Recently, more than a few people have taken up the position that it’s a bad idea to “buy friends” on Facebook. And by “buy friends,” we mean to advertise to get people to “Like” your business page. Sure, it sounds icky, and seems to fly in the face of everything social media stands for: engagement, interaction, dialogue, etc.
Some reasons cited for not buying friends include:
- Companies that help you buy friends are all spammy
- Having fans that don’t interact can hurt your Edgerank
- It’s better to earn fans than buy them
- People you buy will never be as engaged with your page as people who find you organically
Are there companies out there who are “doing it wrong,” by buying friends? Sure. Are there some less-than-credible companies who are providing less-than-reliable Facebook advertising services? You bet!
Does that mean it’s a completely worthless medium? Absolutely not. In fact, when wielded properly, buying ads on Facebook can give a page a much-needed boost faster and more efficiently than simply growing connections with people organically.
Take, for example, American Estate Jewelry (full disclosure: AEJ is a former Evolve client). When we started working with this company, they had about 35 fans. Through a highly targeted campaign, we proudly boosted this to just over 1,000 in about two months for a relatively low investment. Today, well after the advertising campaigns ended, the fan page has more than 1,300 fans–the last 250 or so being won organically.
More importantly, engagement during the campaigns grew very rapidly, and keeps growing. We went from virtually no interaction, to several likes and comments per post every day (on average). This is clearly a case of advertising driving the initial introduction, with engagement produced through–you guessed it–relevant content.
The point here is that engagement levels change over time, which also means that Edgerank (Facebook’s method for determining what makes it to users’ individual walls), shifts over time. Like Google search engine results pages, Edgerank is not static! In terms of “buying friends,” having individual fans who are not closely connected to your brand might result in fewer Facebook feed impressions in the short run. But in the long run, as the business provides more relevant content on a more frequent basis, the more likely it is that those “bought” fans will see it.
For example, check out Nutella (not a client, but still one of our favorites!). Nutella has more than 11 million fans. In terms of engagement, though, roughly 2,000 – 10,000 individuals respond to any given post (likes and comments). Even if 20,000 people engage, that’s still only .18 percent of the total fanbase.
In case you couldn’t tell, we’re big believers in social media advertising. Why? Well, as Erik Qualman put it, “In the future we will no longer search for products and services; rather they will find us via social media.” There is no other medium currently available that allows marketers to target individuals the way Facebook does.
Our job as marketers is to help the products and services we represent find the right customers. The future of advertising, in many ways, is Facebook. As marketers, we need to be objective about our recommendations–but also recognize opportunities (for ourselves and our clients) to experiment a little.
We also need to recognize that buying fans (or any form of advertising for that matter) isn’t the be-all end-all of Facebook marketing. Instead, we should look at it as a small push down what could be a very steep hill.
Photo credit: Yes!Online