We’ve had a few people in the EBF inbox asking this lately. And it’s a fair question. How have this bunch of inadequate cockwombles managed to get such a presence on Facebook?
Well, it’s complicated so bear with us. You might want to put the kettle on, make yourself a nice cuppa in your EBF mug, grab a few Hobnobs to sustain you and get comfy. This will take a while.
Biffers post to Facebook around 250 times a week. That’s a huge amount to flood the net with. It’s something of a ‘numbers game’. The more you speculate the more you accumulate. The more posts they put out there the more likes they attract.The Biffers post a lot of emotive and fairly superficial stuff. They target visceral emotional responses rather than encourage actual, considered opinion. Posts demanding that we ‘hang paedophiles’ or ‘save Puppies’ create emotional responses and that’s what they’re relying upon.
The instruction to ‘share if you agree’ just increases their reach and enhances the numbers game they play so well. Add to this an appeal to tradition, to the things that many Brits see as quintessentially ‘us’ like respect for war heroes or Facebook likes for Prince William and you have a powerful formula. That’s what we mean by ‘click bait’.
Every like, share or comment is shown on the news feed of every person on that persons friend list. ‘So and so liked this’, ‘so and so shared this’ and so on. That’s a powerful psychological driver – it promotes the idea that Britain First is accepted by our friends and that makes us more likely to see them in a positive light too.
They publish a lot of ‘survey’ posts such as ‘should we leave the EU?’ These fake surveys invite Facebook users to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Actually Britain First couldn’t care less what the results of the survey might be – it’s the social media ‘reach’ they’re after. Every comment goes on friends’ news feeds and encourages further discussion and acceptance of Britain First as an organisation.
Britain First sponsors posts. This means they pay Facebook to promote their posts under suggested likes or interests. It means they get to news feeds potentially untapped. That’s why Britain First posts, surveys and memes appear on the Facebook feeds of people who’ve never heard of them before.
The Biffers have many feeder pages that they share all of their material with and vice versa. If you look overnight you will see BF share a lot of Knights Templar International or English and Proud posts. These posts tend to be hidden during the daytime. This taps into the USA, Australian and Canadian feeds. The more likes, shares, comments and reach, the more Facebook takes an interest and helps to keep Britain First in people’s feeds.
If you visit their website you will be greeted first with a pop up ‘survey’ question linked to the Biffers’ Facebook account.. You may be asked “Should Britain deport terrorists and hate preachers?” with the option to press either ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Remember that Britain First doesn’t care how you answer – it’s the reach they’re after.
If you respond you improve their standing with Facebook. That’s important because Facebook’s promotion algorithm is based upon existing hits and interactions. The more you have, the more exposure you get. These pop ups continue for as long as you’re on the BF site. It’s intrusive but effective. Presumably people click ‘yes’ or ‘no’ just to close the pop up but that still registers with Facebook, increases reach and enhances future exposure for Britain First.
Biffers use many ‘sock puppet’ accounts on sites across social media. We know this because sometimes the Biffer admins forget to sign in and out and end up having obvious (and ridiculous) arguments with themselves. Often when one person says something controversial, others will follow. Suddenly it becomes a place for people to ‘say what they think with agreement’. Those who disagree with the Britain First point of view are blocked from commenting so the overall impression is of a popular movement that everyone agrees with. People who can’t get anyone to agree with their neo’nazi racism (they’re in such a minority in the real world) suddenly begin to feel validated. And all without leaving the comfort of their computer chair!
Britain first pays Facebook and Facebook associated companies to boost posts, enhance reach and even buy likes. They also share likes between their many ‘feeder pages’, all of which eventually end up counting toward the main Biffer page.
That’s why they have around a million Facebook likes and counting. It’s creative accounting, cynical marketing, paid-for likes and persistently flooding the internet with click bait, sock puppet debate and overnight posts intended for our American and Australian counterparts.
But for all their apparent Facebook popularity they don’t do nearly so well when it comes to getting real boots on real ground. Most Biffer rallies struggle to muster 100 people. Actual, real world support is very limited but the combination of bought likes, clickbait shares and the rest creates a very convincing impression of popularity. No matter how big and strong they appear online though, those misleading, over-inflated stats mean nothing in the real world, except…
…If they appear bigger, stronger and more popular than they are then they will eventually gain some real world support too. Their Facebook page is essentially an echo chamber. Dissent is deleted to the extent that only one (Nazi) view remains. This misrepresents the neo-nazism of Britain First as the only ‘right point of view’.
We know that Britain First’s co-founder, Jim Dowson has a wealth of experience as a marketer, publicist and political fundraiser. Fuhrer Biffer, Paul Golding was BNP press officer until he and Dowson left the party in 2011 to found Britain First. These people have skills and, laughing stock though they are, we’d be wrong to underestimate their influence.