Facebook is broken

Facebook likes brokenFacebook is broken. The site isn’t down, you can still login to your account. The problem is with its business model. Have you noticed how your newsfeed is getting more filtered? When you post something to your Facebook wall, it is only seen by a few of your friends. To prevent people’s walls from being inundated with thousands of posts, Facebook shares your posts with just a few of your friends, then if those friends like your post it is shared with more of your friends.

Facebook does the same thing with their business pages. When you post to your business page it is shared with a few of the people who have “liked” your page. If it does well and the post gets likes/comments then it is shared with more of your fans. Sounds like it should work well, right? If you post relevant articles then it will reach more people.

How does Facebook make money? To get more “likes” on your Facebook page you need to advertise on Facebook. People that are interested in your page will like it and then you increase your reach. As a business looking for innovative marketing mediums this sounds great. I spend money to get likes, I spend money to create campaigns, my successful campaigns are seen by my audience and increase my consumer brand interaction.

Here’s the problem. It turns out it is not working that way. Derek Muller of Veritasium published his findings in this fascinating Youtube video.

He showed that when people pay for likes through Facebook’s legitimate advertising scheme you get mostly fake users liking your product. While it’s unlikely that Facebook is intentionally promoting your ads to fake accounts, they seem to be the people clicking on your ads most frequently.

So after paying Facebook for 10,000 more likes you start a marketing campaign to engage your newly expanded community but you notice your engagement decline. Because Facebook shows your posts to a few of your fans to test engagement before sharing it with more of your fans, and since most of the purchased likes are from fake accounts, the pool of real users is diluted and fewer real fans will see your posts.

There are a few theories going around as to why fake accounts are purchasing ads through Facebook, but irregardless Facebook has a serious business model issue. Businesses work when they have customers willing to purchase a product that provides value to that customer. If a product turns out to be worthless people will stop buying it. And unfortunately for Facebook, their advertising model is turning out to worse than worthless. It makes their customer’s experience worse. What do you think? Do you think Facebook will find a solution to this problem? Or have you found a better way to reach your audience online?

I help people build better web apps and make a difference in the world. I enjoy sharing what I am learning and find interesting. I live on the Left Coast of Canada with my wife. Follow me on Twitter.

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