For better or worse, “Likes” have become the leading barometer of marketing success on Facebook. So businesses throughout the world invest heavily in generating as many “Likes” as they can and use a wide range of strategies to increase their numbers. For most, the focus is on consistently producing high quality content, reaching out to targeted consumer audiences, and finding innovative ways to stimulate user engagement. But many others have also been using more underhanded techniques, such as posting “Like” solicitations on Fiver.com and creating fake accounts in order to artificially inflate their Like counts.
Unfortunately, these so-called ‘fake Likes’ have become a serious problem for Facebook, which sells advertising on a pay-per-click basis and must guarantee the integrity of the marketing services it provides. So in an effort to eliminate fraudulent Likes, the social media giant recently began cracking down on fake accounts and cleansing the site of anyone they consider to be in violation of their Terms and Conditions. But while the intentions were certainly well founded, the results have caused quite a stir in the Facebook business community.
Though Facebook announced that the new initiative to eliminate fake “Likes” would only affect about 1% of the site’s total Likes, some users have reported losing likes on Facebook with quite drastic drops that they claim are unwarranted. Amongst the top most Liked Facebook Pages, Texas Holdem Poker saw the most severe losses, but these only amounted to about 0.15% of their total. Of course, users who engaged in intentional Like inflating campaigns lost thousands of illegally obtained credits.
There have also been reports of 30% losses by users who claim to personally know everyone who liked their page. Reports like these seem to indicate that the crackdown may have resulted in accounts being eliminated unfairly, but the severity of the problem has yet to be substantiated, and users are being urged to contact Facebook’s customer service if they feel they have been unjustly hurt by the purge.
As the crackdown stripped millions of users of their highly valued Likes, it ruffled more than a few feathers. For some, it revealed the underhanded techniques being used by the apparently dishonest social media consultants they paid to run their marketing campaigns. For others, the purge is being seen as an act of fraud by Facebook itself. A few cases have come to light wherein users were stripped of Likes after having used Facebook’s PPC advertising services, calling into question the legitimacy of the site’s sales practices. Users are asking (and rightfully so!) how fake users could be clicking on the site’s sponsored advertisements?
The Beginning of the End?
Yet another, far more troubling trend is also at play here. Likes can disappear for two reasons, either;
- Facebook eliminates the account, or
- The user deactivates it.
Surprisingly, a huge number of Facebook users in the US and UK have been doing just that. As ‘TheGuardian.co.uk’ recently reported, millions of Americans and Brits have abandoned Facebook in the past six months. Meanwhile, there has been a 5% drop in the average amount of time US users spend on the site each day. Could this be the beginning of the end for Facebook?
Despite Facebook’s putative decline in the US and UK, it is nonetheless gaining momentum in South America and India. With over a billion people living in India alone, a rapidly developing nation where widespread internet access is still yet to be firmly established, it seems Facebook’s overall user base is in little danger of decline.
The implications of this south-eastern shift could have an important impact on the business landscape of Zuckerberg’s brainchild. As user demographics change, some companies will inevitably find the site less and less effective as a marketing platform, while others, particularly international companies, will surely see business boom.
In any case, and despite the negative effects it may have had for certain users, businesses should see the recent ‘fake Likes’ crackdown as a positive change for their favourite social marketing site. Even those who lost many Likes, surely haven’t lost many real customers. Meanwhile, for all those using Likes as the measure of their marketing success, it seems Facebook has just made their barometer a bit more accurate.
Had you been losing likes on Facebook due to the getting rid of fake accounts? Are you one of the ones who has left Facebook recently? If so, why? Please let us know by leaving a comment below!
Image by ‘mkhmarketing’ [Source]