By now, you have most likely seen the viral video simply titled “Facebook Fraud”. If you haven’t, please take a moment to watch:
While the video is of high production value, well laid out and has clearly gone viral, I must say that I disagree with his findings.
This is not to say that he was wrong. Based on the data used in the video, he did in fact waste money garnering “useless” or “fake” likes. The argument presented also holds merit; Facebook has in fact limited the reach of images/text and video posted by brand pages. I think this problem is less about Facebook policy and more about marketing strategy.
A few points that I would like to address
- Purchasing bulk likes
- “Vanity” likes
- “Promote Page” and “Boost Post” buttons
In case I lose you before the end, a few key points that I would like you to take away from all of this: Pay attention to your target audience, provide content that they will enjoy and stop marketing like it’s 2011.
Purchasing Bulk Likes
This is something that I would hope by now we have all shied away from. If you’re considering this, please stop. When Facebook marketing became popular, we all saw one metric: FANS, FANS FANS (which later became likes). It didn’t matter who became your fan, it didn’t matter where they were from or what they were interested in, we only cared about one thing: GET MORE FANS! This lead to the dreaded “click/like” farms that are mentioned in the video. Sites all over the web offer thousands of likes for $50 and sometimes cheaper. These likes do nothing for your page, they aren’t real and they can even cause your all important page reach to drop. More about that in the Facebook engagement section.
You don’t think your customers are dumb… do you? Does anybody really believe that your brand is wildly popular in a country where you don’t conduct business? Does anybody really think your local bike shop has 45,000 likes? This is one of the least important metrics on Facebook and as marketers we need to stop placing so much focus on just likes. You should approach page growth as you would any other sort of lead generation. That is, after all, why we’re marketing on Facebook, remember? If you aren’t trying to grow your page with interested users, why would you expect them to engage with your brand? This leads me to my next point:
Gone are the days when users care about how many likes you have. Users want to learn more about your business, about your industry knowledge and reviews from their peers. If you are a new business, nobody will mind that you haven’t built up a following of thousands of likes. If you provide good, engaging content, likes will come. It’s important to build your page naturally; it should grow from your actual customer base.
In the Facebook Fraud, the presenter created a useless cat page and continued to target all cat lovers in the United States, Canada, Australia (of note, if Veritasium had done his research he’d know Australia has notoriously low cost per click/like and has become a target for like-baiting) and the UK. The result? Lots likes in a short time but no engagement. This doesn’t expose a flaw in Facebook’s ad platform, simply a flaw in marketing strategy. If your entire goal is to get new likes, that’s exactly what you’ll get. Just don’t expect them to convert on the back end.
“Promote Page” and “Boost Post” Buttons
We do a ton of Facebook advertising every day both for clients and in house. Two things we will never do is click these buttons:
These buttons offer very limited targeting and bid options. I highly recommend everyone who participates in Facebook advertising to take the time to learn about Facebook’s Power Editor. The problems presented in the video arise from a lack of marketing segmentation and consumer sentiments. Our goal is to get our page in front of interested users with hopes of eventually converting them into leads and customers. If proper targeting and analysis isn’t taken into account, likes from “cat lovers” will continue to flow. I spent some time describing the use of Facebook Graph Search for consumer analysis and ad targeting in a previous post.
How Can I Successfully Advertise My Facebook Page?
Facebook advertising, similar to all marketing, takes effort. Take some time learning about your target customer. Learn about what they like, learn about who they are and create content relevant to their interests. You’d be amazed with the amount of engagement that comes as a result. If your page is aimed at cat lovers as is the example in the video, learn more about cat lovers. Post informative content about caring for cats, share new products for cat owners, provide value. The Virtual Cat page reference in the video was purposefully created as a sarcastic collection of “useless information”, it’s not surprising that there was little to no engagement.
Spend some time learning about market segmentation and persona analysis. Michael King wrote an incredible (yet long) article about creating consumer personas. If you’re willing to spend the time learning about your customers they will respond by engaging with your content.
In the end, if you’re not willing to put in the effort, why should Facebook users? Social media is not about short term success. It’s a way to build brand equity and build a base of engaged, loyal customers who will eventually become your brand ambassadors. Give them what they deserve.