Peter VanRysdam / Marketing / August 31st, 2010

Paying for Facebook Fans? That's Not Very Social.

I get it…businesses want more fans. Each fan is an opportunity to not only reach a person on their terms, but also an opportunity to have your message shared to that person’s network. That is what we in the industry call a positive return on investment.

But just as I’ve argued in the past against software to boost your twitter followers and programs to auto-tweet for you, I “don’t like” buying fans.

I came across this blog post today, Pay Per Fan: What Big Brands Are Paying For Facebook Fans. According to the article, this is a normal cost structure for hiring a company to acquire new fans for you: 30,000 fans for $1.50 cost per fan
60,000 fans for $1.25 cost per fan
$20,000 per month to acquire 10,000 fans per month ($2.00 CPF)
4500 fans for $9,000 ($2.00 CPF) That’s outrageous. When you compare it to email lists, the prices aren’t absurd, but there is a difference. Not that I’m an advocate of SPAM or that I have ever supported direct mail, but at least with those things you can be fairly confident you’re reaching a target demographic. I can’t imagine how a company can guarantee 10,000 new fans a month that all fall within your brand’s target market, unless you sell toilet paper. I mean, everybody needs that, right? What do you think? Is this a fair practice? Should I lay off? Does this tactic trivialize those of us building actual a strong, engaged fan base? Tell us your thoughts!

  • brian

    There is no reliability with payed for facebook fans. If you take the time to do the work find a standard interest or subject you would be surprised what good work will do for you. If you want impressions and just numbers , then go for it. Do the work it will pay off in the end.

  • vkodass

    I agree with you but from my personal experience, it bought 4000 Facebook fans from and they added them to my page in a little over 1 month. All the fans appeared to be real and some of them turned out to be great customers.
    You should use to buy Facebook fans… we purchased 10,000 Facebook fans and we’re quite satisfied with the results. It’s completely legal because the fans are real and they don’t join your page until they check it and find it interestings. keeps sending suggestions to become a fan until the order is fulfilled.

  • PeterV – CMO

    That makes sense, but what about all the people emailed that don’t say yes? It is like telemarketing in that you may get a sale but you also frustrate a bunch of people along the way. Unsolicited messages, especially on social networks, reflect poorly on your brand IMHO.

  • Bach2Bach

    You make some good points Peter, but I think you’re discounting the psychological benefit of adding lots of fans. If you go to somebody’s page and see they have 10 fans, it might look like they’re not a popular business. By buying thousands of Facebook fans at sites like you might just get a multiplier sort of effect that gets you even more fans faster. That is my guess.

  • PeterV – CMO

    I certainly agree with that logic, but to me it still just sounds dishonest. How is that different from paying users to review a product on Amazon? That also makes something look more reliable. People would never accept that. The only reason they do on Facebook is because no money is liking something doesn’t cost you money (though businesses certainly see the value), and most people don’t realize these pay-per-fan things even exist. Remeber back in the old days when people would launch a new website with the hit counter starting at 100,000 to make the site seem more legit? I hope most people can see through that.

  • Erin – Marketing

    To some extent, wouldn’t any sort of promotion you’d run on Facebook be considered (albeit loosely) paying for Facebook fans? If you run Facebook Ads about your page, you’re certainly paying to get your brand in front of targeted people with the hopes that when they see you, they’ll like you. If you run any sort of giveaway, contest, or promotion, where you’d be rewarding your fans with something, even if it isn’t money, you’d still in some sense be paying to get people to like you. So where’s the line drawn? It’s OK to offer something to your 1,000th fan, but it’s not OK to pay a company to find fans for you?

  • PeterV – CMO

    It’s all commercial, and even your time to solicit new fans is a cost, so yes, that’s true. However I think there is a big difference between offering the user and incentive (monetary prize, great compelling content, etc) versus spamming thousands of people in hopes that a fraction will click like. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that is what vkodass did.