domingo, 16 de febrero de 2014

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Is the Facebook Like Dead for Marketers?


Derek Muller longs for the days when his Facebook page had only a few thousand likes.

"The other day I was just Googling, 'How do I delete these likes?'" he said to Mashable in an interview. "There's no tool to do that."

Muller is the man behind Veritasium, a YouTube channel dedicated to producing informative videos on science. He has a strong following on the video site with more than 1.1 million subscribers (his second channel has more than 150,000).

He also has a reasonably popular Facebook page with 131,000 likes. Those likes have turned out to be a barrier between him and his fans, and he explains why in a video uploaded to his YouTube page entitled "Facebook Fraud."

What Muller alleges is a quirk of the Facebook ecosystem that has emerged as a byproduct of how the newsfeed has evolved to display content. In short, phony Facebook likes have become all too common even among pages seeking legitimate followers. Facebook is complicit in allowing bogus accounts to run up like totals because they act as a buffer between pages and their actual fans.

As a result, Muller saw his engagement percentage plummet as his page built more likes. His posts were appearing on the News Feeds of phony accounts that had liked his page that never interacted with his page or any other. Since Facebook's algorithm is built to reward posts that have strong engagement, the phony likes were making his posts look bad.

The notion that Facebook has phony accounts or that likes can easily be bought is not a new one. A 2012 BBC investigation highlighted how fake likes permeated the site, and that the issue posed real questions for the value of Facebook advertisements.

Facebook marketing has improved, according to Jeff Selig, CMO of social media marketing firm BostonMediaDomain, but the like button in particular is almost useless. Marketing on Facebook is now about curating a following as opposed to just building numbers.

"We gave up on [likes] ages ago," Selig said. "If you take likes out of the equation and you are actually selling something, I think you're better off. I think the days of the popularity contest are over."

Facebook recently admitted in a regulatory filing that as much as 11.2% of its accounts are fake, but did not publish any numbers about how many likes may be fraudulent.

Muller noted that while Facebook has cracked down on fake profiles at times, there seemed to be a permissive attitude toward so-called "click farm" pages. He pointed to "Paid-to-Like" as a company that operated with a page on Facebook and posted photos of receipts paid out to people for likes.

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