Facebook Follies

Yesterday I posted this picture from KMPH FOX 26 on Facebook. It must have resonated with a few folks, because as of this morning, it already has over 23,000 Facebook views and shares! The reason it is so popular? People are frustrated with the way Facebook keeps changing their parameters of how we can post and view our own pages. My favorite is #6: “Let me see every post from pages I like. If they post too much, I’ll hide them myself.” Too often, I find myself searching through my friends’ profiles because Facebook has determined their posts are something I don’t want to see-but if I didn’t want to see them, I wouldn’t have them in my friends’ list, correct? WKMP Fox 26 A few days ago I was directed to a web video about Facebook by my son, who happens to work in marketing. His company had thought that the information in the video was important enough to share with his marketing team, and he deemed it important enough to share with me. We all know the frustrations of Facebook: they keep changing the game, especially for the small business owner who is just trying to gain exposure through social media. Previously, if I posted something on my Country Design Home timeline, it would be shared with my followers-all my followers. But then Facebook started selling “BOOST YOUR POST” advertising, where you could garner “likes” with a small investment ($5 and up), and they stopped sharing my posts for free. My paid posts would be shared with my friends, and their friends, and their friends-a pyramid scheme of sorts-the more you spent, the more exposure you received. My unpaid post would sit there and perhaps be shared with a mere fraction of my total followers, unless they shared it. So, I tried the Boost Your Post a couple of times at $5 each. The first time was fairly successful with a couple of hundred new “likes”, the second time I saw no appreciable difference in my likes. BUT, what I did notice was that the paid “likes” that I received through Facebook advertising were not from followers who liked country design, did not comment or engage in my page at all, and many had blank profile pages. This is a recent typical “new like”: Vu Tuan (the profile states this person is male)-is there any indication here that she/he would be the least bit interested in country design? I don’t know for sure because I cannot translate Vietnamese, but I am thinking not, since most of her/his likes are American TV shows and companies.

Facebook Vu Tuan

So, where on earth are these likes being generated from? Is Facebook committing advertising fraud or not? This is a You Tube video from Derek Muller of Veritasium, who normally writes about scientific research and phenomena, but he published this video about Facebook advertising fraud because he believed it is an important topic. And, with over 1.5 million views, I would guess that he is not alone. Veritasium Video Pic This video (along with several other sources I have read) explains that most of the paid “likes” are being generated from “click farms” in developing countries like India, Indonesia and Bangladesh. The circled bubbles in this graph are the “likes”  from developing countries from a paid Facebook advertising campaign he had created specifically to test his theory. Veristasium Facebook Engagement These workers are paid $1 per thousand clicks to essentially sit all day and click away at anything and everything, whether it is directly related to the paid Facebook ad page or not. In essence, they are not “liking” you or your page, they are merely clicking away to make a dollar. Now, according to Veritasium, it is against Facebook rules to purchase likes through web companies that provide clicks per dollars, and your account can be suspended for that. But, the video goes on to claim that despite that rule, Facebook itself engages click farms to sell their advertising packages. In another article on Search Engine Watch, Facebook Ad Fraud: How Can Advertisers Combat Paid Likes? the author, Jennifer Slegg goes on to explain some strategies and steps to take to avoid having your advertising dollars being wasted on spam Facebook accounts. And, on Wikimotive: Why The Facebook Fraud Video Is Not Completely Accurate, author Erin Ryan refutes some of Veritasium’s key points, while citing her own advertising clicks to dollars spent, which is, on average, much more successful than those from the video. She states: “I’m not stating that the results that Veritasium have calculated are false, but the results may have been skewed, as the video doesn’t fully explain the targeting process.” Which is really the key issue here. We are all attempting to engage followers who are interested in what we are doing, selling, saying or creating so we must TARGET that audience specifically. So, what’s a low-budget, low-follower Facebook user to do if you’re not interested or able to purchase their ad boosts? Well, you can abandon Facebook altogether, there are plenty of other social media vehicles that are useful for spreading your information. But, like it or not, Facebook is still a powerful social media tool, and many bloggers and websites use Facebook “like” numbers as a gauge of how popular you really are. (However, I am typically suspicious of Facebook profiles that have 100,000+ “likes” if their other social media does not support that inflated number.) So-a few options. You can grow your followers organically, meaning that you search out other pages similar to yours, like them, follow them, comment on their pages and hopefully gain a follower and a new Facebook friend. This takes time, patience and the ability to sift through hundreds of pages, but once you have established that base, then more of your posts will be seen by more people, and you will gain more followers who will then in turn, see more of your posts. Or, you can join one of the many, many contests and giveaways that circumvent the paid Facebook advertising altogether. BUT, you are still paying for advertising, only now its going to the originators of the contest-the “hosts”. You pay them, sometimes upwards of $50, for a chance to participate in a “click-fest” hosted through a third-party contest portal like Rafflecopter. In order to win the prize, readers must click and like the hosts’ Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc… pages. There can be as many as 40-50 clicks that are required in order to enter the contest, which can be tedious, but hey, its a chance to win some quick cash or gift cards! Over the holidays,I participated in a Facebook New Year’s Giveaway, where the first prize was $500. I paid my $40 to the hosts, and watched my “likes” grow by approximately 1500, which was great! Some dropped off and “unliked” me once the contest was over : ( but my new followers are primarily from the US, engaged in what I am posting and continue to follow my page on Facebook. But, in the end, I felt that I was merely buying “likes” to boost my Facebook numbers, and for me, that is not the answer to gaining true fans of my blog, which is what I am really trying to promote. So, for now, I am going to keep my advertising dollars and focus on my true purpose: blogging and DIY’ing-and hope that my readers will “like” me because (as Sally Fields once declared), you really “like” me!!! If you have any thoughts, ideas or suggestions on this interesting and timely topic, let me know! I would love to hear how all of you promote your blogs and gain followers. In the meantime, have a spring-is-almost-here Sunday, everyone! Susan

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