If you advertise on Facebook, there is a good chance you would have seen many likes generated from dubious and possibly fake accounts. This is not a recent problem. Facebook started carrying out deleting of fake accounts exercises since 2012 in a bid to clean up the social network. Zynga’s Texas Holdem page lost 96,000 likes in a single day; Lady Gaga lost 31,700 “fans” in the same period.

The clean up still seems to have a long way to go. In April this year, Facebook reportedly had around 170 million fake users, and possibly many more that they aren’t quite aware of yet! As of the third quarter of 2015, Facebook had 1.55 billion monthly active users. That means almost 11% of these users are fake!

Fake Facebook fans are sold by the thousands on sites that promise short delivery times, and even proclaiming that the accounts are owned by real people! Buying and selling of Facebook fans is a multi-million dollar industry. And why do these fake accounts want to like your page of posts? This is because they need to have regular activities to pose off as “real” and active, so that Facebook won’t delete off their accounts!

These fake accounts are a pain to advertisers who want to reach out and acquire likes and fans the legitimate way. It undermines the ad’s real social significance and return on investment. Some of you could have seen this video before: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVfHeWTKjag. This video investigates the ploy used by click farms, organizations that unscrupulously offer a high number of “Likes” often at ridiculous prices.

How can you avoid fake fans and likes? Here are some ways that may be able to help:

  1. Remarketing
    This tool has an attractive feature that allows advertisers to show ads to people who already visited your website or app. Users who have visited your website before would be authentic and more likely to interact with your brand. This in turn increases the click through rate of your ad.
  2. Behaviours
    Refine your audience using behaviours. For instance, advertisers can select Gmail users,it’s harder for click farms to get so many Gmail accounts. Try to select different behaviours and find the best one for you.
  3. Custom Audiences
    This allows advertisers to target sets of users with whom they have a;ready established a relationship outside of Facebook. Custom audiences can be defined by email lists or phone numbers from the advertiser’s own database. This data is then linked to Facebook’s database.
  4. Lookalike Audiences
    Lookalike audiences can target new people who might be interested in your product or brand, because of their similarity to Custom Audiences. This option is a very good way to increase the size of your target, but make sure touse the “optimize for similarity” option when creating your lookalike audience. The target pool may be smaller, but the reach will be more precise.
  5. Target Friends of Fans
    Your true fans have real friends! Why not target them? Birds of the same feather flock together right? If someone likes your page, there is a high possibility that their friends will like it too! Unless your page is already infested with fake profiles, targeting friends of fans is always a good option.
  6. Avoid Targeting Uniquely by Interests
    It is possible to target your audience by interests, reaching out to people who have expressed an interest with certain brands, topics, hobbies,etc. For instance, if you are an italian restaurant, you assume that by targeting Facebook users who have stated that they are interested in “italian food” will help you reach out to relevant people. As you may have guessed, by doing so, you’re also opening your page to fake accounts that could see and click on your ads. The Interests targeting option is more useful when you combine it with more reliable audience targets such as Friends of Fans or Custom Audience for example.

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