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.