Buying fake views, fans, followers and traffic is a VERY BAD idea.
Now let’s take a step back and explain.
Over the last two weeks, a story broke on The Daily Dot blog claiming that Youtube had stripped over 2 BILLION views from Sony and Universal’s Youtube channels due to a breach of their user agreement….
In other words, the claim was the Sony and Universal were being stripped of 2 billion FAKE views.
As it turns out, this wasn’t really the truth. It became understood that what Youtube was really doing was transferring views from old, ‘dead’ videos from their Youtube channels, over to the active videos on the VEVO channel for each company. The two major labels actually own stake in VEVO and have been working on phasing out their old Youtube channels.
But whether or not Sony and Universal were actually stripped of 2 billion fake views or not isn’t so much the point…
The fact that fake views have become SO common in the overall conversation of digital promotion, to a point where major blogs and publications are jumping to conclusions (and almost logically so) about companies buying fake views to increase their overall presence is disturbing.
The reason so many people have made the decision to buy fake (fans, followers, views, traffic)?
- Lack of education about how to truthfully build visibility online
The common thought here is that more views or fans or followers = increased likelihood that it (a video, a profile, a website) will rank higher and be seen by more people.
This is only VERY partially correct, but mostly it’s wrong. I’ll explain more below.
- Lack of education about how the music industry works
The common thought by far too many independent musicians is that more views, fans and followers = increased likelihood to be ‘discovered’ by the industry, creating an opportunity to sign with a label.
This is wrong. Very, very wrong. Again, I’ll explain more below.
So let’s take a look at 4 reasons why buying fake anything online won’t lead to the success it is so widely thought to bring.
1. Can Cause Detrimental Damage To Overall Visibility Of Pages
As mentioned above, many artists end up buying fake because they think it will increase the likelihood that they will rank higher and be seen by more people. While it IS true that having higher numbers will weigh your content stronger in search results making it more likely to be seen, there are two ways this will even more likely have the opposite effect.
1. Follow (or view) numbers are only half the battle when it comes to the way sites will rank you in a search.
The other half comes from the ratio of engaged followers to overall followers. If you have a Facebook page with 100,000 likes (fans) but 2 people talking about the page, Facebook will still look at this page as small in terms of influence and will likely weigh it very poorly in their EdgeRank algorithm, making it far less likely that your page will ever be seen by fans in their News Feed.
What is more likely to be seen? A page with 1000 total fans and 300 people talking about it, or a page with 100,000 likes and 2 people talking about it. You better believe it’s going to be the former.
2. A page or video flagged as spam is as good as dead.
Fake followers are likely to create disharmony on your page. Quite often fake followers and views come from either fake accounts or people in remote parts of the world, but there are instances where the followers or views bought come from real people who’s accounts had been hacked and they ‘liked’ the page against their will.
In these cases, if even a single person acknowledges the fact that they themselves didn’t ‘like’ or ‘follow’ your page and decides to flag your page as spam, Facebook (or Twitter, or Youtube) will forever hold this page as damaged goods. Think of this as your credit score. Once it’s been determined that you have poor credit, it becomes near impossible to reverse the process.
2. Fake Numbers Will Damage Your Reputation, Making Any Sort of PR More Difficult
Transparency is everything when it comes to social media marketing and PR. If you are reaching out to new media makers such as bloggers and podcasters, or are even trying to get the attention of new potential fans, a big piece of the puzzle in differentiating yourself from the competition is your social media presence.
Again, having big follower or view numbers are nice, but if a blogger heads over to your Youtube channel and sees that you have 10,000 views on your latest video, but zero comments and likes, or even worse, irrelevant spam comments (a VERY common result of buying fake views), you better believe that blogger is going to move on, never to return.
The same can absolutely be said for the music industry as a whole.
A misconception is that a record label will sign you if only you had a million fans or views. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Record labels may be known to be a bit behind the curve when it comes to social media, but they are not stupid. They know fake followers and likes when they seem them, and even more so, they know that an engaged fan base (not just a big fan base) is what will lead to sales.
3. Fake Numbers Won’t Lead to Conversions That Matter
Ah the ol’ ‘ROI of social media’ discussion. Well as a matter of fact, there is a GREAT metric for anyone to use relating to their social media strategy:
The conversion of fans from ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ to mailing list subscribers.
It is the mailing list subscribers who are most likely to purchase from you, making them qualified customers on a long-term basis.
Focusing on fake numbers to boost your ego and supposed ‘visibility’ will not at all effect your conversion rate, keeping your social presence full of fluff, yet keeping your progress made towards a larger, engaged, purchase-ready fan base small. All this does is draw out how long it will take you to achieve success.
4. Destroys Your Ability To Analyze Your True Fan Base
A huge part of creating an effective social media strategy is understanding who your fan are and where they live so that you can create timely and relevant content that speaks to them directly. Analytics will not only help to see what content is being engaged with the most (helping you to plan better content) but also the demographics of how old your fans are and where they live, helping you to plan better shows or even tours.
By purchasing fake likes, followers and views, you are effectively destroying your ability to use any sort of analytics, keeping you in the dark about who your real fan are, where they live and what drives them.
No business would build a marketing strategy without understanding who their customers are, and as a musician (an entrepreneur), nor should you.
What Damage Have You Seen Done By The Purchase Of Fake?
Whether you tried to buy fake likes, followers or views yourself, or have seen other musicians succumb to this trap, we want to hear from you! Share your experiences with this in the form of a comment below.
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