Facebook fans: Dear-bought, not a bargain.

Clients tend to look at me doe-eyed* when I tell them how important it is to build up a fanbase. “But … but … but it takes forever!” is their inevitable reply, followed by: “Isn’t there a way to speed it up?” Yes, it can be done faster. Much faster.

Over the last couple of years a new kind of service appeared on the market: brokers dealing in friends. They offer to direct Facebook users to your Facebook page, who then receive a few (tenths of?) cents for “liking” you, and then you … drum roll … have a new fan. Yay! The price for one of these “fans” is roughly 40 cents, depending on the service provider. Of course, it makes sense to buy your fans in bulk, so how about a package of 1.000 fans, or ten-thousand or more? 50,000 new Facebook fans in just a few days! Awesome, right?

Nnnn…no. Not. Really. It’s just like paying someone to be your friend – it is, of course, not a genuine friendship, not even remotely. Facebook “fans” like this (or Youtube views or Google+1 clicks) that are paid for aren’t the real thing: Having nominal friends is like having a birthday party with cardboard figures.

The truth is, of course, everyone gets the fans they deserve. Also – and maybe surprisingly – it is simple to actually earn them. Matthew Inman (aka The Oatmeal) summed it up perfectly: How to get more likes on Facebook.

* If there are deer experts among you: the curious one in the photo above is of course not a roe deer, but a stag; I didn’t have a better picture of doe eyes in my collection.