In case you were wondering why the number of likes on your Facebook business page plummeted dramatically last Wednesday night, you are not alone. No, a large mass of fans and supporters haven’t jumped ship. Have no fear.
Somewhere on CNN’s homepage Thursday, read an ever-important breaking news story entitled, “Facebook cracking down on fake ‘Likes.’” The story boasted nearly 600 real Likes a few hours after the story was published.
Facebook began removing fake accounts and fake “Likes” along with a number of improvements the social networking site announced last month.
Your page might be legal, but all illicit accounts that Liked your page got the ax. Those accounts included “illegitimately created accounts,” and “Likes gained from malware, compromised accounts, or deceived users,” according to TechCrunch, which fittingly dubbed the move “Operation Unlike.”
Facebook said that less than one percent of Likes on a page would be removed provided the page abided by Facebook’s terms and conditions and hadn’t been buying fake Likes from spammer sites.
Getting the boot
According to Page Data, Zynga’s Texas HoldEm Poker experienced the most dramatic decline: it lost a whopping 198,344 followers by late Thursday afternoon. CityVille came in second with a loss of 72,631 fans. Lady Gaga was down 65,505 fans; Rihanna (-49.861); and Shakira (-48,359) rounded out the top five of those hit the hardest.
By Thursday, Facebook obliterated tens of thousands of fake accounts.
Courtesy of PageData
Earlier this summer, several media outlets reported that more than 83 million of Facebook’s 955 million active users were fake, with more than 50 percent duplicate accounts and 1.5 percent accounts created by spammers.
Likes are just a number
In July, the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones conducted an experiment to test the effectiveness of paid advertising on Facebook by creating a fictional business called VirtualBagel. First of all, who doesn’t like bagels, particularly virtual bagels delivered via the internet to a vast world of virtual eaters?
“Join us in this low calorie vision of a future where all food is made up of 0s and 1s,” reads VirtualBagels Facebook page.
The imaginary bagel company targeted ads specifically to those mostly in the United States and United Kingdom markets, and before long, 1,600 Facebookers had an affinity for VirtualBagel (despite the fact it was a bogus business and really didn’t offer any products).
Needless to say, Cellan-Jones’ $50 worth of paid advertising on Facebook brought some interesting results and signaled a substantial dilemma with Facebook paid ads. Businesses that paid for advertising may have acquired immediate results, but the results—as shown by VirtualBagel—could have been skewed. Facebook initially was quick to respond that this was not an issue—how swiftly that has changed.
The page turned out to be most popular in Cairo, with 75 percent of Likes coming from 13-17 year olds, including one Facebook user named “Ahmed Ronaldo,” whose profile imitated that of world-renowned soccer player Christiano Ronaldo.
As of early last Friday, VirtualBagel had 3,463 Likes.
They like us, so why don’t you?
Businesses pay Facebook for ads and clicks, and Facebook pockets the money. According to ComScore, Facebook marketing indeed leads to sales. ComScore said that users who saw unpaid marketing on Facebook Starbucks, made a purchase at the coffee chain within four weeks more often than those who didn’t.
Furthermore, users who saw paid advertisements from an unidentified U.S. retailer made purchases on its online website as much as 56 percent more frequently.
But what about the thousands of dubious Likes VirtualBagel garnered in a short amount of time? Do you think businesses are getting what they paid for?
According to PageModo, 60 percent of marketers measure their Facebook success on the Likes and friends an account has, compared to the 39 percent who quantify success by the number of shares and the level of fan engagement. Still, it’s clear Likes are very much prized by brands.
Can Likes be a distraction? Focusing on Likes can prevent businesses from reaching their end goals. Likes aren’t directly making businesses money, but rather the reason why fans are Liking brands. Rather than focusing on Likes, followers and friends, focus on engagement—and continuous engagement. This should weigh far greater on any marketer’s list of priorities.
Courtesy of Mashable
Olivia Roat wrote about this not too long ago: engagement trumps Likes. Ten loyal and engrossed fans are much more valuable than 5,000 fake followers. Buying Likes to acquire fake fans gives an impression that your brand is popular, but what it also does is skew results from paid advertising.
Facebook never permitted the purchase or sale of Fake Likes, but black-market vendors flooded the internet and thus flooded pages with thousands of phony fans. Rest assured Facebook has done the right thing in eliminating all illegitimate accounts, which is a huge advantage for businesses.