Stephane Allard
Co-founder & CEO at Wisemetrics - Stephane is a serial entrepreneur who has been launching internet-related companies since 2001, after a fruitful experience at IBM as web marketing manager. His latest venture was a pioneering social media agency, sold in 2006, which advised Fortune 100 companies.

Maybe you’ve heard of “Black Hat SEO”, tactics that are used to get higher search rankings in an unethical manner.

Now Social Media industry professionals have to confront “Black Hat NFO”, which aim to trick Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm in order to increase the page’s posts visibility in the news feed of the fans.

How does Black Hat News Feed Optimization work ?

As you probably know, on average, only 7 to 20/30% (and sometimes less) of your fans sees your posts, due to Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm. Edgerank is like a gatekeeper, granting access to a Facebook user’s news feed only to the most interesting posts from friends or pages.

What’s an interesting post for Edgerank ? There are three parts to it, but one of the biggest factor is engagement.

So if you want to pass the Edgerank filter, you need more interactions on your posts, especially during the first hour after they have been published.

The “White Hat” way to do that is to post quality content that encourages interactions. The “Black Hat” way consists in creating fake Facebook fan profiles and make them like/comment the posts, thus telling Edgerank : “Here’s some quality content. Show it to more people”.

Does it work ?

It seems it does. A community manager using this technique recently said that he gained 250 000 fans with no media buy.

Should you do Black Hat News Feed Optimization ?

In one word : no.

1. It’s unethical. You’re winning not because you are posting quality content but because you’re cheating.

2. It’s risky. One day or another, someone will find that some of your fans are fakes. The resulting PR crisis may damage your brand for a long time.

3. Facebook may crush you.  It’s against Facebook Terms of Services to create fake profiles. And we know for sure that Facebook doesn’t hesitate to remove pages that don’t follow their rules.

4. Its a short term strategy anyway. Facebook has access to all the profiles and all the interactions. Devising an algorithm that will identify fake profiles should be a task at hand for Facebook’s data scientists.

5. You don’t learn. As your success is fabricated it is difficult to distinguish what has worked and what didn’t.

What’s your opinion ? Are black hat NFO tactics worth the risks ?

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