Business owners work hard for likes on their Facebook pages, a great form of social validation. It’s a sign that companies are building an army of followers and increasing engagement from people who actually want to interact with their brands. The trouble is that recent data indicates some of these likes may not be from potential customers or even real people, but from bots using fake accounts for nefarious ends. The degree to which these fake accounts are skewing actual social interaction is a cause for concern, especially among those using Facebook for marketing or advertising. Here’s a closer look at the issue.
Tales from the dark side. There is a shady economy operating on Facebook, one in which vendors have sold fake likes, advertisers have paid for clicks, and businesses try to make their Facebook pages appear more popular than they really are. And the social media giant is now moving to correct the issue. Wired
Too little, too late. Some Facebook users aren’t impressed with the social network’s efforts, claiming company executives have willfully ignored the problem for too long, cheapening the value of marketing for brands, or are now over reacting and penalizing some innocent users unfairly. For obvious reasons, Facebook hasn’t revealed how it is going after fake accounts, but this lack of transparency leaves many questions. PC World
A matter of integrity. In a post about its intentions to aggressively purge the network of questionable accounts, Facebook’s staff acknowledges that a like coming from someone with no interest in connecting to a brand benefits no one. Many business owners work hard to generate likes for their pages, but may not be getting what they expect. Facebook Security
Cause and Effect
Sizing up the competition. Business owners should use social media like Facebook and Twitter not just for gathering customer demographics as people visit their pages, but also to learn about their competitors to find out which customers they are targeting and how. The realization that many likes may not be from real customers at all could spell trouble for both of these approaches. Small Business Trends
Following the golden rule. Cendrine Marrouat shares some golden rules about social media strategy, among them the importance of listening, being human, and building relationships. Again, readers may wish to check out the concerns about fake accounts on Facebook and consider how much more difficult this makes things when planning your social media approach. Creative Ramblings
Social media magic. No matter what the controversy, business owners will still want their Facebook pages to be liked, and will still work to build the best networks they can. Building that network as quickly as possible is important too, even if Facebook and other social media sites keep changing the rules of the game. Brad Smith demonstrates some shortcuts. Social Media Today
Taking the road less traveled. Facebook, of course, isn’t the only social media network out there, and as digital marketing blogger Andy Williams points out, alternatives like Google+ are worth checking out, even if they still don’t have anywhere near the audience Facebook has. The fact is that Facebook has too many users to be ignored. But don’t close the door on other options. Koozai
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