This page offers a few suggestions for managing group memberships and Facebook followers.
Friends, Members, Likes
On Facebook, there are different terms for people making connections. A person-to-person connection is a friend. Someone joining a group is a member. People connecting to pages are likes. Managing all of these connections requires a similar level of attentiveness. Weeding out fake users is important for everyone.
More Isn’t Better
It’s assumed that more followers on Facebook is better. While that’s generally true, you want to make sure your followers are legitimate and appropriate. Otherwise, you’ll be annoyed by spammers posting advertising and trolls phishing or causing strife. For this reason, advertising of a page to get more likes should be done sparingly and in a very targeted way. For example, if you’re advertising your page, you can pick what interest group you’d like to reach.
Identifying Genuine People
Here are some suggestions for determining the authenticity of users:
- Online Research. Users who have their privacy settings high make it difficult to determine whether they are legitimate or not since their profile can only be viewed by friends. Even if you can see their user account, some Facebook user accounts that are setup by advertisers to look like real users can be quite elaborate and appear legitimate. Most real people have more than just a Facebook page. If a user is legitimate, they likely have a presence on Twitter, or LinkedIn, or perhaps their name comes up in some other online context. Do a Google search to learn more about that person. Sometimes a fake user account will appear on other systems with the same name. You can examine their posts elsewhere to determine if they are legitimate.
- Friends Aren’t Enough. When looking at a user account, keep in mind that fake users have fake friends. There are literally armies of drone user accounts that are controlled for commercial purposes. When people are willing to pay for more likes, these fake user accounts can be commanded to like certain people or pages. Try to determine how legitimate a user’s friends seem to be.
- Post Quality. Poor quality fake user accounts will have very few posts and they may be outdated. There is often an attempt to make fake user accounts appear more realistic by having typos in posts and descriptions.
- Communicate. You can always attempt to communicate with the person through messaging. When people ask to be friends or join a group, ask them some questions about why. “How do we know each other?” is a good question to ask. Fake users will try to expand their contacts by connecting to friends of friends.
- Your Connections. If someone wants to friend you, and you have 50 friends in common, then it’s probably legitimate. If you only have 1 friend in common, it might be a scam.
There are no set rules to this, and some legitimate requests can seem fake, so one must accumulate a bulk of knowledge to make a determination.
There is helpful system used by Yahoo Groups that allows a moderator to request a short sentence from people wishing to join. One can fairly easily identify which are the legitimate requests and which ones are not legitimate.
Membership Approval Speed Bump
Groups that require some membership approval may grow slower. The membership approval is like a speed bump. As simple as it may be to request approval for membership, some people won’t take that small bit of effort to join. So, an open group might grow faster in membership. Yet, when you build a group slowly over time, it is generally of higher quality.
A method of promotion that has been recently been increasing are fake Twitter followers. A fictitious user account on Twitter will be setup to promote something. Then, that user account will start following other Twitter user news feeds. Presumably when you are notified that someone is following your feed, you’ll be curious to learn more about them. You’ll click on their profile, and perhaps be persuaded to click on a link within their profile or learn about the product, service, or “opportunity” they are promoting. This method is used on many other social networks. As mentioned above, more isn’t always better. It’s best whenever possible to remove and report any non-legitimate user of Twitter or any other service.
Consider a Website
If you’re wanting to build a community online, it’s a good idea to have a website as a centralized hub for your group. You can post longer articles on a website. You can also have more elaborate and customized forms for people who want to signup or participate.