I don’t really care for likes but for some strange reason, that seems to be the social media metric that everyone uses these days to calculate a ROI on advertising investment. So the more people who like you or follow you, that is suppose to translate to some kind of online credibility, even fame possibly.
Social Media Celebrity-hood
When a celebrity goes social, they have thousands if not millions of followers. Often, these so called social media accounts are professionally crafted by PR spin doctors hired by the celebrity to manage his or her online persona. These Spin doctors have only one goal, that is to gain as many followers as possible for the client as a way to measure their success. No doubt it might be a shallow way to measure your popularity but hey, it’s the age of the Internet.
Since then it has been de rigueur for online entities to follow suit and have as many followers as possible. This created a black hat business for those who just wanted to show off and in time, allowed them to profit from such vanity exercises. Today, it has become a booming business in third world countries such as India and Indonesia which sells followers for as little as US$600 for 1 million likes.
Even today, we talk about Leo Messi having 76 million followers on Facebook, which makes you wonder if any of them were bogus in the first place. Even the US State Department has bought ‘likes’ from Click Farms so why not you?
Daze of the Click Farms
The last couple of months researching this topic has yielded much clues on how they work. You heard of people doing data entry work at home and getting paid for it? Well that’s actually one of the methods. These folks with a computer and internet access will sign up with one of these social media provocateurs who in turn get them to manage hundreds if not thousands of social media profiles on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and even Instagram.
Each Click Farm may have up to a few hundred real people working for them and in these will control up to a million fake accounts.
The age of Online Celebrity Fame
Though illegal in the eyes of social media platforms, there are some benefits for would be businesses or professionals. Think for a moment about the benefits of showing a potential client your own FB or Twitter accounts with half a millions followers. Would the client accuse you of faking the numbers? Of course not. Then you throw up a low ball by showing your nearest competitor who provides a much smaller number of followers and likes on post and the client will be sold on you.
This low ball technique works. The only way you get discovered is when you stop paying the click farms to like your post and follow you and you’d see 100K followers disappear within a night.
Online fame can be bought. So let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that such marketing technique has karmic consequences. Like any scheming adulteress, your aim is not to get caught in the act and as long as you cover your tracks well, you will never be found out.
Click farming is a US$260 million Industry
Click farms are evolving fast. Today, it might only be clicks through third world countries but tomorrow, these same clicks can be performed via a VPN to show it originating from a developed country. Clicks farms are now targeting all social media platforms as they become magnets for entities seeking online fame. They cost less than what you’d pay FB or Twitter to boost your post and these folks can also be paid to like your post as well…something which FB, Twitter or Instagram can’t do.
Once you have a million likes, you are in the mile high club. Selling yourself as a professional will be so much easier this way. What’s more, click farms can also like your video post on YouTube, click on banner advertisements on your video and earn you money.
Abusing the System
Sometimes you have to ask yourself why social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter don’t do nearly as enough to wipe out the click farm business. Well, they are all part of the eco-system and Facebook knows this only too well. Wiping out these so called fake accounts is going to be difficult because they are active. Even when they can be traced to a single IP address, Facebook just cannot wipe out a chunk of their daily active user base overnight. That would cause a stock market crash. Imagine if Facebook closed down 100 million accounts overnight. You can already see Wall Street junking the stock.
Abusing the social media system will continue. There is no overnight hang over cure. They can periodically close social media accounts that are not active or are seemingly ‘spammy’ but to close an active account from a click farm is to cut one’s nose to spite the face.
Benefits of using Click Farms
This is a tricky issue but first let’s look at the issues rationally.
Building your Online Clout
The black hat technique to gain huge number of followers is still the only way outsiders measure your fame and popularity, without it, you’re dead in the water. You cannot trust FB alone to do this for you as they have gotten so massively expensive over the years that it would be so much cheaper to pay a click farm to both follow you and like your post. This gives the impression of having a genuine number of followers even though it’s only 10 guys working out of a cyber cafe in Dhaka who happen to be your 10000 followers. Having a large following has its benefits. You look more presentable when approaching brands for endorsement and if you happen to produce good content, freebies will start arriving on your doorstep. This could be the crucial step towards building your online fame and fortune.
Cheaper and more effective than Legal methods
Frankly, you could pay a thousand bucks to Facebook to have people like your page but the results are far from satisfactory. Part of the problem is that once you have a targeted a specific audience profile, FB can never promise you 10,000 likes or followers for a thousand bucks. FB, Twitter or even Instagram can never guarantee that sort of metrics even if you kept throwing money at them. This also means you can’t have the thousands of followers based on a specific amount of money spent, say US$.50 cents per Like. It is these sort of guarantee that a click farm can give you that keeps you going back to them. If you loosen the band for target audiences to like your page, then why bother going legit? It’s far cheaper to hire a Click farm to give you that amount of followers in the shortest amount of time possible than to rely on Facebook ads.
Remember your cost of investment in the two before embarking on a ROI cost evaluation. Click farming is only for building online reputation and has nothing to do with generating quality leads or business leads.
For example, you have 10,000 fake followers on your Page, and with it, you want to gain 100 real followers from a targeted locality or which maybe only 10 will translate into real customers, then you have to do the maths for this to see the cost of it all. Your real gain is based on those 10 customers and not 10,000 Click farmers that are plowing your site. If the means justifies the end then you should continue doing it. However if that doesn’t work. I think it is time you cut your losses and invest that in something else.
Wear your Facebook page like a vanity license plate. It can do wonders to your ego but you still need to milk those dollars from a paying customer. That said, no one said this was going to be cheap.