Worldwide, Facebook has more than 2.3 billion users. The Silicon Valley social media platform has used its number of users to lure advertisers to its pages. However, it wasn’t until recently that it came to light that a staggering number of its users include fake Facebook accounts, which were set up by spammers and scanners to break the rules or mislead people. What these fraudulent accounts have done is tarnish the social media platform’s reputation, busted merchants’ social media campaigns, and eroded the trust of many users and customers.
Background on Fake Facebook Accounts
Last year, Facebook disclosed the number of fake accounts it took down each quarter on its transparency page. According to its page, Facebook removed more than 2.8 billion fake accounts during a 12-month period that ended in September. Prior to this, Facebook reported that no more than 4 percent of its active users were fake. That is a big jump from the 25 percent to 35 percent of fake accounts it took down in the most recent reporting.
What This Means for Businesses
In the light of the many fake accounts, merchants that use Facebook to engage with customers and garner new ones likely need to start rethinking their strategies, their followers, and the money they spend advertising on the site. Without making some changes, they are at risk for losing all they worked to gain.
Fake Accounts Hurt Businesses
Fake accounts or followers hurt businesses that are trying to engage with their customers and it negatively impacts the user experience. As this continues over time, more people will distrust the information they are fed online and on platforms.
This can be especially harmful to small businesses or newcomers who managed to gain a healthy following. People may look at a business with tens of thousands of followers and assume it was manufactured in some way.
Ways to Prevent Fake Accounts from Impacting Business
So, as more information comes about fake Facebook accounts and other counterfeit accounts on other platforms, there are things you can do as a merchant to save your social media marketing campaign. Steps to take:
- Don’t Buy Followers: If you have 100,000 followers, but you get only a few dozen likes or shares a day, your customer base will know something is up. Using bots are an easy way to increase your number of followers, but in the end, they do more harm than good.
- Make Engagement a Priority: Every merchant wants record-breaking number of followers, but that figure does not prove your success. What will help you keep and gain customers is how you interact and engage with them. If you provide valuable content on social media, they will engage with you. What they provide will give you instant referrals and offer insight to other products and services they may be interested in the future.
- Make Followers Feel Special: Show customers the perks of following your feed. Offer them special promotions, host a contest, or spotlight them in a certain way. Do your best to show your audience that you are there for them.
The Last Word on the Issue
Facebook and other social media platforms are valuable tools for businesses. They can promote businesses’ products and services, share company culture and its charitable work, offer giveaways, and reach customers at more personal levels. All of that changes when fake accounts are added to the mix. It creates distrust, confusion, and can ruin a brand. As Facebook continues to address counterfeit accounts, it is imperative that merchants pay attention, do their parts to address any concerns, and not fall into the trap of bots and bought followers.
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