How Valid Is ROI or ROE With Fake Profiles?

Recently, FastCompany wrote an article on buying Twitter followers and how a new app by called “Fakers” shows how many fake Twitter followers a particular Twitter handle has. The app categorizes your Twitter followers into three segments: Fake %, Inactive %, and Good %. Facebook also recently reported that they have 83M fake accounts or dupes in their system out of their 955 million users.

Full disclosure, @tracysestili has 0% fake, 4% inactive, and 96% good and @socialstrand has 1% fake, 5% inactive, and 94% good. 

The questions have been raised on whether or not advertising on both these platforms is worth the bang for the buck. Having advertised on Twitter, I say it is. Because someone has to be “active” to click on your link in a promoted tweet. Now, they still could be fake, but most fake accounts if you look at them, never tweet. And I seriously doubt that fake accounts are out there helping Twitter out by clicking on your promoted tweet so that Twitter can make money.

Facebook on the other hand is a bit harder to vouch for if you do a  straight up ad to get ‘Likes’, as opposed to a Sponsored Story (which I always recommend) to get engagement and ‘likes’ from people who are already fans. Chances are that a fake account is not hanging out waiting for another fake account to engage with your brand and show up in their news feed. So if you do a Sponsored story ad on Facebook I think you’ll get a better value for your money.

However, beware “digital distribution firm Limited Press alleged that, based on its own analytics software, 80% of clicks on its advertisements within Facebook had come from fake users,” says BBC news. The article further included the following:

BBC’s technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones set up a fake company called VirtualBagel to investigate allegations of fake “likes”. His investigation found that the large majority of “likes” for the fake firm originated from the Middle East and Asia.

No one is surprised by this are they? After all, it was inevitable that there would be fake accounts on social media sites. Any time you have a system where the unique identifier is “email address” and people can sign up for free email until their heart’s are content, you will have fake accounts. People want to game the system any way they can. Wouldn’t it be a novel idea to have you actually pay for your email address? That would certainly cut down on the scammers and spammers, but doubtful it would really cut down on true social media cyber crime.

So, if we can’t come up with a better way to authenticate user profiles on social media other than email address, the question comes down to, would you be willing to pay for a Facebook or Twitter profile to engage with your friends? Please take a second to click on your answer in the poll below.


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About Tracy Sestili

Tracy Sestili is CEO and Chief blogger at Social Strand Media. She is also the author of Taking Your Brand from the Bench to the Playing Field -- Social Media Fundamentals for Business.