Facebook Marketing: Should You Use It?

Veritasium concludes that advertising your page on Facebook is a waste of money

VERITASIUM is a popular educational science channel on YouTube, created by Derek Muller, which tries to uncover misconceptions about science.

While not technically “science”, Veritasium has released an interesting and insightful video about the worth of Facebook marketing. In short, Facebook marketing appears to be a waste of money.

Muller provides evidence that the overwhelming share of Facebook likes are fake. He paid Facebook to promote Veritasium’s page, and got more likes. However, he also found that around 75% of new likes came from Egypt, India, The Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. The portion of likes from these “click farm” countries that engaged with Veritasium’s Facebook page (either by sharing, liking or commenting on posts) was less than 1%. This compared extremely poorly with the engagement levels coming from Western countries, which usually exceeded 25%.

Muller is saying two things. Firstly, it appears that most Facebook likes are fake. And secondly, it appears that fake likes are very unlikely to engage with new content. This is not overly surprising, but is it a problem?

Apparently, yes.

Due to the way that Facebook distributes information, fake Facebook likes are less than worthless. When you create a post, Facebook will distribute it to a small fraction of the people who like your page in order to gauge their reaction. If they engage with it (by sharing, liking or commenting), then Facebook will distribute the post to more of your likes and maybe even to their friends. However, if you have a large number of fake likes, then Facebook’s initial distribution will go out to less real fans and therefore receive less engagement. As a result, you are likely to reach a much smaller number of people.

This is counter-intuitive, but it makes sense, and has significant implications for marketers. It means that advertising your page on Facebook could do you more harm than good. Making it harder for you to reach true fans, and harder for them to spread the word.