At Social News Daily we have repeatedly warned our readers never to buy fake followers. But what happens when Facebook is the one peddling those fake or useless accounts? That is the claim being made by prominent Australian TV presenter Derek Muller. The TV personality recently posted a YouTube video, in which he presents his findings from a three year ad buy.
According to Muller, the more he purchased page likes to advertise his educational science channel Veritasium, the less engagement he received by way of click-through rates and comments.
What Muller discovered was that of his 80,000 likes, most arrived by way of India, Philippines, Pakistan, Indonesia, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Yet those massive follow numbers accounted for less than 1% of his overall engagement numbers. In the YouTube video Muller warns, “These are the profiles that followed me when I used Facebook advertising and they are worse than useless.”
If you have ever used a Facebook “Likes” service you are probably aware of the horrid traffic they send to your account. Reputable social marketing sites will charge $.20 or more per targeted user, while fake users can be purchased for just pennies on the dollar from less reputable Facebook advertising platforms.
Facebook was forced to remove 83 million fake accounts in 2012, only sharing those numbers during the company’s disclosure to the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC).
So did killing off 83 million accounts fix the problem? Derek Muller thinks not, noting, “If Facebook were serious about cracking down on fraud, shutting these pages down would be a good place to start. I have no idea if this will affect Facebook’s stock at all. I have told friends and family that I don’t think the company is a good investment because of my experience with it. I think as more people become aware of the limitations of its advertising business fewer will be keen to invest.”
We have decided to test Muller’s theory and are currently running a Facebook ad buy on one of our non-SND properties. Hopefully we will have good news to report for unsuspecting buyers.
Update: A Facebook representative tells Social News Daily:
“Fake likes don¹t help us. For the last two years, we have focused on proving that our ads drive business results and we have even updated our ads to focus more on driving business objectives. Those kinds of real-world results would not be possible with fake likes. In addition, we are continually improving the systems we have to monitor and remove fake likes from the system.
It should be noted that the page used for the test is from May 2012 and Facebook has significantly improved the social networks ad systems over the past two years. As expected social networks have become more aware of potential page and link baiting issues and have adjusted their systems accordingly.
We also feel the need to spotlight the fact that Muller never explains the type of content he targeted. For example, you can target a very cheap term and receive low engagement if the category chosen is too broad. At Social News Daily we always suggest hyper-targeting your audience for best results. Try building a page about “Cats” for example and you will receive likes but your engagement is likely to remain low.
Have you noticed a decrease in Facebook page engagement after buying Page Likes directly from the Facebook Ads platform?