This is a followup to my previous article Facebook Ads: Are the fans real? that was published on February 28, 2012. That article had garnered a lot of empathetic shout-outs from many digital and social media marketers who readily accepted that they were facing the same dilemma but could not accept the fact that a giant like ‘Facebook’ may be indulging in activities of this nature.
Recently though, some companies & agencies had a reality check, and a ‘Facepalm’ moment. BBC, the British news organization decided to probe the matter. They, along with other research fora, had similar findings. For your immediate reference, BBC Report, Limited Pressing & Life Science Companies.
Thus, one can deduce that it’s not a dilemma unique to India,and is being faced across the globe.
How does one explain ‘fake fans’? In my article- Facebook Ads: Are the fans real?, I had mentioned three possible:
a) The fans coming from the ads are fake.
b) Facebook might be paying users to ‘Like’ Pages via these ads.
c) The fans are infact genuine and we are just fooled by randomness.
Given the facts & findings, it might be easy to conclude that Facebook is actually involved in malicious activities. However, that would be far from the truth and unjustified as well.
We all are well aware that Facebook’s main revenue comes from Ads, then why would it dig it own grave by tarnishing its image?
Over the past few months, I dug deep & tried to understand this behavior of Facebook fans. Liking 3000 -5000 pages is definitely not normal for any user. So these users were definitely fake. This gave rise to more questions:
a) Who are these fake fans?
b) Why are they clicking on my Facebook Ads?
Facebook had themselves revealed that 8.7% of the estimated 955 million users are fake accounts. This would mean that Facebook has about 83 million fake accounts.
There are companies that promise their clients miracle results overnight, in terms of increasing ‘Likes’ & fan following. Such companies are successful because brands are always on a wild goose chase trying to increase their ‘Likes’ and establish superiority on Social Media.
Let’s see how these ‘miracle companies’ work-
1.) These companies work like Call Centres, Sweat Shops, Work from Home, Part time jobs etc.
2.)They get people to create multiple fake profiles
3.) They are asked to ‘Like’ the pages of the company’s clients
Care is taken to make sure that all these ‘likers’ do not have a similar profile. Otherwise Facebook anti-fraud mechanism will catch such activities. This is done by asking the users to ‘like’ random pages on Facebook, by clicking on Ads. Thus, the operators make those user accounts look more legitimate with a diverse set of interests. This helps to fool Facebook’s anti-fraud mechanisms.
4.) Lastly these fake profiles are also updated with keywords & parameters, which brands use while creating a Target profile for their Ad Campaigns, so that such fake users are intimated when the relevant ads are posted.
So instead of Ads reaching genuine fans, they are viewed by fake users. While Facebook still earns their revenue through ‘clicks’. This is where I feel Facebook is guilty, because they maybe ignore these practices for their own profit
What’s the road ahead for us?
While we wait for Facebook to take some action on this matter, we need to figure out an alternate way of escaping the fake fans while running Facebook Ads.
Featured image courtesy: birgerking