You’ve seen the Facebook Fraud YouTube video, but if not, here you go:
Seems like everyone is calling you out Mr. Zuckerberg – including me. It’s time Mark gets his team ready for Facebook fraud cleanup duty. Put his programming geniuses to work, and eliminate as many fake likes on Facebook as possible. Mr. Zuckerberg obviously has a ton of work still ahead of him, but let’s not dive into those details just yet.
We have all been left with that empty feeling of being taken advantage of or simply scammed out of our hard-earned money. But does this honestly mean you and/or your business should pull out of the social media giant?
Partner Reaction to Fake Likes on Facebook
Our very own clients are sending us this video requesting to stop all Facebook like campaigns. They are fearful that Facebook marketing and advertising is a waste, and feel strongly about not doing it anymore.
It goes something like this: “Ben, you guys are fools to even suggest businesses have an authoritative presence on Facebook. What kind of inbound marketing superstars are you?”
I don’t know. Maybe we just have this very small, funny feeling…
Seriously though. Do you really want to miss out on a platform as significant as Facebook to utilize its reach for your B2C or B2B brand? I mean, based on Facebook’s quarterly earnings report for Q4 2013, they have 2.46 billion eyes (1.23 billion people) viewing Facebook every month. 62% of that are actively using the platform every day.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out as we’re screaming, “Brand awareness, remarketing and promotions, here we come!”
Broadening your reach is paramount to the influence of your brand and its continued success. The goal is always to gain likes from active users and real Facebookers, right?
Then why are we so enthralled with three Facebook advertising campaigns that find fake likes on Facebook when in fact those three campaigns are designed to find fake likes.
Ah ha! Now we’re onto something.
Back in the Day
Everyone was celebrating, throwing ticker tape parades when Facebook reach was free, and you could make an unthinkable amount of money from this social media platform. Then March 2012 rolled in, and Facebook decided to put a clamp on the free organic reach limiting our pages to just around 16% per post. This means we had to pay for the rest of that reach which is around 84% with Promoted Posts and/or Sponsored Stories.
The impact? Unimaginable:
That’s a weekly reach for the last week of February with 71,638 down to 178 around the beginning of March. Pretty significant, don’t-cha-think?
So now… everyone started buying likes. Unfortunately, some bought likes from unethical companies with magic computers selling 1,000 fake likes for $399. This isn’t exactly what Derek Muller is claiming though. He’s claiming legitimate Facebook advertising is also bringing in the clicks from these magical computers.
Dissecting the Facebook Fraud Claims
Please do not misunderstand my attempt to dissect this video as a way to call them liars or to debunk their claims. They, as does everybody, have a right to their opinion. Let’s also keep in mind, these aren’t Facebook Advertising experts either.
With well over 1.4 million views as of today, it’s obviously a hot topic. Before you go canceling your Facebook account, deleting your Facebook business page and yanking your money out of Facebook advertising, there is one important factor you must determine first. Is the data and information Derek Muller at Veritasium providing accurate for all Facebook advertising accounts?
Diving Deep with Dory
I’m going to break this down into four sections. Feel free to click the one that most interests you or (in Dory’s from Finding Nemo voice) just keep scrolling, just keep scrolling.
you know what you gotta do?
Just keep optimizing. Just keep optimizing.
Just keep optimizing, optimizing, optimizing.
What do we do?
We optimize, optimize, optimize.
Now that the song is in your head, click or just keep scrolling, just keep scrolling:
- Evaluate the video itself.
- Analyze Derek Muller’s and Rory Cellan-Jones’ claims.
- Provide my own feedback to their claims.
- A letter to Mark Zuckerberg on how they can fix it.
A high quality, professionally produced video with an intelligent speaker making this all the more believable. They obviously do an outstanding job with every topic they cover, and this isn’t the first video to hit over 1 million views. The presentation is definitely top notch, but why am I still somewhat concerned with his allegation?
Muller covers three main topics to assist him with his claims. Up first is a.) an experiment conducted by the BBC then followed by b.) Veritasium’s own Facebook page. Finally, we have c.) a fake Facebook page experiment of his own.
a. The Virtual Bagel Experiment of 2012
The video starts off by describing a 2012 experiment conducted by BBC Technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones where he and the BBC wanted to test the effectiveness of Facebook advertising. He created a Facebook page called Virtual Bagel.
Next, he chose Page Likes for what is now called “What kind of results do you want for your ads?” within Facebook, and opted to spend $10. He targeted the ads to the United States, the UK, Russia, India, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. He narrowed it down even further by selecting under 45-year-olds interested in consumer electronics and cookery. His potential targeted audience is now 112 million.
Within 24 hours he gained 1,600 likes for just $10.
Data showed the Virtual Bagel page was “hugely popular” in Egypt, Indonesia and the Philippines, and that nobody in the US or the UK had any interest. Red Flag! Red Flag!
After researching some of Virtual Bagel’s likes, Cellan-Jones found some of the “people” who had liked the page had also liked 3,000 other Facebook pages. A personal Facebook account liking 3,000 pages is a clear indicator that the account is possibly fake.
After completion of the experiment in July of 2012, Facebook promptly responded with this to say following up as early as August:
When a Page and fan connect on Facebook, we want to ensure that connection involves a real person interested in hearing from a specific Page and engaging with that brand’s content. As such, we have recently increased our automated efforts to remove Likes on Pages that may have been gained by means that violate our Terms.
Supposedly, 83,000,000 fake accounts were removed. But did they delete all of the fake likes?
b. Veritasium Facebook Page Advertising
As Mr. Muller answers:
Nope. Not even close. I know because most of the likes on my Facebook page are not genuine.
Oh really? How does Mr. Smarty Pants really know? Let’s find out.
He received a promotion from Facebook advertising for $50. He immediately saw results within just a few days as his likes tripled. He’s gone from around 2,000 likes to almost 150,000 likes as of today. After a few months, he matched his YouTube subscribers by about 70,000. He did not gain any more engagement than he did when the page was around 2,000 likes even claiming that he has less engagement now. Here’s his chart on his engagement as the blue bubbles represent each country:
Pay close attention to the countries he names in his 1% engagement metric as I’ll cover this in our Feedback section below.
c. The Virtual Cat Experiment
Derek takes this claim a step further. He decided to create a useless page called Virtual Cat. In the description of the page, he even states:
Virtual Cat is a virtual pet like none other. Here we’ll post only the worst, most annoying drivel you can imagine. Only an idiot would like this page.
This time he eliminated countries known for their click farming, and targeted the US, the UK, Canada and Australia. This should get rid of these fake likes, correct? As Derek likes to say, “Nope.”
He even threw in $15 more bringing his page to 262 page likes. He does not provide any more details other than the results from the people liking his page.
Not done yet, he promotes a post he published on a Friday afternoon where only 8 people saw it, and no one engaged it, i.e., liked, commented on or shared the post. He found most of his likes had also liked thousands of pages which is a sure sign of a fake Facebook account. Did this third claim finally put the nail in the coffin?
All three of these claims indicate all Facebook advertisers are paying for fake people to like their page. These are all serious claims since the ROI on a fake person is $0.00. Is Facebook advertising really a fraudulent way for Facebook, Inc. to gain even more ad revenue? Cheaters never win, or do they?
Interestingly enough, Facebook is second to Google as a US digital ad seller.
Thanks for sharing all of this insightful information Derek, but your first allegation is really old news. Your second allegation is a poorly targeted ad campaign. Your last one is basically saying, “Hey fake Facebookers, come like my page!”
You’re Probably Thinking Too Much
Time to ask ourselves, do the V experimental pages sound intriguing enough to “like” the pages? Are their posts engaging enough to “comment” on them? Does the community within that specific page look like a community you would want to join and “share” insight? If you answered yes to any of these, I can see why you are struggling with your Facebook advertising and engagement.
Target More Likely to Engage Countries
Targeted countries were also an issue for these pages. Some of those are known for their spammy tactics which includes the click farming. It would be wise for you and your business to be highly aware of these activities and to know which countries are internationally known for conducting such practices.
Newbs Shouldn’t be Your Ads Manager
Finally, the most important concern I had with these mad scientists as Mr. Cellan-Jones even states, “I’m a newcomer to the arcane world of online advertising metrics.” Well then guys, looks like you need to hire a social media advertising expert.
Find Experience, Get Experienced & Never Give Up!
Marketing and Advertising is advancing as they’re both becoming more technical each and every day. Ethically sound technical marketers as the ones found here at Cyberlicious, Inc. are very, very important these days. It’s time your business analyzes and optimizes your social media intelligence through the eyes of an experienced Ads manager.
Each one of those experiments could have utilized Facebook’s Advanced Advertising tools such as the Power Editor, Custom Audiences, Facebook Exchange (FBX), Conversion Tracking among other advertising tools.
Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,
I hope you are having a fantastic day rolling around in your millions, but it’s time for you to listen up. You know, we may be foolish in providing your platform with all kinds of useful data such as interests, likes, marital statuses, graduation dates, automobile purchasing intentions, birthdays and babies on the way among a limitless supply of target marketing possibilities. But, just maybe, you need to take a lesson from the other digital ad seller giant.
You could follow Google’s lead by handling fake likes the same way they handle invalid clicks in Ads. We can actually request an invalid click investigation then later receive a credit on our Ads account. It’s a win-win for both parties. Google still makes their bazillion dollars, and we are happy to get back the few dollars wasted on invalid clicks.
Facebook advertisers can easily identify our likes on our pages, the ones we bought, then send in an investigation request to your team to eliminate those fake likes, and credit our accounts. All we’re asking for is a little…
President & CEO
P.S. That’s a letter that makes you want to stand up and scream at the top of your lungs at Mark Zuckerberg. But, are you sure that’s appropriate regarding your page? As I always like to remind myself, you don’t know what you don’t know.
Invalid clicks on your Facebook ads? Report it here. They call it “Click Quality”.