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When Facebook’s Own Ad Systems Lead to Fraud | Social You Should Know

Jim Tobin.
By: Jim Tobin  |   February 14, 2014  |   View Comments

More proof of how bad “bought” fans are on Facebook. Google plus is lighting up the membership base, but engagement lags, and Apple’s iBeacon could change content marketing.

Facebook Likes and Fraud

At Ignite Social Media, we’ve been saying for two years that buying fans is a dramatic waste of money. It’s even a central theme of Earn It. Don’t Buy It. But a new video surfaced this week that shows just how bad your new “fans” can be. The data visualization this guy does at the 4:00 minute mark is shocking. Also worth noting is that he didn’t use a third-party service to buy likes, he used Facebook’s own platform which was prompted by Facebook’s own ads. The result? A treasure trove of useless fans. This is worth watching for at least the first 5:00 minutes.

Google+ Grows to Over 1.15B Users

New data released this week shows that Google+ has grown from 359M users at the end of 2012, to 1.15B users at the end of 2013, an impressive 2.2x growth. Active users, however, grew by only 60% in that same time frame. I’m also not clear what makes someone “active” on G+, but that’s another story. If they are truly active, those 359M active users would trump Twitter’s 232M active users. In fact, we’re seeing G+ wake up slowly for our clients. Engagement rates are inching up every month and, for the first time ever, one of our clients had G+ sharing of a program at a higher volume than Twitter sharing of that program (Facebook remained first).

If Retailers Adopt iBeacon, Content Marketing Could Change

Apple quietly turned on iBeacon in its stores in December. The technology allows little beacons in-store to broadcast messages to iPhones as people walk by. This could have profound impacts on content marketing and shopper marketing if (a) retailers begin to adopt it widely and (b) they partner with CPG brands or others to allow that content (coupons, reviews, etc.) to be broadcast. Worth learning about.

As I was finishing writing this I saw the news that Klout has apparently been purchased for $100M by Lithium. Interesting because the last fundraising round for Klout valued the service at $200M. It's even more interesting that a service that has struggled to generate revenue is apparently still worth $100M, but that’s for other people to worry about.

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2 thoughts on “When Facebook’s Own Ad Systems Lead to Fraud | Social You Should Know

  1. Robert Nava

    Hey Jim, love reading your posts. I've seen several times the video that you mentioned above about Facebook fraud. To me, it seems very poorly put together. Nothing more than great oration and video editing skills. Since Derek (the guy who made the video) is a scientist, I'd expect more of the scientific method being used to come to his conclusions.
    You see, I actually have very good results with Fb ads and have many colleagues the same. I admin a lot of pages, but only a fraction of them I have built up with Fb Like ads. Now get this, every single page I've built up with Fb ads get FAR MORE engagement than any of my other pages. I also use these pages to run traffic to ecommerce sites. And guess what; I get HUGE ROI's.
    So the question is, why did Derek get different results? There are far more logical explanations than Like farms. Most likely (from my experience) is that his ad utilized a very catchy image that would appeal to a lot of people in all countries. But his posts are made up of mostly text and video that demand you know english to enjoy it's content. So when people who love science seen his very intriguing image, they click like because they relate to the image. But since they do not know english, they will never engage with the english speaking page.
    The proper way to test this (which he didn't do) would be to post images to the page and target the unengaging countries with those posts. Or use Google translate to translate the posts and target the proper countries. If they respond, then the theory of like farms goes out the window. Now I can't say that is definitely what the issue was, but it offers a reasonable explanation that demands attention if we are to believe his results. Also, he must have noticed this slightly because the video about Fb fraud, he actually did translate for other languages to get more engagement. Why didn't he do that in his test? It obviously helped to get it to go viral.
    I did test this on a dog niche page that I admin that has a huge percentage of fans in spanish speaking countries. I noticed no engagement for certain types of posts that would nearly go viral on other pages. So I did some testing and found that language was actually the culprit, not fake likes and fraud.
    So, while the video is very well put together, his science and testing are not. In my opinion, that leaves his conclusion to be just a bunch of hot air. But hey, if everyone is afraid of Fb ads, I'll keep on getting my cheap cost per actions since there is no competition.

  2. Jonathan Payne

    Jon Loomer already took care of the fraud video -- it's largely nonsense. Obviously, if you run horribly targeted ads in countries where "Like Farms" are common, you're going to be disappointed.

    It's amazing to me that marketers are so hardcore about narrowing their focus when it comes to any other marketing channel, but they expect online/social advertising to be some magic "push a button and win" game.

    No. The reason people have little success with Facebook advertising is because they think it's as simple as setting a budget and pushing a button. It's not and people who think it is will continue to be disappointed. Some of us are doing quite well with Facebook advertising, because we took the time to read, research, experiment properly, and figure out what works instead of calling it quits when "magic" didn't happen.

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