For this post, I did a bit of leg work online around the value of social media. Facebook is obviously the biggest social site online and a Facebook ‘like’ is a core metric for how much something is liked online.

The core stat that interested me was the cost of a fake UK like over the value of a real like:

So a Facebook Like costs about 5 times more to ‘earn’ than it’s worth. Pretty damning.

Imagine you see a brand with 1,000’s of Twitter followers, Facebook likes and Google Plus followers, on 1st appearances that would look like a popular and successful brand.

It makes sense to think like this because we’re constantly being told that more social following is good because it reflects the love of a brand.

However not every brand gets as much social love as they want, so they employ a person or agency to come in and promote ‘social’ with a general brief around ‘raise our awareness’ and ‘your metric for success is social followers’.

The usual route to winning bigger ‘social’ numbers is to start a ‘content flow’ and socialise heavily online. It’s all a lot of work and a lot of expense.

How about just buying your way into 1,000’s of Facebook likes, Twitter followers, Google plus circles? I don’t mean bribing users to follow or like you, just go to a site and buy followers…

The Cost of Likes

For research purposes I went to a number of sites selling ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ and from that I looked at which services gave the most believable results for the best price:

Facebook: You have a choice, you can buy UK likes that are apparently generated from genuine human beings (not bots). For 1,000 UK likes, it will cost you $99. There are cheaper alternatives, so if you are ok with international ‘likes’, then for $27.95 you can get 1,000 ‘slow likes’. A slow like is apparently good because they look more natural. If you have pictures on Facebook, then you can buy 1,000 picture likes for only $54.95.

Twitter: For £9.97 you can get 1,000 twitter followers and according to the site comments I’ve seen, they are very good, with real looking follower accounts. Another compelling offer was 25,000 Twitter followers for £69 but thats not all, you also get 500 Facebook fans for free! For 1000 re-Tweets it’s only $180.

Google+: 1,000 pluses will cost around $78 and if you want to be in more Google circles then it’s $98 per 1,000.

Instagram: 1,000 followers $17. Pinterest: 1,000 followers, only $35

Finally, Youtube…brands love to see their excellent videos being seen by thousands of people, so how about buying 50,000 views for only $32.49. It’s cheap and your video gets great ‘exposure’!

If you did buy these services, real users will feel like ‘someone is home’ when they see your brand and that’s good for building positive sentiment.

Should I Fake It?

Even when you ‘earn’ followers, the monetary value of a Facebook follower is very debatable. For instance, depending on how you account for the value of a Facebook like, their value apparently has a baseline average of just $0.21. This low figure makes sense, because on average only 1% of Facebook brand followers actually interact with the brands they follow.

Maybe faking it is a good idea?

There is a problem with being fake, in fact there are lots of problems with it. None of these paid for activities create any real engagement of any kind. None of these followers will ever buy anything from your brand because of course none are real. Plus your client might think you’re clever winning all this social activity, until they bother looking into the profiles of your accounts.

Conclusion: Faking it makes sense if you are prepared to lie and risk your brand’s reputation, otherwise just hold back on promising too much on Social.

Nick Garner

Nick Garner

Nick is founder of 90 Digital. Previously he was head of search at Unibet and prior to that search manager Betfair.

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