A new and perhaps more important perspective on the fake Followers and Likes issue was raised this week by Heavy Blog Is Heavy. Fake Facebook Like services appear to be liking bands similar to the ones that have purchased fake Likes and causing problems which I had not considered. For example, given that Facebook charges you to reach more of your fans based on how many fans you have, bands are encountering yet another twist on Facebook's throttling of their band page posts.
JR at Heavy Blog Is Heavy (via Buzzsonic) gathered statements from multiple bands regarding the unrequested fake Facebook follower crisis that's further undermining Facebook's usefulness for band promotion. The post includes the following video from Petey Graves of Red Seas Fire who clearly explains what's happening, Facebook's lack of response to their queries, various problems emerging due to the phenomenon and some possible solutions.
Red Seas Fire | Bands buying fake Facebook likes and how it appears to be affecting us.
Problems mentioned in the video and blog post include:
The false impression that some bands are buying Likes and fans when they're not, a bigger issue now that more people are discussing it and looking for it.
Fewer responses from fans on Facebook even as follower counts rose likely due to Facebook only showing a percentage of followers posts from band pages. Some of that percentage is now likely going to fake followers rather than real fans.
Higher costs of reaching fans on Facebook by paying Facebook due to costs being based on percentage of follower counts which are now inflated by fake followers.
The potential for promoters booking bands based on inaccurate follower counts leading to shows with disappointing audiences resulting in a bad rep for those bands in promoter and venue networks.
As noted in the post, part of the problem would be solved by Facebook sending all notices for bands one has Liked to fans who've Liked the page. Eliot Van Buskirk pointed out that many people Like things on Facebook for which they may not be true fans but wouldn't people start unliking those pages if they got all the notices?
In any case, Facebook benefits from this situation so they're not going to fix it though they are likely to continue to find automated ways to attempt to crack down on fake Likes however ineffective.
Solutions bands are exploring or considering:
Blocking access to pages from countries that seem to be the source of most fake Likes. Clearly a problematic solution for any band.
Shutting down one's Facebook page. Another problematic solution.
Encouraging fans to Like and share more posts, to add bands to interest lists and to visit the page directly on a periodic basis. That would help but requiring extra effort from fans is always a struggle.
In the above video, Graves mentions that they're thinking of starting a mailing list.
The fact they don't have one surprised me but I've been encountering more artists of late who I think do work that deserves a larger audience but don't have active mailing lists and focus their promotional efforts, including announcing shows, almost entirely on Facebook.
This situation reinforces the fact that musicians need to build their own home on the web and need to build their own mailing lists.
It's also a reminder to me that, despite the fact that such points are raised in somewhat of a repetitive manner on sites like Hypebot, a lot of musicians just aren't tuning in and just don't get it. On a positive note, that means musicians that are in the know have an extra leg up in the game.
Ultimately a shift away from Facebook needs to occur. I see more and more people both in and outside of music discussing alternatives.
Musicians might consider working with related acts to create networks, since it's tough to build one's own unless you've got a big act like Lady Gaga, or to collectively focus efforts on music services with social features.
It's a tough situation and Facebook is not going to solve it for musicians or for their fans. Good luck everybody!
[Thumbnail image: cover of Fake Vol. 3]
- Musicians' Tune-up: Establish Your Web Presence With Authority
- Instead Of Building A Fake Following On Twitter, Why Not Build A Fanbase?
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.