Popular science blogger Derek Muller is used to getting a million-plus views for his YouTube videos. But his most recent hit has nothing to do with physics or space. It's a complete takedown of Facebook advertising. With science! (Well, with graphs, at least.)
"Facebook fraud" is how he describes it, and it goes something like this: Brands and businesses pay to advertise their Page(s) on Facebook. And you can definitely acquire new followers that way, as Derek found out in his experiment with a made-up Page. The problem is that many may be bogus, possibly originating from "click-farms" indiscriminately clicking Like all over Facebook in an effort to hide direct evidence of Like-buying from Facebook, who've tried to crack down on bogus accounts in the past.
Why does it matter if a bunch of your fans are fake? Because they don't interact with your Page, and that interaction is one way that Facebook's notorious newsfeed algorithm determines who sees your post. So, according to Derek, buying Facebook ads can actually mean that fewer real fans see your posts.
Marketers were already grouchy that Facebook's ever-decreasing organic (non-paid) reach meant they'd have to pay to show their posts to more fans -- fans that, in many cases, were acquired with Facebook advertising. Basically:
Pay to attract new followers.
See engagement and then organic reach decrease.
Pay to boost your posts to fans.
So you can see why Derek is a little salty about this whole Facebook thing. Facebook denies that fake Likes do anything for them. "Fake Likes don't 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," a rep told Mashable. For a more complete response to Muller's video, check out Facebook ad expert Jon Loomer's recent article.
You can catch last week's episode on the hottest new thing in social apps -- privacy -- right here.
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