Having a high number of Facebook fans is great, but it won’t help your business if some of those fans are fake. That doesn’t necessarily mean people who have Facebook profiles with pen names, people who have different accounts for family versus friends or even people who are gamers. Rather, it’s referring to people who create fake accounts for the purposes of spamming other people’s accounts.
Fake accounts – including more than one Facebook profile for a single user – are against the social media site’s terms of service. That’s because, in large part, these accounts offer low-quality content and spam Facebook users by either posting links to their own timelines or other users’ timelines. Sometimes they even tag people as a way to encourage them to click on their spammy links. For example, for some time there was a Southwest Airlines free giveaway circulating that would tag people. People thought the giveaway was real and then shared it with their own followers, increasing the spammer’s reach.
This isn’t a good thing for anyone. Individuals don’t want their feeds clogged by spam, and businesses don’t want fake followers who aren’t engaging with their page in a meaningful way. What happens if you have a high Facebook fan count, but low engagement? Then those extra fans aren’t doing your company any favors. In fact, if you notice that your engagement numbers recently decreased, then chances are you’ve been either hit by the latest algorithm change or you’ve received an influx of likes from fake Facebook fans.
Facebook has the capability to figure out who is buying likes as well as tracking down some of these spammers. However, not all of these fake profiles are caught before they do damage to a business. In the meantime, you can help yourself by finding and removing these fake fans.
How to Find Fake Facebook Fans
Before you can remove these fake profiles from your likes, you have to identify them. Fortunately, this is somewhat easy to do, most of the time, because spammers tend to create their fake profiles in similar ways. For example, most fake profiles claim to be women.
Fake profiles tend to have little on their profile page, other than a profile photo that either looks too good to be true (as in, they have a cover model appearance) or something that doesn’t easily identify who they are (as in, a photo of a pet). They also don’t post regular status updates, and many post links and giveaways/contests. One other big red flag? The page was just recently created, but they’ve already joined a variety of large Facebook groups, especially link-exchange groups.
Entirely Different Demographic
Another key indicator has to do with a profile’s demographics. Let’s say you’re a boutique clothing store. If you suddenly find that your likes are coming from fans who live overseas, chances are you’re attracting fake pages. After all, you’re a local store, and those pages are from people who would never purchase your products. This is a huge red flag to Facebook, and it should be for you, too.
Photos on Facebook really are worth a thousand words. If the photos look a little too perfect – think magazine quality – then they might not be real. To check, you can use Google Images and do a reverse keyword search. Alternatively, and more effectively, use websites like TinEye to search the actual images. If the results show a plethora of results for that image, and on multiple social media sites, you’ve got a spammer.
How to Remove Fake/Spam Accounts
While fake accounts can be a hassle, there is an easy way to get rid of them. To start, use the page as your business page, rather than your personal profile, and then view your entire list of fans. Go through this list and look for questionable profile photos. You can then click into their profile and poke around to look for the red-flag indicators mentioned above. Other indicators to keep an eye out for when doing this cleanup is to see how they filled out their profile. If they’re specific with their job title, for example, and list EMR technician rather than leave it blank, chances are they’re not a spammer. In other words, the less specific the page – and the less filled out the profile – the greater the chance it’s a fake profile.
If you find a fake profile, go back to your fan list and click the gear next to the profile name. Choose remove, and you’re done.
You don’t want to constantly monitor your fan list, however. To avoid that, there are some simple steps you can take. Specifically, change your page’s settings, particularly which countries can view and like your page. You can exclude certain countries; ones particularly known for spamming are Indonesia, Bangladesh and India.
Lastly, giveaways attract spammers. To avoid that, rather than just posting the giveaway as a straight status update or link, use an app to host your contests or giveaways.
Cleaning up your list of Facebook fans can take some time, but it will stop your page from being unnecessarily penalized. As such, you’ll see your true engagement, and your social media will start working the way it’s supposed to.