Marketers should be wary of Facebook ‘likes’
13 July 2012
Marketers are wasting vast amounts of money on ads to gain ‘likes’ on Facebook from users who have no real interest in their products, according to findings from a BBC investigation.
The investigation was carried out after the BBC was contacted by a marketing consultant who warned clients to be wary of the true value of a Facebook ‘like’.
As a result, the BBC found that many account holders clicking on the links have either lied about their personal details or appeared to be fakes and run by computer programs to spread spam.
Earlier this year, Facebook revealed that approximately 5-6% of its 901 million users worldwide might be fake, which represents up to 54 million profiles.
“Spammers and malware authors can mass-produce false Facebook profiles to help them spread dangerous links and spam, and trick people into befriending them,” Graham Cluley of security firm Sophos told the BBC. “We know some of these accounts are run by computer software. I’m sure Facebook is trying to shut these down but it can be difficult to distinguish fake accounts from real ones.”
According to a Facebook spokesperson, the social network has not seen evidence of a significant problem:
“We don’t see evidence of a ‘wave of likes’ coming from fake users or ‘obsessive clickers’,” the spokesperson said. “Neither has it been raised by the many advertisers who are enjoying positive results from using Facebook. All of these companies have access to Facebook’s analytics which allow them to see the identities of people who have liked their pages, yet this has not been flagged as an issue. A very small percentage of users do open accounts using pseudonyms but this is against our rules and we use automated systems as well as user reports to help us detect them.”
Advertisers pay Facebook to place ads on the social network that invite users to ‘like’ their Facebook page. Companies including Coca-Cola, Disney and Converse have attracted millions of ‘likes’.
General Motors recently pulled the plug on its Facebook advertising due to what it considered to be low consumer impact.
See also: The price of loyalty - where M&M Global explored the value of a fan in social media.
Jenni Baker, London