As Facebook continues to struggle with properly monetizing its platform, SMBs have been forced to evaluate how they market on the social network. It’s even caused some to consider abandoning their Facebook strategy in favor of greener pastures.
Frustration with Facebook is spreading. This recent YouTube video by Veritasium was quite revealing (it’s nine minutes long, but worth the watch if you advertise on Facebook):
If you don’t have eight minutes to spare, here’s the gist: The folks at Veritasium explain in detail – with supporting data – how likes purchased through the Facebook advertising system aren’t worth what you pay for.
Page admins can go out into the recesses of the internet and purchase bulk likes for cheap. These “Click Farms” pay workers in developing nations to like your page. These fake likes will increase your total like count, but do nothing to boost engagement, and it’s a direct violation of Facebook’s use policies.
So, Facebook gives you the option of purchasing ads through their system to increase your likes. But the Veritasium video concludes that most of these “legit” likes come from those very same link farms.
And thus, we have yet another wrinkle in the Facebook advertising platform. If you buy likes through Facebook, you could end up with a lot of followers who don’t actively engage with your content. Facebook only shares your content with a small percentage of your total followers. So if a majority of your followers are fake, they won’t engage with your content and your posts will go nowhere. What does that mean? That you have to pay again to amplify your posts in the hopes of getting in front of your real fan base. It’s a double-dip. Large brands may be able to eat this cost, but for SMBs, every penny matters.
Should You Move to a New Sandbox?
Other platforms, like Google+ take a lot more work. Social media managers like buying Facebook likes because they can set it and forget it. They get to report the new likes to their bosses and poof! The work is done. But on G+ you have to do actual marketing work to earn circles and comments. But the interactions that are happening over there are genuine.
Yes, Google tries very hard to force users into G+, but once you’re there and you work it, you can create solid engagement with followers. And if you use it correctly, it can improve your author rank and SEO efforts. It has its flaws, but with Google you know what you’re signing up for. Facebook changes the rules on a dime, and the average SMB can’t keep up.
Facebook will always be challenged because its algorithm is reactionary. They only know what you’ve liked and been interested in the past, and they don’t account for the present. Google, on the other hand, lives in the now. Google knows what you’re looking for at the very moment you’re looking for it. And that’s why their ads are far more valuable.
And nobody goes to Facebook to buy things. So the ads you place there are always going to be interruption-based marketing tools. People use Google to buy things. So the ads are much more welcome and just make more sense.
Clearly, I fall in the Veritasium camp. I feel that Facebook’s model is flawed. I firmly understand the need for them to monetize the platform, but I disagree with the methods. That being said, Facebook advertising can work for businesses, and it can work well. For a well-constructed argument – with supporting data – against the Veritasium video, visit Jon Loomer’s blog.
The real scoop lies somewhere in the middle. Mr. Loomer is an advanced Facebook marketer. The average SMB isn’t on his level (and probably doesn’t have the budget to get up to speed quickly). And the Veritasium video does have its flaws. Over at Search Engine Journal, they recently conducted a detailed case study on whether Facebook’s ads for likes are worth it. Their conclusion: it depends.
And that’s probably the best conclusion. It depends. If you’re after vanity metrics, go for it. And as you become savvier in the ways of Facebook marketing, you can squeeze more value from buying Facebook likes. Or, you and pick up your toys and move to another sandbox where you’ll get a higher return right out of the gate.
What do you think about paying for Facebook likes? Do you think it’s still worth it? Let me know in the comments.
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