As more than half of the Internet population across the globe is on social networks, every organization is struggling to find new ways to build a follower base and garner more interaction than competitors.We were recently discussing the requirements of a potential client. “What is the objective that they have defined?” I was asking my client servicing executive. The answer came as no different from what I keep hearing. “We need a million likes on our page every month”, a senior manager in the digital manager had specified. My obvious next questions was, “But did you not explain to them that it is engagement that we should be looking at, and not mere ‘likes’ which will not really help the brand?” And there came this much expected admission, “Another agency is offering them a million likes per month and they are ok to pay extra bucks for it”.
For customers and marketers, social media marketing remains the sole pursuit of chasing Facebook ‘likes’ and it is unfortunate to realize that the situation is not changing. While a recent Gartner report said that 10 -15% of brand’s social media fans, likes and reviews are fake, we see brands still chasing ‘likes’ and focusing on the wrong metrics. These vanity numbers, which can easily be bumped up, deliver no real value for customers.
Fake numbers has been a concern of the growing advertising industry ever since the web went commercial in the mid-1990s and the first banner ad was rolled out in 1996. In September of 2012, some of the most popular pages on Facebook of singers Lady Gaga and Rihanna lost 34,000 and 28,000 followers respectively, after Facebook decided to remove the fake ‘followers’. A lot of other brands lost a large share of their followers.
Even though the concept of fake followers for famous and not-so-famous brands is now a reality, because of some over promising agencies and lack of understanding at the client’s end, some brands are still blinded by the ‘like’ and ‘follower’ number, with no focus on the interactions.
It is time for brands to focus on business focused metrics that may relate to ‘likes’ and fans, but are not dependent on them. Not only will this help cut down on the spam that appears on the brand page, but also result in more accurate engagement report and better insights into audience behavior.