Can advertising with Facebook can actually decrease engagement?
A while back I watched a great video – an exposé on the reality of advertising with Facebook. More recently an article on Business Insider by Jim Edwards relays a bitter dispute between Facebook and a successful fashion company right here in Toronto pointing to the same issues explained in the video.
I’m interested in this as Facebook and advertising, to me, make strange bedfellows. As you’ll see – there’s hard data to back up my hunch.
Here’s the back story: the video was created by Veritasium’s Derek Muller. If you haven’t heard of either, Veritasium produces excellent science videos that explain, demystify and sometimes debunk misconceptions about science. Muller has a knack of making science interesting and accessible to a non-science crowd. That’s would include me and about 1.5 million other subscribers to his YouTube channel.
Called “Facebook Fraud,” this video breaks down how Facebook advertising works … I mean how it really works. Yes, it’s 8 minutes which in our busy and hectic workdays is also known as eternity but is worth watching from start to finish as Derek lays out how advertising with Facebook can lead to an increase in likes and a decrease in engagement. That’s right, it can actually hurt your Facebook presence.
So if you’re advertising on Facebook or thinking about it – 8 minutes may actually have a pretty decent return on investment.
One company’s $600K cautionary tale
I’m sure Raaj Kapur wishes he’d dedicated 8 minutes of his busy day to the Veritasium video. It could have a saved him $600,000.
Raaj Kapur is CEO of Fetopolis, the parent company of Fashion & Style Magazine with 1.6 million Facebook fans (and that’s just one of its Facebook pages). In the Business Insider article he tells the story of how a Walmart-sized Facebook budget polluted his following with fake fans from bogus accounts, grossly overstated click-throughs to his website paying for fake likes. It sounds an awful lot like the video. You can read the whole sordid story here.
So what does it take to drive traffic to your site?
“Engagement” is one of those buzzwords we hear a lot. From email lists inflated by subscribers who no longer care, to fake likes on Facebook, it’s the engagers that matter; the people who are truly interested in what you have to say and what you’re selling. They’re the people who share, comment and hopefully buy.
It’s hard to buy engagement.
Does it matter if you have 500,000 fans if no one is commenting and the bounce rate on your website is 96%? If you’re investing in Facebook advertising measuring its success on Facebook in terms of engagement (not just likes and fans) and in Google Analytics is critical.
The more subjective question is: do people want to be advertised to in Facebook? I’ll leave that to you to decide.