Businesses have been deploying social media as part of their marketing mix over the past few years and spent millions, if not billions of dollars on social media advertising and acquiring more Facebook “Likes” for their pages. Almost every brand wanted to be on Facebook and have more “Likes” than their competitors. That in a way, undermined the value of social media and what the medium is in fact capable of delivering. Some brands decided to buy “Likes” or to practise “Like-baiting” just to have more “Likes” on their pages; and believed this would increase their reach. Many even counted number of “Likes” on Facebook page and followers on Twitter towards their CRM databases.
Above activities turned social media to a numbers game but, recent changes announced by social network sites owners and investors seem promising; for example Facebook is now deleting fake profiles and “Likes”.
Obviously, owners and investors of social network sites aren’t spending their time and money on social media for fun, they’ve made social media their business. So, ROI is as important to them as it is to brands. They want to have real and active members subscribed to their services ensuring they serve their clients (advertisers) as profitable as possible.
Businesses have been hiring different consultants and agencies to make sense of social media marketing. Roles which didn’t exist 5 yeas ago are now amongst top well paid jobs; all meant to ensure brands are investing their money where their mouth is. Social data and social media user behaviour (what I call social media psychology) are incredibly important to brands to understand and measure; and this is one of the jobs if one does well, it pays well. Understanding social media psychology and turning social data into insights help brands in their targeting and marketing; what can in fact justify social media ROI. Some agencies and brands have been struggling with this while seeking strategic solutions.
As you may imagine, past few years have been quite challenging for both businesses and social network sites to fine-tune social media targeting and marketing; largely due to existence of unreal social media profiles known as bots. Facebook announced in 2012 that around 9% of Facebook accounts aren’t real; and this announcement alone sent the social network’s share price below $20 in addition to unwanted negative publicity in the press. Furthermore, Forbes reported in 2012 that up to 80% of Facebook ad clicks came from bots; and this is certainly worrying for brands spending time and money on Facebook advertising. A serious action is seen inevitable not only by Facebook but by every major player in social media space.
As Facebook is serious about their business, they decided to protect their reputation by making sure their platform is home to real people; hence their effort and promises to advertisers for more genuine and targeted users. As it appears, the move is to once again introduce Facebook as an attractive and relevant advertising platform. As part of this exercise, Facebook is even asking their members report anyone they know using names other than their own names.
Some brands have already lost up to 18% of their Facebook pages “Likes” as a result; they are questioning this move by Facebook. Brands are concerned that why they should be losing the “Likes” they invested time and money in but, Facebook aims at promoting integrity and transparency on their platform.
In the end, what Facebook has started doing is beneficial to brands too and the changes will translate to less ad dollars spent and less spam comments; which undoubtedly will lead to better sentiments and more meaningful content and community management. Last but not least, lower “Likes” but more engaged and targeted users, as well as accurate social data add more commercial value and boost loyalty.
If you’d like to speak to Ehsan about anything social media and digital marketing related, you may like follow him on Twitter.