February 13, 2014

The Joke Called Facebook Likes

A few weeks ago I wrote a couple of blog posts entitled The Slow Painful Collapse Of The Social Media Fantasy (Part 1) and  (Part 2).

The thrust of these posts was that...
"The idea that consumers were enthusiastic about having conversations about brands online, and they would activate their network of friends and followers to share their enthusiasms and create a socially transmitted tsunami of sales has proven to be deeply fanciful."
"Social media are quickly evolving into just another channel for delivering traditional interruptive advertising."
This week, a wonderful video from a science blogger about his testing of how the accumulation of Facebook "likes" really works has been flying all over the web. If you haven't seen it yet, here it is. It is 9 minutes long but it's worth every second.

This is just more evidence that the assumptions behind social media marketing are turning out to have been naive and unrealistic.

In the fullness of time, Facebook will be seen to be no different from any other website. Its primary value to advertisers will not be in the infantile fantasies of social media marketing -- the value will be in its ability to deliver traditional paid ads to a large audience.

Which, coincidentally, just happens to be the way it makes money.


guest said...

Now I'd like to see the same video done for Youtube views.

Sean Peake said...

Holy Cats! What a brilliant takedown

Graham Strong said...


Are you positing that Facebook encouraged social media marketing not because it knew (or even hoped) that it would work, but because it knew it wouldn't...?

First, attract the audience. Second, attract people trying to market to that audience. Third (when Step 2 has failed), offer marketers a *better* way to reach that audience through paid sponsorships. Since paid advertising is what most are used to anyway, it's not a big leap to ask marketers to make, especially if it will save their social media bacon after poor results...


Beatrice Zelenko said...

That's amazing... and you spent $25 to prove your point... imaging how much large corporations pay Facebook each time they promote a post...

TCWriter said...

As the number of ads/sponsored posts in my Facebook news feed continue to climb, I find myself repelled not just by the ads, but by the wholly scammy/cheesy nature of the companies.

It's not as if I invest my precious online time researching second-rate insurance companies or new age snake oil remedies, but those ads (and worse) clog my feed.

Is Facebook's ad channel (and social media advertising in general) beset by scam artists, or is Big Data not the cure for abysmal online ad clickthrough rates everyone said it was?

I have a feeling marketers -- and Facebook's user base -- aren't going to like the answers.

Cecil B. DeMille said...

Why is it that every time I come to this blog and social media is the subject of the post, I hear that "DUN DUN" noise from Law & Order in my head before I start reading?

KJ said...

Ok, yea, this is true.

Savvy digital marketers knew this long ago.

Thank you for pulling the wool from my eyes.

Here's the problem with this 'experiment': there was no discussion of the details. Particularly, no discussion of the targeting used for these experiments other than the COUNTRY (and something about cat-lovers)... Last time I logged into FB power editor there were a ton (a real shit-load) of targeting options.

Any good marketer will use these targeting filters to narrow their audience to a very, very small segment of facebook users. Then they'll measure and refine it over time. This effectively eliminates 95% of the fake profiles.

While I remain ever skeptical of the social media magicians, the ad platform just works. Its quite easy to measure as long as you avoid bullshit discussions on "engagement."