Lately some respected marketing ‘gurus’ have been promoting systems that find your perfect customers on Facebook. Because they are ‘perfect’ for what you’re selling, these people convert like crazy giving you massive profits on your Facebook advertising.
All you have to do is to use this software to find people who like your competitors or their products, setup a simple advert and show it only to these very targeted people via a Facebook Custom Audience and the riches will roll in. Because the audience is so relevant, the conversion rate is incredible and the ROI is massive.
There are all sorts of ways you can use systems like this. They’re popularly used to find people with a certain name and then sell them customised T shirts from Teespring. It works. It’s even been claimed you can ‘make money in a coma’ (although I wouldn’t go that far).
What the software does is to find the Facebook UIDs (user IDs) for people who like certain pages, people, or topics. It will then export a list of these UIDs which you can import into Facebook and ask Facebook to build a Custom Audience for you and you can then advertise directly to these people who you know are interested. Like shooting fish in a barrel…
So Facebook scraping works – what’s wrong?
A very simple principle that will never let you down is if it looks too good to be true it probably is. We all know this but sometimes we let ourselves get seduced by the lure of easy money, or persuaded by
Whenever you see anything that promises you easy money, instantly be on your guard no matter who is promoting it, and let common sense and scepticism be your guides. If you can’t promise to do that, then walk away from the Internet right now…
The problem with scraping Facebook UIDs is it’s against Facebook’s Terms of Service and it can get you banned. For good. Imagine that – all your ‘likes’ gone, all your pages, groups and fans gone. If Facebook is important to your business (and if it isn’t it probably could be), you’re placing all of that at risk.
I’m not saying the systems don’t work, they do. But the risk of using them is too great.
What is the point in building up a moneymaking business using these systems, only to lose it all (and more) when you get caught?
A lot of people have been using these techniques for a long time, very successfully (and very profitably) without getting caught. But it’s like everything else, once it gets too big Facebook have to take action and that’s what they are doing now. Lots of people have been banned, and there is even talk of lawsuits.
It’s quite difficult to prove that somebody has been scraping UIDs wrongfully, but actually Facebook don’t have to prove it. They can remove your account at any time. and there’s very little you can do about it. Especially if you’re in the wrong.
So you might be lucky and get away with it but I wouldn’t recommend it.
What concerns me is people who in all innocence buy and use these systems in good faith, blissfully aware that they are doing anything wrong. Many of them probably wouldn’t do it if they knew it was wrong. However with Facebook, just like the law, ignorance is no excuse and they can get banned anyway.
How to get great results with Facebook advertising – legally
The good news is you can use very similar techniques to this legally (and for free) using Facebook Ad Targeting. Here you can target people who like certain pages or people, in much the same way as the Facebook UID scapers do. The only difference is that Facebook targeting doesn’t offer as many choices.
With the scrapers you can literally target anything that you can search for in Graph Search which is incredibly powerful. In Facebook Ad Targeting you don’t get so many options so some of the people and pages you want to target may not be available.
Tip: If Graph Search isn’t working for you, try changing your language to US English (even if you’re in the UK) — it should work then!
However you can still use Graph Search yourself to search for people’s interests and groups they belong to and you can often use this to find another way of reaching them. Maybe Ad Targeting doesn’t offer the page you are looking for but in Graph Search you might find that a lot of them like another page which is available in Ad Targeting.
Another technique you can use is Custom Audiences. Here you can ask Facebook to create an audience from your email list, or from visitors to your website. You can show your ads just to this very targeted audience and again get very good results.
But you may think, I already have my email list and my website visitors — I don’t need Facebook to reach them. What you really want is to reach more people like them. Facebook Lookalike Audiences does exactly that – it takes the people who like your page, or visit your website, or are on your email list and builds you an audience of similar people. People just like your existing customers — wow!
So there are plenty of ways to get really good results with Facebook advertising without getting banned. And they’re free (and you don’t have to be in a coma to do it)!