Social Media is So Much More Than Likes and Followers

Do you ever feel that social media could be doing more for your small business if you could just figure it out? Do you keep an eye on your competitors’ social media profiles and fear that they know what they’re doing and you don’t?

Stop for a moment and think about how social media has changed our lives in a very short span of time. Five years ago, most people didn’t know much about Facebook and Twitter, and only few businesses were using those platforms for marketing or advertising. Now, just about every website, print ad, billboard, and even some packaging (like cereal boxes) has the Facebook and Twitter badge.

In five years time, social media has become a huge marketing platform, and people really are trying anything and everything to get the most out of it. After all, it’s free—except for the time investment, of course.

Much like SEO, where people tried (and still try) to manipulate the rankings, some people are trying to manipulate social media. Instead of putting in the time and effort to think about their customers and create a social media profile that will naturally attract and engage customers, they are looking for a quick and easy way to build a social media presence. These fast and furious social media marketing tactics usually amount to nothing.

This, I find fascinating: These are actual job descriptions posted on a freelance job posting site, two of literally thousands of similar job postings:

We are looking to add roughly 500-1,000 Facebook Likes and Twitter followers to our clothing brand to increase credibility. We’d like REAL U.S. only followers.

500 Facebook or Twitter votes from genuine accounts—I need at least 500 votes for a contest with different accounts and IP addresses within 5 days.

A few questions come to mind here:

1. Does having hundreds or thousands of likes and followers alone make your business more credible?

A Facebook page that has 10,000 likes but little or no fan engagement isn’t likely to get much benefit from those 10,000 likes. When the majority of those likes are people who don’t really care about the industry or business, the likelihood of engagement is probably pretty low.

Likes and followers do lend credibility to your social media business profiles, but only when paired with fun, inspiring, interesting, motivational content that will reach those who are likely to do business with you. A Facebook page with 10,000 likes, but has a posting or two and no fan engagement, no sharing of content, no discussion going on … who cares?

2. Does having lots of social media fans and followers provide SEO value?

There’s no doubt that social media signals (i.e. activity on social media) has some bearing on search rankings, but there is still a lot of debate about the specifics. It does appear that a business’ activity on Google+ may soon become a factor in search rankings.

Google+ Local pages will be indexed, and it’s very likely that in the future, social signals tracked on Google+ Local pages will be displayed as local annotations in the search results and as featured recommendation positions within Google+ Local internal searches. But, Facebook likes? Twitter followers? I find no evidence to support the theory that more friends and followers alone equals better search rankings.

3. Are people actually selling a service to get likes and followers for their social media clients?

Are people really selling the notion that likes and followers alone pay off in some way? I’d like to hear that sales pitch. Here’s another posting from that freelance job site:

I’m looking for a backup Facebook service provider for my social media business.
These are the packages I offer: 1,000 REAL USA likes, 2,000 REAL USA likes, 3,000 REAL USA likes, 4,000 REAL USA likes, etc.

For anyone who’s been working hard on his/her Facebook page and all the while wondering, “How DO my competitors have so many likes??!” that could be the answer, and this infographic will make you feel better about Twitter. There’s a lot of tomfoolery going on behind the scenes of social media!

I’m in agreement with those who say buying friends on social media is not the path to social media success. Wow, am I going to feel stupid if it turns out that 1,000’s of Real USA Facebook Likes is the holy grail of social media marketing? If I’m wrong about this, please, someone, set me straight.

For now, I’m sticking with my opinion that people who buy and sell Facebook likes are preying on and taking advantage of businesses (mostly small businesses) that don’t know better. OK, so have at it in the comments!