fake accounts…can help sway advertising audiences and reshape political debates,” wrote the Times. “They can defraud businesses and ruin reputations. Yet their creation and sale fall into a legal gray zone.”
When you’re trying to build the online presence of your brand, buying your way to popularity may seem like a smart shortcut.
There’s a far better way for brands to build a loyal following.
A safer way. The reputable digital marketers and social-media pros at Ideabar offer these guidelines:
Do your homework.
- “Investing time upfront to understand who you’re advertising to and how your offering addresses one of their problems is the best way to position yourself for success,” says Dana Wardeh, Ideabar’s Director of Client Engagement + Digital Strategy. “Hyper-specific targeting will allow you to ensure a high degree of commonality among each member of a given audience.”
Boost, don’t buy.
- “Even the ‘page likes’ campaigns drive a lot of bots and can end up hurting your page in the long run,” says Valerie Del Toro, Ideabar’s social media account manager. “It’s better to build your audience through boosting posts with specific targeting and creating Facebook ads with large reach to a particular audience.”
- “When you pay for likes, you end up hurting your engagement ratio score with the Facebook algorithm,” Del Toro says. “Facebook will start showing your posts less often if you have 10,000 followers and only two likes per post. You should strive to build your followers and engagement together at a steady pace.”
- Says Wardeh, “In February 2015, Facebook launched a feature in the advertising platform that rates your ads and gives a relevancy score, similar to Ad Rank in Google AdWords. Facebook’s Relevance Score is all about the relationship between an ad and its target audience.” The Relevance Score can fluctuate daily, she says: “This is Facebook’s way of ensuring ad content is fresh and relevant. When your ad’s engagement starts to plummet, it’s time to refresh your content with something new.”
You can learn more about reputable social-media practices from the many resources at the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).
Or meet us for a “Happy Hour” to talk about your digital needs. The ideas are on us!
Ideabar by Cox Media Group is a Marketing + Media Agency with expertise in Research + Branding + Creative + Digital.