The need for vanity metrics is the bane of our existence, right social media managers?!
(New) Clients ask us for more:
- Likes on Facebook
- Followers on Instagram
- Subscribers to YouTube
And they don’t seem to care how we do it.
We (sort of) get it! Counting ‘likes’ is an easy way to measure growth – or so it seems.
It’s not the right way to measure growth. Getting likes and followers doesn't tell us anything about our audience and doesn't give us much to work with.
Vanity metrics are just that: numbers to make us (or our clients!) feel good, vanity numbers!
‘Likes’ on a Facebook page used to mean something, but now… not so much. This is one of the reasons the new Facebook Pages experience got rid of likes, instead the audience become Facebook followers! Much more important to social media growth and marketing strategies are statistics like these:
- Video Watch Time
Oh, how we are tempted though, right? There are numerous websites available where you can buy Instagram followers and Facebook likes, YouTube subscribers and more. All promising instant delivery of such ‘goods’. All you need is a credit card to make this happen.
Sounds easy? Sounds tempting?
Don’t do it!
Let’s talk about why buying likes is a horrible idea!
1. Buying Likes Looks, Feels and Is Inauthentic
As we will give you five reasons, let’s start with the obvious one.
Buying likes is yuck! Totally yuck and inauthentic behavior. Paying for people to like or follow you on social media defeats the whole purpose of being… social, right?
Do not do it.
The bought ‘likes’ will not comment or engage with your content. Why?
More often than not those aren’t even real people. They are bots from bot farms.
Listen, the words “buy real Instagram followers” do not belong in the same sentence!
If they are ‘real’ people, they come from countries you most likely can’t find on a map, people who have nothing in common with your avatar. If you buy them, they aren’t authentic. If they aren't real people, they are fake accounts or bots. Those don't engage either.
2. Buying Likes Is Not a Sustainable Strategy for Growth
Next…OK, so you buy some likes.
Your client is happy.
Buying likes is not sustainable and not duplicatable month after month. It’s not a growth strategy.
You might be able to trick your audience into thinking you are a cool cat, a cool brand with tons of followers, but they'll soon discover that you really are not as cool as you seem.
Sustainable growth comes from sustainable growth strategies that include awesome organic content, paid campaigns, community management and more!
Oh – the Instagram algorithm. We haven’t even talked about how buying likes affects the algorithm. No Instagram marketing strategy should include buying likes, ever!
Sustainable growth does not come from buying likes.
3. Buying Likes Will Ruin Your Engagement Rate
Gaming the social media algorithm and boosting your likes and followers by buying them will 100% absolutely ruin your engagement rate for a long, long loooong time to come. Did we mention it will take a long time to recover if you use this tactic?
In our Social Media Managers Facebook Group, we frequently hear the complaints of social media managers who have taken over a new client account, only to find out a previous social media manager bought likes.
There’s not much they can one do to influence Facebook and Instagram engagement rates once likes have been bought, besides starting over with a new account, or disconnecting from these fake accounts that follow or like them.
Want engagement on Instagram posts? Need comments on Facebook? Video views on your latest YouTube hit?
Build your audience the right way, without buying likes!
4. Buying Likes Will Not Sell Products or Services
You know what’s coming next.
If buying (fake) followers and likes doesn't do anything for engagement on social media, it certainly isn’t going to do anything for sales. Your target audience will never be part of these new ‘likes’ you get from buying followers. Want to sell on Instagram? Do not buy followers!
Social media gives you leads, not sales. We are very clear on that here at Social Media Pro®.
If the goal of being on social media is to grow brand awareness to help with sales, buying likes is the last thing you should be doing.
Bots won’t buy!
Instead, create a comprehensive social media marketing strategy that includes a sales funnel to turn leads into sales, using several social media platforms to convert.
5. Buying Likes Sets The Wrong Expectations with Clients
From the perspective of a social media manager, buying likes is a great way to ruin an existing client relationship and a horrible way to start a client relationship.
It sets the expectation that you can “magically” deliver likes and followers.
It sets the expectation that your goals are vanity metrics, not real measurable results.
We as social media managers often have to educate our clients on best practices. This is one important task you have: educate your client as to why buying likes should be off the table!
(and you can use this list, and quote us, too!)
Real life tells us that you need to work hard for things, they don’t just land in your lap! This is one of these times: real work (great content and engagement) pays off. Buying likes does not.
BONUS: It’s Seen as an Unethical Business Practice
Last but not least, let’s talk about scruples.
plural noun: scruples – a feeling of doubt or hesitation with regard to the morality or propriety of a course of action.
Buying likes is not illegal.
In my opinion though, it is totally and utterly unethical.
Fact: You are lying to your current and future community about who you are, how active your community is and what you have to offer. You are not painting an accurate picture of your online presence.
It feels… yuck.
So while buying likes may serve you in the short term with an immediate goal, it’s just not a smart way to run a business long-term.
Have You Ever Bought Likes?
No need to answer this question in the comments, but think about a time you did buy (or were tempted to buy) likes.
What situation were you in that made you consider this desperate move?
Now, think about other solutions available to you to grow an online presence and community for yourself or your client.
Real strategies that involve real people, awesome content, great conversations and a sustainable plan.
If you are ever tempted again, go back to your strategy.
If you need to outsource engagement for growth: hire a freelancer!
Need more eyeballs on awesome content: runs ads.
Have to scale quickly: demand a larger budget.
Social proof comes when you are transparent, unique, open and honest. When you engage online as you would in-person. When you talk about real things with real people. When you are authentic, and show off a personality.
Social proof is not a dumb vanity numbers of likes!
I am a Certified Social Media Manager, Strategist, International Keynote Speaker, Organic Specialist and Agile marketer! Blogging is my creative outlet. Running, hiking and skiing are how I recharge. You'll recognize me on stage and online by my always present orange glasses, a nod to my Dutch heritage.