Insights from FacebookOver the course of a few weeks in September, we gained hundreds of new Likes on our business page through our various ad campaigns. One campaign in particular gave us 291 new Likes in just one week. At face value, our numbers were looking really solid: a CTR of 0.265% and Cost per Fan of $0.39. These aren’t mind-blowing numbers, but they’re nothing to be sneezed at either. So, we were all very much surprised with the results. Had we just stumbled upon the Easy Button for marketing? Are corporations spending millions on marketing when all they need to do is dump a few hundred dollars into Facebook? It doesn’t seem likely and we’re not quite that naive, so we started looking for better answers.
Digging for the truthThe first place we looked was at the profiles of the people who had Liked our page. At a glance, they seemed like normal Facebook users with profile pictures, information about their old schools and current jobs, etc. But we quickly noticed a trend amongst these profiles. Many of them had Liked a very large number of fan pages – some had Liked an outrageous and totally unreasonable number of pages with the highest coming in at over 20,000. We knew something fishy was going on, so we started collecting data. From a random sample of 100 Likes which we received while running our ad campaigns, 66 had public information on their profile. We noted how many pages they had Liked (we’ll call this Total Likes) and then came back a week later to see how many pages for which they’d clicked Like over the course of seven days (we’ll call this Likes per Week). The results were laughable. On average, the people that interacted with our page during our ad campaigns were already following 4,491 other businesses. And over the course of a week, they Liked an average of 147 new businesses. These are definitely people who aren’t going to be interacting with a brand in any meaningful way. It looks like we just wasted a few hundred bucks to boost some vanity metrics.
BTW, If you’re interested in learning about which metrics you should be paying attention to in social media, check out Parts 1, 2 and 3 of our series on how to measure social media success.I already mentioned that the highest Total Likes we found was 20,000. There’s no way that person is even able to view posts from a faction of those pages. On top of that, the highest Likes per Week we found was 813 – that’s 116 new Likes per day! Ain’t nobody got time for that! Like any good data analyst, I wanted a set of control data against which to compare these numbers. So I ran the same test with a random sampling of my personal friends and got a Total Likes average of 96 and a Likes per Week average of just 0.8. So, yeah…that’s somewhat ridiculous… There’s one caveat I feel obligated to make here. The majority of my friends used in the control group are in their mid to late twenties, so they don’t necessarily represent the average Facebook user. As Facebook was created while we were in college, we view its purpose somewhat differently than would say, a 40-something business owner looking to do some networking. That being said, I can’t imagine that the average Total Likes for a typical user is more than a few hundred or that the average Likes per Week is more than 10 or so. So the profiles that Liked us during our ad campaign are wildly outside the norm.