Facebook Revenue and Fake Users
News | 4 min read

Has Facebook Really Hidden an Entire Country of Fake Users?!

by Dennis Kibirev November 9, 2017

Last week, Facebook released their earnings report for Q3, which caused a stir in the financial and tech communities. Mainly, because the company smashed its earnings targets, making investors very giddy.

Don’t Let Walled Gardens of Gold Blind You

Ok, so I’m sure you’re happy that one of our solar system’s largest websites is doing well. But what’s in it for you as a marketer?

There is an underbelly to this spate of rosy announcements that is a little bone-chilling for brands and business owners alike.

And we’re not talking ‘bone-chilling’ as in Facebook’s gimmicky features launched in time for Halloween . The hair-raisers we’re referring to are much scarier than your ability to  “make newsfeed posts more boo-tiful or spook-tacular.”

There are two recent pieces of news that have consequences for anyone who counts the platform a staple of their marketing mix.

More Trick Than Treat

Facebook’s cute attempt at getting into the holiday spirit masked some of the more sinister goings-on, such as the testing of an updated newsfeed algorithm. A feature release that seems to severely hurt a Page’s organic reach. In true Casper style, this new algorithm turns your organic posts into ghosts as far as a user’s feed is concerned.

So, while investors were uncorking champagne bottles, the ‘Explore Feed’ got Facebook marketers thinking about hitting the bottle for different reasons. While it’s an addition that is not supposed to interfere with the mechanics of a user’s normal feed, this doesn’t seem to be the case in practice. In tests, Page posts were deprioritized in favour of friends’ posts and ads in several countries where the beta testing was carried out.

In response to the commotion, Facebook issued an official statement clarifying the purpose of the tests and saying the feature isn’t likely to be implemented anytime soon. ‘Isn’t likely’ and ‘soon’ are the two keywords here. Ambiguity abides, as always.

No Country For Fake Men… But There’s A Social Network For Them!

We recently wrote about the ramifications of Russia’s supposed interference in US elections and what it means to marketers. The earnings report also revealed another nefarious side to the company’s self-serving fanfare, which is the real number of users who aren’t ‘really real.’

Ah, fake profiles – Facebook’s old guard – aging as gracefully as the social media giant who is now at least a septuagenarian in internet years.

If all of the combined fake profiles and duplicate accounts bandied together, chose a flag and drafted a constitution then the population of this ghost government would make it the fourth-largest country in the world. That’s right, Facebook recently admitted that their current total clocks in at 270 million clickfarm-friendly citizens.

While the social network claims that the sudden doubling of fake accounts is a direct result of increased fraud prevention efforts, it’s just additional confirmation that marketers must remain vigilant.

Looking Beyond the Towering Social Media Hedges

With the Melbourne cup having just finished, using an equestrian metaphor only seems appropriate. So here it is: “don’t bet your marketing efforts on one horse, particularly if you suspect that it’s potentially a dark one.”

And we’re not talking just Facebook. Or Google. Or SnapChat. Or any of the social media hedges that are too tall for any brand to peer over. Betting on any of these advertising show ponies – especially if you’re investing heavily in just one channel – makes your marketing strategy vulnerable.

Don’t Bet On One Non-Transparent Horse – Build a Stable

The Facebook feed example mentioned earlier applies equally to heavy advertisers on other platforms. This is no different to the YouTube algorithm change that caused many creators to lose significant revenue earlier this year.

When it happened, no one saw it coming but many businesses lost big time. And who knows what other surprises the ‘Walled Gardens Club’ have in store for 2018?

The trick is to develop a truly cross-channel advertising strategy that puts you in control of your marketing outcomes. As a marketer, this is as good a resolution as you can make coming into the new year.