For businesses seeking exposure, paying for Facebook ads has become a popular option. The site has 1.2 billion users, after all, making it an ideal outlet for ad placement. But through a complicated turn of events, some business owners are finding that their ad campaigns are backfiring on them, prompting them to caution other advertisers.
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Advertisers have been drawn in by Facebook’s offering of a “Suggested Post” or “Suggested Page” ad at an affordable rate. These ads are aimed specifically at earning likes for advertised pages, earning businesses an increased audience for their posts.
At face value, it’s an advertising strategy that should work. In fact, many businesses have achieved additional likes from the exposure. Once someone has liked a business’s fan page, that person sees updates on newsfeeds, which could also prompt that person to share those posts with their own Facebook friends. It’s one of the primary methods for gaining an audience on Facebook.
According to an article in Business Insider, several Facebook page owners have complained that their ads have brought chaos to their pages. These businesses claim many of the likes are coming from “click farms”—a practice where low-paid workers are tasked with conducting a series of tasks in order to boost traffic to a site.
Because these business owners are paying for legitimate traffic from customers who are genuinely interested in their products or services, these fake likes are bothersome. With so many useless followers, the complaining businesses feel that they can no longer use the site to market effectively.
The next logical question is, “Why?” Why would these click farms pay people to click like on Facebook pages? As Business Insider recently explained, likes help legitimize a profile, giving it perceived interests as though it’s attached to a real individual.
Facebook is aware of the problem and has, in fact, made efforts to pinpoint and delete fake accounts from its site. The company estimates that a mere 0.4% to 1.2% of all accounts are responsible for creating fake likes. But when one percent of your user base exists to click the like button seven thousand times a day, this can pose a serious problem.
One request from the complaining businesses is that Facebook equip page owners with the ability to delete fake accounts in bulk. Currently, these advertisers are forced to individually remove each fake account. Once hundreds of thousands of fake likes pile up, businesses are faced with an almost insurmountable obstacle.
To help avoid the problem, Business insider recommends removing areas of the world it defines as “problem countries” from an ad’s reach. Those countries include Mexico, Portugal, India, Philippines, and Brazil, among others. Many click farms pay wages well below American minimum wage, so businesses should ensuring their ads are seen only in those areas where workers wouldn’t spend all day clicking the like button for a couple of dollars.
A Facebook Problem
While currently, the problem belongs to advertisers, Facebook has more to worry about than a few very vocal complaints. These fake profiles stand to disrupt the company’s ad revenue, which was up 63 percent last quarter. The company acknowledged to Business Insider that fake likes are a problem and said that both automated and manual systems are being put in place to crack down on the problem.
It’s important to note that Facebook’s advertising program has many satisfied customers, with these complaints currently serving as isolated incidents. Until the problem dissipates, businesses could do well to focus their campaigns on North America, Europe, and other countries not normally found to have click farms and closely monitor their campaigns to make sure followers are legitimate Facebook pages.
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