Is Facebook Advertising A Scam?

The rise of Social Media has slowly made small, medium and large businesses to adapt and unlock the power of marketing that lies within. Facebook and Twitter icons have become an essential part of any advertising campaigns whether they be on TV or online. Different social media channels have different strategies that one can make use of to implement their own marketing tactics. But do these Social Media advertising campaigns really work? Are they for real? Or are they scams? Is Facebook advertising a scam?

Let’s scratch the surface and find out. Past couple of months, I have been reading a lot of articles and theories about how one can make use of Facebook Ads, target a certain audience, set a budget and get more traffic and users to know your brand, company, products or expertise. I also tried doing the same. Apart from being a social media enthusiast am also a passionate self-learnt photographer. I happen to love going around shooting a lot of photographs, and have my own personal photography page on Facebook.

Now, as a social media lover, and a creative guy, I also wanted to promote my photography page on Facebook, not only to reach out my friends but to the so-called millions of users and have them check out my work and hopefully convert that to a Facebook page like to increase my number of fans. I started off with my friend list and sent them an invite to visit my page and like my page if they like my work. The page likes slowly started increasing and through word of mouth (which I still find the best way of advertising since it has been verified by at-least one user) it reached close to 300-400 page likes.

Now one fine day, Facebook sends me $50 credit for advertising. Which meant, I can use these free money to setup my ad, and have it making rounds on Facebook’s rich database of users. Sounds awesome? It sounded the same to me too. I setup my ad, targeting a very wide audience from all around the world. A few days later, I start seeing an exponential increase in page likes for my photography page. As a natural reaction I felt happy, thinking that my work is being appreciated and liked by many people from across different countries.

A week later, my page had grown from 400 to 1000 likes. I felt something fishy and I started keeping track of all the new users who although were not on my friend list but were still hitting the like button for my page. Eventually I started realizing that some of these user profiles were complete scams, fake users wherein they had no friends except that they had about 100-200 different pages which they had liked.

Upon further investigation, I also realized that a major chunk of the users who were liking my page belong to the same country. If I do not choose that country, the page likes would not increase for a day or two, and then after couple of days, it would again start increasing from a different country. I went down a little more into this, and found out that if you target a very small audience by selecting a few parameters, your page would hardly get any views or likes.

While all this was happening, my page likes were increasing tremendously, and since I had set my budget to no more than $1 a day, it used up that amount every day and got scam and fake users to like my page. Ultimately I ran out of the $50 credit one day, and I disabled the advertisement. At that point of time my page had close to 3500 page likes albeit majority of them fake users, scam users with no friends on their profile, with profile pictures of celebrities and what not.

The funny part came after I disabled my advertisement. Out of a sudden my page likes started decreasing on its own, which meant users had started “disliking” my page. That nearly tipped me off and I again enabled my advertisement to see if it was a coincidence. And it went through the same cycle as above, got me to close to 3700 page likes, and once I disabled, the count went down.

Since this was a personal first hands-on experience with Facebook advertisement I somehow felt the urge to pen it down and see what the experts out there think about this. So what do you feel? Is Facebook ads a scam? Is it really helping businesses out there to build a community of “true” “legit” followers? I would like to hear your views and experiences in the comments section below.

  • Derek

    I just recently made an ad for my page tied to my youtube channel, my channel is about video games, and after my ad started I got 19 likes in one day, I felt this was weird considering my videos on youtube had not increased in view, and no one likes a page unless they view the content, I could only view two of the new 19 peoples profiles as well, and their profiles seemed empty and shady and like they had been made by someone working for facebook to make it seem like they would be someone to like my page, it was a total waste of money, my page now has 28 likes from today but my youtube channel didn’t benefit in any way at all.

  • E-MUTE

    Right. I’ve been having my doubts about Facebook advertising. I am a musician. At some point I started advertising for Facebook likes. I started getting lots of likes as well but a big portion of the likes where coming from countries that are not famous for having a great alternative rock audience; And when I started checking the profiles the ”fans” did not seem to be very alternative rock… Anyways. Recently I did an experiment. I decided to run a few Facebook ads again to give it another go. This time I advertised a little promo video for my band, Our Spotify URL and our Soundcloud URL. Soundcloud have their own analytics. This is where things become very interesting. My Soundcloud analytics show 42 visits from Facebook, where Facebook analytics show 332 clicks to the website…. Check the screenshots. 3rd list from Soundcloud’s analytics, Facebook’s visits are on no. 5 How does that work then?!

  • Natalie Remington

    Let’s start a class action suit. NOW. I am totally on board

    • thewisdompearls

      I am not sure if Facebook updated their model. Need to try it out to see how it goes.

  • Alan Fox

    Total bullshit. Facebook Ads are a total scam. Amazing how a company the size of FB gets away with this. They have to show their investors income so they rip us off. We are small businesses just trying to make a living and the nerve of FB to take advantage of us.

    Of course they will deny it. They have bullshit algorithms with bullshit likes.. I’m getting likes from some where down South and I am in Boston. I am a local company only broadcasting within my area. FB says the ads will only be within my area. WTF. I am pissed and will pursue with my state Attorney General. They should not get away with this ripoff scam. They are as bad as any hacker stealing credit cards. If you would like to enjoin me I am

    I recommend that you save by copying the pages that list these phony likes and a few of their FB pages. I’m sure once FB finds out people are going to start inquiring they will somehow delete the pages and the likes.

    • thewisdompearls

      As much as I think it’s frustrating, we also might want to understand the logic of the algorithm behind such cases. I am not sure if it was just me or there are plenty of others who faced this issue.

  • Bethany

    You can also set your limit to $5/ day which I did and only wanted to do for a few days, but the problem is, once you meet the threshold, they automatically put you up to the next threshold, mine started at $25/month, then I got an e-mail (surprise) that they had just so happen to change their policy and all this stuff about the price went up and once you meet the 25 it automatically goes to 50 then 100 and so on. It is awful. I now have to fill out information with my bank, they refunded the money temporarily, but Facebook has this all figured out, there is no way to contact them, no way to stop payment, and no way to change payment unless you give them another way to take money from you. And there’s really nothing in writing stating the policy, so Im not even sure how this will all play out.

    • thewisdompearls

      I agree that Facebook should be very crisp and crystal in explaining the advertising model. It would help to gain some insight into why and how this set of events occur.

  • Bethany

    Complete Scam. I reported them as fraud to my bank. They re-started an advertisement I stopped and took out all my money. Then they had the nerve to make a pop-up this evening on my account telling me they received the claim my bank made and next time to contact them directly, except, there is NO WAY to contact them directly, and I had already followed the steps on their helpdesk to put in a claim with NO RESPONSE. It is a complete scam. there is also No way to delete your payment information unless you provide them with a new one. Simply disgusting

  • Tony

    Yup, it’s a scam. I target a certain audience and my likes come back from totally unrelated audience. All of the likes are from Facebook fake profile and bots. It’s a total waste using facebook ads

    • thewisdompearls

      Not sure if this has now been addressed by Facebook? I am sure they might be aware of this situation. Will have to try it again to see how it goes.

  • rocken

    interesting!!! out of interest you mentioned that the likes seemed to be coming from a particular country. which country was this? i have also just started fb ads and within 2 days i feel that what you have outlined is very similar to what i have experienced within the 2 days.

    • thewisdompearls

      I have lost track of them now. I will have to go back and restart the ad campaign and see if this issue still lingers.

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  • Consumr.Info

    Thanks for the article. We’re starting up as well and I looked into Facebook ads a bit but didn’t feel the need to spend the money. I’m glad I didn’t. I think in the beginning, the more followers and likes you get, the better. But you do eventually want to weed out the scams and fake users. I don’t think Facebook ads is something I would at all be interested in anymore. It seems like a plot just to get your money. I think if the likes stayed on your page it wouldn’t be too much of a loss (although I wouldn’t want 3500 fake likes, but some are acceptable), but since you lose all of the likes once you stop spending money… I don’t know, it’s not something that sounds reasonable. You’re essentially just paying a ton of money to advertise to fake users. I don’t feel like it gets you any real exposure at all, and the cost definitely adds up.

    Thanks again for the info. I’m definitely going to retweet it!

    • thewisdompearls

      Thanks for sharing. I hope there are others who would be enlightened.