Get More Likes On Facebook: Fraud Or Not?

By | Last updated May 28, 2015

«Promoting Your Page To Get More Likes On Facebook Is A Fraud.»

This is a strong and bold statement, but you will learn, along this lines (together with the video below), why there are so many people saying that.

Many small businesses are creating Facebook pages to promote their brands and reach new potential customers. One of the first questions they ask is «how do I get more ‘likes’ on my Facebook page?».

They are craving for “likes” because “likes” mean new followers and new followers mean more potential customers who in turn will create traffic and sales.

But you might ask me «can you buy Facebook likes?».
There are two distinct answers to that question. Yes and No.

And it is all related to this…

Buying Likes On Facebook Means Losing Money

But why? Why is it being called a fraud?

It all starts with an elaborated and vicious advertising scheme that offers Facebook two streams of income where its customers spend a lot and benefit very little.

Facebook's main building blocks

Facebook is based on two main building blocks:

  1. personal profile (for users)
  2. fan pages — also called business pages (for companies, famous people, websites and so on)

People sign in, create their profiles and “like” the pages that are of most interest to them so they can follow their updates.

It looks simple, and it really is.

As for page owners, their biggest interest is getting the largest number of followers, i.e. subscribers, or in Facebookian terms: people who “liked” their pages.

Getting the biggest number of “likes” on a Facebook page is — definitely — not an easy task. (I know what I’m talking about.) There are several aspects that contribute to the success of that goal. Some are controllable, others… not quite.

When nothing else seems to work, there is always the possibility of buying “likes”.

And for that there’s the legal way and the ilegal way.

Buy Cheap Facebook Likes

Read as… fake Facebook “likes”…

A quick online search will show us countless options when it comes to taking the ilegal route.

Services that sell “likes” hire people in underdeveloped countries (such as India, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Egypt or Indonesia) to work on what is known as “click Farms”. In those “click farms”, employees — it seems unreal, but it’s true — earn $1 USD per every 1,000 “likes” they do.

Going through the dark side of the law… is, nevertheless, censored and strictly prohibited by Facebook.

Buying Real Facebook Likes

Read as… not so real Facebook “likes”…

Mark Zuckerberg’s social network offers, however, a legal path. We can get new “likes” by advertising our pages on Facebook itself. We only need to hit the “Promote page” button, set up an ad and we’re done.

Facebook ads: Promote page serviceSurprisingly, though, this legal path is not… quite that legal.

Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC’s Technology correspondent, wanted to learn the true value of a “like” and he elaborated a simple experiment.

VirtualBagel: bogus bagel business

He created a Facebook page for the bogus company “VirtualBagel Ltd”. A fake business that sold bagels over the Internet. Its slogan was a funny but scathing phrase: «We send you bagels via the internet – just download and enjoy.».

VirtualBagel's slogan

To promote his virtual business, Rory used Facebook’s “Promote page” service. As targeted countries he picked the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, India, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. He also targeted people with less that 45-years-old, interested in cookery and consumer electronics and Facebook informed him that his ad reach would be of 112 million people.

Only minutes after the advertising was on, he started to get his first page “likes” from people interested in a pointless thing. In 24 hours, Rory had spent his $10 USD budget and had gained 1,600 new followers on his Facebook page.

But Who Were Those People?

VirtualBagel was very popular in Egypt, Indonesia and the Philippines, but almost no one from the US or UK showed any interest. Amongst his new “fans”, the british reporter found some funny characters. Namely this… Ahmed Ronaldo guy. Someone from Cairo who worked at Real Madrid and whose profile was nothing but Cristiano Ronaldo pics.

Nevertheless, the important aspect to notice here was that Ahmed Ronaldo had “liked” over 3,000 other Facebook pages about the most diverse topics and themes.

The experiment continued the following days, with targeted countries being set to the USA, UK and India. But only the Indian people seemed to like the fake bagel business. In only four days, this bogus business had gotten almost 3,000 fans.

When the targeted countries were set to US and UK, new “likes” simply stopped showing up. It looked like Facebook ads were very effective in some countries but quite useless in some other countries.

The question is…
Who are these people who click in every ad they see on the social network and who “liked” hundreds, thousands of pages making Facebook money through its advertising service?

Australian-Canadian Derek Muller, founder and creator of YouTube channel Veritasium, did an experiment similar to Rory Cellan-Jones’.

Derek Muller's Virtual Cat Facebook Test

He created Virtual Cat, an empty Facebook page, and wrote an important disclosure: “only an idiot would like this page“. And the results were similar to Rory’s. Thousands of followers from underdeveloped countries and very few from countries that really mattered.

Virtual Cat: Only an idiot would like this page

What’s Wrong In Having Followers With Fake Profiles?

Derek also paid to promote his YouTube channel Veritasium Facebook page and in no time he had gained twenty times more followers. He later found out that what he posted, instead of reaching a bigger audience now that he had much more followers, reached a lot… less people.

This happens due to fake “likes”‘s behavior which is a lot different from real followers’ behavior. Of the 80,000 new followers, most of them came from the already mentioned underdeveloped countries. Their engagement with the page’s posts was just of 1%. Followers from other countries were fewer in numbers but they interacted with the page much more.

Having fakes “likes” is worst than not having them at all, due to the virality factor (which Derek also explains on the video below).

What Is The Virality Factor?

When a page (or user) posts something new it shows up on some of its (his/her) followers (friends) newsfeed who are online at the same time so that Facebook can gauge their interest.

That interest is measured by the engagement* they show through “likes”, shares, clicks and comments. The bigger the interaction with the post the more important the post becomes. The more important it gets the more people Facebook will show it to. If those people also engage with it a lot a snowball effect occurs and it becomes viral.

*“Engagement” is a social media metric that measures the amount of interaction a person has with social network’s posts through “likes”, shares, comments and clicks.

The Biggest Loser
U.S. State Department were the biggest losers with this advertising system from Facebook. They invested over $630,000 USD to promote their page and “gained” a 2% reach from its followers.

Facebook’s Second Source Of Income

Even worse than this ineffective Facebook advertising service is its second source of income.

As engagement and reach on posts is almost zero (as a “bonus” to add to the thousands of fake followers), the social network offers the possibility of promoting single posts, one at a time.

Making page owners pay Facebook twice. One to promote their pages and get more followers, another to promote their posts so they are able to reach the biggest percentage of those who are already following… their pages.

What To Think About This

If we take what was presented here, if we study and analyse it, we’ll see that Facebook’s advertising service takes advantage of the exploitation of people who work in the so called “click farms”.

Those people click on everything that they see. Whether it’s fan pages who opted for the ilegal way of getting “likes”, or Facebook pages who bet on legitimate Facebook ads. They click everything which helps to mask these kind of ilegal activities and keep them off Facebook’s short-sighted radar.

Mark Zuckerberg’s social network lacks taking serious measures to solve this problem and insists in not going after fakes profiles.

Sometimes, the company informs that it has taken down thousands or millions of fake profiles, but “likes” that were made by those fake profiles do continue to count.

These “likes” are kept alive, even from no longer existing profiles, and they damage Facebook fan pages deeply destroying the amount of investment of those who bet on Facebook ads to promote them.

My Personal Experience

My personal experience also reflects these same issues.

I used Facebook ads to promote one of my fan pages taking it from 10 thousand followers to 50 thousand and, sometime later, I made it reach almost 100,000 fans. (Today it has close to 110 thousand followers.)

The outcome was… (I can still feel it in my bones, unfortunately) DISASTROUS.

New followers’ engagement with the page is so low that it is almost nonexistent. The connection and proximity of those persons (if those are real persons) with the page, history and mission of that fan page’s project is worst than bad.

As I already said above, it’s preferable not having “likes” than having them from fake profiles, from deleted profiles or from people who aren’t interested.

If someone removes his/her “like” from our page, that’s not always bad. If that same person does not interact with our posts it is really better that he/she stops following our page. If they don’t, they are only damaging our posts’ reach preventing those who really like us from seeing our updates.

Nowadays, the reach of what I share on that 110,000 “likes” fan page is heartbreaking. Whenever I share a link I get 10 new visits to my site, in a good day.

If I could go back in time I would never bet on Facebook ads to promote my page. For the reasons stated above and because of my personal experience.

And, I must tell you, so you can really understand.
I did targeted countries that had nothing to do with the already mentioned underdeveloped countries. That fan page is the social network presence on Facebook of a Portuguese website, always uses the Portuguese language in its posts and the targeted countries are countries where Portuguese is the official language (besides Portugal: Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, etc; there are 200+ million people in the World who speak Portuguese as their first language).

Ok, some of you might say “but some of those countries are also underdeveloped”. Well, some of them are, but there are no “click farms” operating there.

When I go and see where my “likes” come from, I see people from Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, etc. Those countries don’t know a word in Portuguese, how can they be really interested in my posts?

But don’t take my word for it.
Check Veritasium’s Derek Muller video where he explains all of this and much more about the vicious and fraudulent scheme that Facebook uses to get money from the users who are the biggest contributors contentwise on that social network.

Facebook Fraud


My conclusion is very simple.

  1. Facebook’s “Promote page” advertising service takes advantage of those “click farms” that were set up by ilegal systems and of those fake profiles to make it look to those who decided to put their money on Facebook ads that it’s paying off.
    But, not only does it not work, as it ends up damaging seriously the reach of new posts and updates. (BIG MISTAKE.)
  2. When fan pages owners realize that their posts can’t reach an acceptable percentage of its followers, they decide to go back and pay Facebook an extra amount of money so that their reach gets bigger. Thus spending even more money to fix the big mistake they did when they bet on buying legitimate “likes”.

Sure, we can go ahead and read what Facebook experts like Jon Loomer have to say on this matter.

But it all comes down to this: Jon is an expert. He is known for his advanced Facebook marketer skills. He knows it all when it comes to Facebook ads, but the common business owner (or the regular Facebook page owner), who is lead to believe that a simply and easy click of a button will get him/her potential new customers, does not.

Facebook says its ads are accessible and work for everyone when they actually only work if you’re an expert…
Mark Zuckerberg’s company has to do something about it. Or else more and more people will spend their money only to ruin their social presence and get no results.

The argument that the video relies on data from 2012 and that if we don’t know what we are doing we deserve the results we get… I’m sorry but I can’t agree with this. This still applies today and Facebook says its ads do work and that everyone can do it.

People shouldn’t be forced to know that there are “click farms” in countries that should not be targeted.

People don’t have to know they need to use Facebook’s Power Editor to get good results.

It is up to Facebook to fix this, not the average page owner.
It’s their fault, not ours.

What About You?

What’s your “Promote page” experience?
Tell me what it was like when you used Facebook ads to promote your fan page. Did it work? Did you get good results? Leave your comment below, please. I’ll be happy to read it. 🙂

To Portuguese-speaking readers:
Este artigo nasceu da versão original que publiquei há uns meses no meu blog em Português, o Redcodestudio, podem lê-lo aqui: A Fraude Em Que Se Tornou O Facebook.