In my recent stint of niche blogging, I’ve been testing out many ways to drive traffic to blogs and websites. While I think Pinterest is a massive marketplace that is neglected, other social media platforms can still drive a solid amount of traffic and can build a brand. Which leads me to what I wanted to talk about today: How “Follow For Follow” groups on Facebook actually hurt your brand instead of helping your brand and why you shouldn’t fall in their traps.

Facebook Groups Can Be Great to Get Traffic

Before I dive too deep into the “follow for follow” argument. I want to make it clear that not all facebook groups are terrible. If you are a small business or a blogger, there are plenty of groups that you can join and help boost traffic that is legitimate and will help you build a presence.

Rising Tide Facebook Group

Rising Tide Society

Take the Rising Tide Society as an example, they allow you to promote your blog/business and network with other owners. Other groups allow you to repin / like / retweet from other social media platforms. I won’t go into the details of the effectiveness of these methods (IMO Pinterest probably goes the longest way).

While that’s all fine and dandy, it’s pretty easy for new bloggers and businesses alike to fall into the trap of “social proof”. Now some aspiring bloggers or even small businesses are trying to get social proof when it comes to social media. The problem with this is that most businesses try to find a shortcut to getting ‘likes’ on their Facebook page. More often than not, Facebook is usually correlated with the strength of the brand more than Pinterest / Twitter / Snapchat (Instagram could be debatable).

The Problem With “Life For Like”

You’ll hear “follow for follow” and “like for like” frequently in this article. For the sake of simplicity, both are one and the same as it relates to liking a Facebook page.

On Facebook, people assume that if you have more followers than you’re going to have more success. One of the most popular ways businesses and blogs alike are doing to increase their fan count is to join “follow 4 follow groups” on Facebook. This means that you or someone else requests to like a Facebook page in exchange for them to reciprocate. So if you follow 100 Facebook pages, it will be reciprocated and you’ll have 100 likes on your Facebook page.

Facebook Like Example

Sure, you’ll have ‘social proof’ of 100 facebook likes, but that’s as far as you’ll get with any further engagement on your Facebook page.

Your Audience Won’t Ever Be Engaged

This means that someone liked your page simply for the reason that you would reciprocate a like back. The biggest problem regarding this method of ‘social proof’ is that Facebook has a unique algorithm that is focused on machine learning.  Simply put, it’s not about the actual quantity of likes, it’s the quality of likes that matters.

Now the whole point of the Facebook machine learning algorithm is to ensure that anyone who’s on Facebook gets to see content that interests them.

Aside from machine learning (we’ll talk about that later), getting people to like your FB page simply by asking and not them actually taking an interest in what you have to offer is a recipe for disappointing engagement. Supposed you get 1000 “fans” but 990 of them that aren’t really fans. Guess what? When you decide to post content, you’ll likely get 1 or 2 likes MAX.

It doesn’t matter how much social proof you have. If no one is going on your site, liking posts, or taking action (in most cases, it’s email signups or revenue), then spending money and time on getting “likes” is a total waste of resources.

Facebook’s Machine Learning Algorithm Can Make or Break Social Engagement on Facebook

Some of you might remember the good old days of Facebook back in 2004 or even like 2008 before Edgerank was a thing (which was then replaced by machine learning). Back then, if anyone posted an update, everyone would have been able to view it. Over time with the massive growth of Facebook, Facebook had to create a smarter algorithm to provide meaningful content compared to just a consistent news feed (aka: Twitter).

Edgerank Graphic

Check out edgerank.net for a super in-depth info on Facebook’s Algorithm back in the day.

Hence, the creation of Edgerank is made. Edgerank was the initial algorithm before transitioning to machine learning. But it did pave the way to how we all use Facebook. Generally, for most people on Facebook that they frequently browse pages or make comments or like posts will have some pages shown more frequently on their Facebook feed. That’s why you tend to see the same friends over and over again when you’re on the Facebook feed.

It’s not simply a coincidence that your friends are posting frequently. It’s Facebook’s algorithm in action that decides you’ll likely engage in your close friend’s posts compared to that friend who you added simply because you knew them in elementary school. The same could be said with Facebook pages likes.

In other words, if someone were to like your Facebook page simply because you asked for it, it’s highly likely that they won’t engage in any post and will disappear from the news feed in no time.  Who is more likely to engage an awesome facebook post? 100 Die-hard fans or 10000 people who only liked your page in hopes that their vanity metrics will equate to revenue?

Don’t Buy Page Likes (at least early on)

I don’t want to jump the gun and say that you should never buy Facebook likes. There are some benefits to creating a Facebook ad campaign with the right target market that encourages liking your Facebook page. While this is better than asking for follows/likes on a Facebook page, you run the risk of spending money on the wrong target market and you might not see the results you would like.

Instead, I’m all about promoting awesome content that is targeted. That way you’ll get more engagement (shares, comments, likes) and get people who like your page simply by the content that is produced.

I’m not opposed to doing a “Like” campaign after you have gotten traction on your facebook page or are really honed in on your primary market and can create a fluid content funnel.

You Won’t Go Viral…Ever.

Ok, maybe that is hyperbole, but I don’t think I’m far off base here. Going back to the machine learning algorithm. Most posts that have thousands of likes or millions of views come from top brands that are promoting amazing content all the time. Even then, going viral is never guaranteed, but with established fanbases (not follow for follow) increase the likelihood of having a Facebook post getting shared and engaged.

Why this is important is that if someone shares your post, then their network of friends will be engaged in your content. If they share content as well, then at that point you might have had hundreds of people view your post simply by having one fan share. These are all signals on how humans operate in regards to word of mouth branding.

Now let’s replace ‘die-hard fans’ to fans of your page that only liked your page because you asked. These people will not give two damns of your content, and even if they did, it will be highly unlikely that they are an influencer. So any Facebook shares they give out will likely have very limited exposure and won’t ever go viral.

Think of it this way, if you had a new rap album and wanted to promote it, who would you rather have to promote your album; 1) Eminem or 2) That guy who hangs out downtown and tells you to check out his demo?

If you chose the downtown guy, then you probably don’t like making revenue.