How to Determine if a Facebook Business Page has Fake Fans

2013 03 09 23 31 08 How to Determine if a Facebook Business Page has Fake Fans Many of us have recently thought social media and business leaders were finally starting to “get” the importance of real relationships with human beings. However, unfortunately there seems to be a new wave of cheaters, influence score addicted self proclaimed “gurus” that are willing to risk their reputation, integrity, ethics, trust, clients and relationships for a few hundred or tens of thousands fake Facebook fans.

The worst part is these are the same people who are tweeting and preaching the importance of authenticity, relationships, and how to build and be a human social brand.

A few of them are even trusted by some of the world’s most respected brands. It is the definition of failure and a sign of true insecurity in my humble opinion. More of my thoughts on this topic will come in a separate post as this one is specifically written to help you identify if a Facebook page is loaded with real fans or is being gamed by an influence, short fix craving cheater.

It’s pretty easy to check if a Twitter account has fake follwers. You can go to Status People Fake Follower checker and get instant statistics on any Twitter account, including yours. Below is a quick screen capture of the results from Status People for a Twitter account. The account is that of a CEO for popular Twitter measurement tool. On the company website they tout the success of their CEO in building community and that he/she has over 100k Twitter followers. Well, according to Status People, they are fake as fake can get. This lost instant credibility for me and is likely not a tool I will recommend nor take into the accounts and business of our clients. Quite unfortunate.

Note: If you have a large Twitter following, Status people only analyzes a portion of them. The statistics are not perfect.

fake status checker How to Determine if a Facebook Business Page has Fake Fans

 

So how do you determine if a Facebook page has fake fans? While not quite as simple, you can still put multiple data elements together to make a pretty good judgement call on the authenticity of their proclaimed community.

In late 2012, Facebook started to crack down on Fake fans and accounts. Many business pages lost a good portion of their fans if in fact they were fake. Facebook claimed that 8.7% of accounts were at that time fake or undesirable.

Too good to be true? Yes, it sure is! 

Have you ever looked at a Facebook page of someone who recently launched a blog or business? You check out their Facebook page and find that they have tens of thousands of fans in just a short time.

At first you may think to yourself, wow, this person must really know how to rock social media and build community.

However, as you dig deeper and do the double click you see that the engagement is nonexistent, even if they have thousands of fans. You click on some of the “likes” they have received on recent posts and it’s obvious they are from a country foreign to them. It’s also obvious the likes are from fake accounts.

The social trust factor you had when first clicking on their page is pretty much out the door. You do the double click around their page, blog stats and realize they are bogus, cheaters, and buying their fans, period.

The chance that you are going to trust them to help your business is now becoming slim to none. If they’re willing to cheat at something as simple as a Facebook fan, what else will they game for themselves or a buck to make from you and your business?

These cheaters think they can game the system. They hope that you will not do the double click on what’s behind the black curtain. They hope you will just see the high number of Facebook fans and that you will have instant trust for them. They hope that you will now opt in to their email list and comment on their posts.  If they are really successful at fooling you, you might even share the content or their page with your friends and colleagues.

Building a community takes time and investment. Purchasing fake fans is cheating, unethical and wrong. Oh and by the way, it’s also in direct violation with Facebook terms and conditions.

The best and only way to see real success in social business and life is by investing in people. By this I am referring to real people, real relationships with human beings, not robots!  I am not referring to fake accounts, fake followers or gamed strategies.

photodune 1170480 fake xs How to Determine if a Facebook Business Page has Fake Fans A lie has speed, but truth has endurance. ~Edgar J. Mohn 

3 Ways to Identify if a Facebook Page has Fake Fans

1. Verify source city / location and age of their fans.  With this step you are checking if it is possible their Facebook likes are coming from a foreign country for which they have purchased fans. This can be done via paid services through agencies who offer such.

a. Click on the number of likes on the page via the big box underneath the Facebook page cover photo. You may need to click the arrow to show the box if they have ordered the number of likes to be shown lower in the list.

facebook like click How to Determine if a Facebook Business Page has Fake Fans

b. Assess the results.

Next you will then see a page which highlights the following information:

  • Most popular week.
  • Most popular city.
  • Most popular age group.

Is the popular city their city or a city they do business in? Or is it a far away country? Do they do business in that country? Do they have a large following in that country? Or is it a foreign country which they do not do business in, do not have a valid following from and likely purchased fans?

What is the most popular age of the fans? Are they 18-24 yr olds? Are they 35-44 years of age or older? Or a different age category? Does the age match their target demographic? Does it make sense this age group would be so engaged with their content and services?

facebook pam insights How to Determine if a Facebook Business Page has Fake Fans

2. How many people are talking about them on Facebook? If they have 35,000 fans/likes but only 50 are talking about them, well you have a red flag. Are they posting content daily? If yes, either a.) they suck at engaging their fans or b.) their fans are not real so they can’t engage.

Below I posted a couple examples from Facebook pages. The first is from my own personal business page. The second is from a page that could potentially  have fake likes. Note that my page with only 25% of the fans of the other page has more people talking about it. A proof point that it is not about having a large number of fans if they are fake or not engaging with you and your content.

facebook talking How to Determine if a Facebook Business Page has Fake Fans

 

facebook talking1 How to Determine if a Facebook Business Page has Fake Fans

 

3. Who is “liking” their daily posts and content. 

This one is super easy to check. Just do a quick scan of the content they are posting. How many likes are they getting? Is there an equal distribution of likes? Or are there tons of likes on one day and zero engagement on other posts. Yes, it could be the posts were more engaging or they just rocked Facebook edge rank that day. However, you should be able to see any trends as you scroll the page.

Click on the number of likes link under any post that seems to have a substantial number of likes. It will then take you to a page where you can see the profiles of the likes. Click on a few of them. Are they real accounts? Or are they fake? Do they appear to be from a same foreign country for which their most popular city is in the Facebook insights? If yes, you have another red flag and they may be paying for those likes.

4. When Did Their Fans Become Fans? 

On most pages you can see the monthly activity within the timeline. Did they jump from 1,000 fans to 20,000 fans in one month? If yes, they may have had a very successful campaign, became an overnight success online and offline. This is all possible. However, if the data analysis above shows red flags and they show an unrealistic jump in the first few months of launching a page or in any given single month, the chances they are fakers just increased.

The Whole is Greater Than The Pieces

You can’t really assess if an account has fake fans from only one data element. It’s important to give people and brands the benefit of the doubt. Look at several data elements. If all four of the above data elements don’t look right you may have a faker on your hands. It’s up to you what you want to do from this point and if you trust them with your customers, data and business success.

Be Human! 

Remember relationships happen between real people, between two human beings. Real communities are made up of real people, not robots. Robots do not read, engage, get inspired, laugh, contribute or own a credit card. Building a brand, business or community based upon fake numbers is unethical and in the long run will get you no where.

Invest in real content that helps your audience, employees, customers, partners and greater community solve problems.  Inspire them to do better, be better. Focus on their goals and objectives.  You can never go wrong by investing in people, period. Investment in robots will get you quick gains that are fake. They will not help build your business for the long term.

What You Say? 

What are your thoughts when you come across a business page who has fake followers? What happens to the trust you had for the organization? Do you think it shows a sign of integrity, good ethics? Would you trust the business? What if you trusted them and really liked them before finding this out? Will it make you think differently of them?

I’ll be writing up a few more posts on this topic to get to the heart of the matter, digging into why people decide to cheat when in reality it’s buying them nothing but robots.

Please comment below and let’s help make a difference in the social ecosystem. Let’s encourage people to come clean on this behavior, to stop faking it and trying to fake us out. We should ask, expect and demand more. It is a silent elephant in the room that needs to be pushed out, period.

 

Talk Human to Me Series

iStock 000003993658XSmall How to Determine if a Facebook Business Page has Fake Fans This blog post is part of a series titled “Talk Human to Me“. It includes a deep look at brand humanization and the power of the human brand.

Subscribe to the series for updates and access to special videos, webinar training, worksheets and more. Would love to hear your input and have you participate in discussions and debates as we challenge each other to be more human from the inside out within our lives and business.

Additional Resources: 

 

About the Author

Pam Moore

*Forbes Top 10 Social Media Women, Forbes top 50 Social Media Power Influencer - CEO / founder of Marketing Nutz, full service social brand, digital marketing agency. Social media marketing speaker, author, strategist, consultant, coach, & trainer. I help businesses of all size integrate social media into the DNA of their business, connect with target audiences to nurture authentic customer relationships. 15+ years experience working with Fortune 500, Franchised corporations with 4000+ local franchises to entrepreneurs and startups!

  • http://www.agencyplatform.com/ Dave Thompson

    Great Post, Pam!
    Facebook itself has admitted that a major chunk of their users is fake. Fake users just add numbers to the page, they are of no use other than that. Fake users never engage with the brand page, and engagement is what social media is all about. All I can say is one can get fake users for numbers if that is all what one wants.

    • http://www.pammarketingnut.com PamMktgNut

      Very true @Dave Thompson. It is sad but obvious that some of the folks and brands doing such are purely interested in numbers and/or are insecure about starting out with a low number. It’s stupid in my opinion and their communities will think much higher of them if they are humble and build their following in an ethical way.

      • Guest

        I’m confused. If you promote a page or post (which isn’t itself unethical), you often end up with fake followers, which is unethical? What if I don’t want any of these fake followers? How do I get rid of them? My page has lots of followers that are real, but I got stuck with fake followers too due to a poorly executed promotion. I never intended to get fake followers and certainly didn’t want to pay for any of them. Now I don’t know how to get rid of them. Facebook doesn’t make it easy to control these things. Meanwhile, other people will think I’m unethical because of this difficulty?

  • Teri

    If I have never bought a fan, how can the twitter fake finder say I have 3% fake fans?

    • http://www.pammarketingnut.com PamMktgNut

      Could be various reasons. I wouldn’t stress about it too much. 3% isn’t bad. It could be you have robots following you from tweeting key words such as iphone, apple, android etc. There are many companies who setup fake robot style accounts and follow people. They hope you will follow them, click on their links etc.

      A good way to get rid of them sometimes is to unfollow all dead accounts you are following. It is called Twitter pruning where you clean up your Twitter friends. Often times when you unfollow the fake accounts that somehow got into your follow stream they will automatically unfollow you.

      Hope this helps.

  • http://twitter.com/MarthaGiffen Martha Giffen

    I think the “talking about” is such a key to what’s going on with the page. I have never really taken the time to investigate by clicking on the “likes” tab because I feel like the “talking about” tells the story. As far as Twitter fakers, I check my own account periodically. Many times, the checkers shows fakers on my account (certainly not a high level) and I go in and unfollow anybody who hasn’t engaged. That cleans them out. For me, those are just bots. Anyway, nice post!

    • http://www.pammarketingnut.com PamMktgNut

      Agree @twitter-13768662:disqus . The “talking about” metric is a real-time metric and gauge to how engaging the content, brand and page are.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Healthy.Family.Org Caryn Talty

    Our Facebook page has recently gotten a couple of fans that were fake. I always click on new likes to learn more about fans and interact with them. We don’t solicit for likes or fans. We’ve never paid to get them. I think sometimes spammers seek out pages to plant links/ads to products and engage with legitimate fans. It’s happened to us on more than one occasion. When I visit the person’s Facebook page I can clearly see that they opened it in the last two weeks and have no friends. So sometimes this happens to legitimate pages who don’t buy fans, but on a much smaller scale.

    • http://www.pammarketingnut.com PamMktgNut

      Very true @facebook-100000119736354:disqus and we have seen the same thing. It is close to impossible to avoid. However, there is a big difference between a few fakes vs 20k fakes that were purchased. ;)

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/?tab=wX#109016704019682085950/about/ Gavin Hudson

    I completely agree about being human and iterating to find content that your audience likes best. However, it’s not cheating to advertise your Facebook business page to people in the target demographic of your company.

    • http://www.pammarketingnut.com PamMktgNut

      Agree @gavinhudson:disqus . This article is not referring to advertising but to purchasing fake followers.

  • http://generationbsquared.com/ Linda Bernstein

    Hi Pam. I don’t like Status People’s algorithm. Every time you do it, you get a different number. They go into your followers at random and look at 200 and get their numbers from there. There are other, better ways to see if a person/page has been buying followers.

    • http://dannybrown.me/ Danny Brown

      in fairness, they measure up to 1,000 followers, dependent on account:

      http://fakers.statuspeople.com/Fakers/FindOutMore/

      They admit that for accounts with more than 50,000 followers, it should just be used as a reference point.

      Either way, I think they do a decent job of showing the potential fake usage for the majority of Twitter users.

      • http://www.pammarketingnut.com PamMktgNut

        Yes I agree @dannybrown:disqus . It’s identifying “potential” fakes.

    • http://www.pammarketingnut.com PamMktgNut

      Yes I agree @wordwhacker:disqus . It’s only one data element in many. However, you can get a good feel with a few tests. If you get the results I showed above after a few searches it’s at minimum worth a double click ;) A quick visual look you can see tons of eggs & obvious bot style accounts following.

      • http://generationbsquared.com/ Linda Bernstein

        Yes, you and @dannybrown:disqus are correct that if someone comes up with a lot of fakers, that’s a sign of trouble. It used to be easier to check someone out because Twitter Counter was free, so you could look for the strange spikes of 10,000 new followers in a single day. Now Twitter Counter allows you to see only 3 months of someone’s account for free.

        What I don’t like about this tool is that you never get the same number twice. So it’s not “proof,” but it is an indicator, as you have said.

        I think that you did a great job, @PamMktgNut:disqus, explaining how to identify the fakers on FB pages. Really, targeting teenage boys . . . what a giveaway.

        But, you know, we all know who the fakers are. You can tell by the way they self promote, the way they say it’s about “their community,” when it’s really all about them.

  • http://twitter.com/GaryHyman Gary Hyman

    First of all great post Pam. I personally believe karma will take care of the fakers. I don’t have an emotion either way. If they want to play the cheat game they will be found out sooner or later (probably sooner) and will get bitten in the but. Most fakers I don’t trust, but some just don’t understand the ‘rules’ and just need a little coaching. Very subjective thing in this case though.

    • http://www.pammarketingnut.com PamMktgNut

      True @twitter-224701457:disqus . There is a big difference between the ppl that know better & those that don’t. It seems the Facebook ads are bringing some unwanted fake looking accounts to some pages though. However, many need to take more time when setting up Facebook ads to ensure they are targeting appropriately. At least some of the issue can be avoided.

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  • http://dannybrown.me/ Danny Brown

    Ha, this is such a great topic, Pam. The amount of fakes in social media never fails to astound me – especially when they’re the very folks talking about transparency and engagement, as you say.

    I wrote a post the other day about Reach being a BS metric, and used the example of a Twitter power user.

    In the image attached to my comment), I used Status People to check the stats of this user, who has over 217,000 followers.

    I think the results speak for themselves. ;-)

    We can but hope that these fakes are a glitch in the system as social media matures, and the real work can get done by the rest.

    • http://www.pammarketingnut.com PamMktgNut

      So true @dannybrown:disqus . I love your words “glitch in the system”. It is true and I think over time the cheaters will have to quit cheating as they can no longer cheat in private. Eventually (and i think it is very soon) it will catch up to them.

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  • Robert Roche

    The sites that sell the fake likes also put fake likes on legit pages. A few months ago I got over 100 new likes in one day. On a good day I get 1 or 2. Turns out that they were all from Egypt. I own a gym in NY. Cairo Egypt was the number 2 most popular city only behind the city my gym is in. Since most of these new likes were named Mohammed – first or last name – it was pretty easy to delete most of them. A little research revealed that the fake like people put likes on legit sites to make it harder for Facebook to find them out.

    • Kate Hutchinson

      I’ve had that experience. I’ll get a message after a few likes are added, letting me know that they have Liked my page and if I want to spend $X, I can get X more.

  • http://twitter.com/Chymera_ Chymera

    My facebook page has seen a massive increase in likes in the last 3 days. They are obviously fake profiles, I’ve clicked into a bunch of them and they all have similar posts and patterns of likes. Thing is, I have never and never would purchase likes.. so why is my page being targeted? It has happened to two of my colleagues as well. What is the possible benefit of this for the fake profiles?

  • http://www.facebook.com/peggy.goodwin.92 Peggy Goodwin

    My daughter has a fan page on Facebook. Within the last couple weeks and mostly the last few days her likes have gone up to 27,000 and still going up (she previously had about 800). We would never buy fans and are very puzzled by this. Reading your article it mentions the number of people talking about it. With 27,000 new likes she has 13,478 people talking about it. She is getting comments and likes within her page (and private messages) BUT they are all practically from Indonesia, Brazil, the Middle East, South America etc. They are also in her age demographic (13-17). Her video views have gone up because I check that on youtube. She also has a Youtube account (with over 1 million legitimate views over the years). It seems legit on one hand but suspicious on the other because of the different countries. Can you shed some light on this? This is very strange.

  • http://www.ikf.co.in/digitalmarketing/seo-services.html SEO Services India

    I was pretty much amazed to check when one of my friends fan page were having hundreds of likes but when i crossed checked the profiles they were deleted or missing. Why there is no action taken on such steps. There should be some sort of verification needs to include while clicking like for any fan page. http://bit.ly/10013h2

  • Tracy & Tom Hazzard

    Thanks for the info. We have been struggling with a Kickstarter campaign that is not getting enough circulation. Others have been suggesting buying more Facebook fans to boost visibility. If they’re not real, it will be a waste of money!

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  • http://www.searchiton.com/ Williamsearch

    Very nice post. It is very interesting and knowledgefull post. Good work author.

  • http://www.youthallies.com/ MK

    The problem with this is that it is very easy to get stuck with tons of fake followers (particularly if you don’t initially know how to run an effective promotion and if you make a few mistakes as a newbie). And Facebook’s current policies make it practically impossible to remove fake followers or ban them. Indeed, Facebook only lets you view a limited number of your fans. I have lots of real fans, but also a bunch of fake fans that I’d like to dump. But there is no way to even identify them, much less a way to remove them. And now I’m accused of cheating and being unethical too? Ack!

  • Kate Hutchinson

    Very interesting post. I came to my current role with a page that had about 250K likes, most of which had been acquired by ad spending. At the time, I questioned whether those likes were worth having, and was told it was “just a number to look good on paper.” Since August, fans have been dropping like flies–a recent post I found here http://www.portent.com/social-media/facebook-suspicious-account-removal.html–posits that Facebook may be doing another purge of suspicious accounts, as they did in late 2012. I have a loyal core of fans that engage with my page, but I fear that fake accounts are impacting the visibility of my posts, and hampering my ability to encourage new people to Like my page.

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