If you have noticed a recent decline in your overall number of Facebook Likes for your Facebook Pages, you are not alone. Millions of users throughout the world were affected by a recent crackdown, targeting so-called ‘Fake Accounts.’ For many, the purge of fraudulent accounts went unnoticed, as most individual users pay little attention to their Like count.
But the social media giant has become a popular and widely used tool for online marketing in recent years, and many businesses use their Like count as a barometer of social marketing success. So the sudden unpublicized crackdown caused quite a stir in Facebook’s business community, provoking anger, confusion, and disillusionment amongst the affected companies.
But is their outrage justified, or does the recent purge reflect an improvement in the popular social marketing platform?
Reason Why Facebook Pages Are Seeing Decline In ‘Likes’
Suspicions of Fraud
Of course, it depends on whom you ask. Facebook claims the purge affected less than 1% of all accounts, and there seems to be evidence to support this figure. Amongst the Top-30 most-Liked users, there was a noticeable decline across the board on the day Facebook implemented the changes. But even the most severely affected account on the list–Texas Hold-em Poker–only lost about .15% of its total Likes.
Meanwhile, however, other users weren’t so lucky. Some (and this, of course, was Facebook’s intention) whose marketing campaign used underhanded strategies, such as paying for Likes on Ffiver.com or creating fake accounts to artificially inflate Likes and Friends, lost massively.
But reports have also been emerging of businesses who claim to know the users whose Likes have been stripped from their accounts. In fact, some say they have lost up to 30% of their totals. If the reports are true, it means the purge may have unfairly affected thousands of users by deactivating legitimate accounts.
Yet another, far more troubling, concern has been brought to light in the wake of the fake account crackdown. As most of us already know, Facebook now sells advertising space on a pay-per-click basis. In fact, administrators justified the crackdown as a necessity for ensuring the legitimacy of Likes generated through paid advertising.
But some who use the PPC service are up in arms, saying the Likes they paid for through Facebook’s ‘legitimate’ service have been stripped away, in what amounts to fraud. How could fake users click on Facebook’s paid advertisements, they ask, unless Facebook itself was manipulating fraudulent accounts to boost revenue?
Though none of these reports have been verified, and would be difficult to prove, they are nonetheless the source of anxiety amongst many businesses using the site.
Another Possibility For Facebook Pages Seeing Decline In ‘Likes’
Apart from the fake account purge, there is also a second way Facebook Likes can disappear: users deactivating accounts. DailyMail.co.uk recently reported that 9 million Americans and 2 million Brits have quit Facebook since October of 2012. The article also explains that US users are now spending an average of 5% less time on the site each day than they were a year ago.
Needless to say, these figures are not a good sign for Facebook. But the site nonetheless continues to grow at healthy rate, as millions of new users adopt accounts in India and South America. Marketers should realize that Facebook may be headed for a major demographic shift. So if they want to keep apace with the changes, they will have to find new ways to attract Fans from the vast new markets in developing nations.
While Facebook’s recent crackdown has certainly ruffled a few feathers in the social media community, the majority see it as an overall improvement. Fake accounts are no longer unfairly inflating numbers, and Likes have become a better indication of true user engagement and customer interest.
But because matriculation is inevitable, the best way to keep your business from losing Likes, is to constantly add new ones. To that end, quality content is essential. Marketers must use the site to craft carefully targeted campaigns and conduct research on their customer base. The community, and the Likes it generates, mean little for businesses who cannot translate online success to real world profit. To do so, businesses must offer value––both in terms of the products they sell and the content they produce online.