August 7, 2012
All of a sudden, it seems that everyone is picking on Facebook. The stock is half of what the IPO was valued at, as of last week, and on top of what seems like a daily headline after another headline about negative aspects around the site now, I noticed this one that proclaimed, "83 Million Facebook Accounts May be Fake!" Read the full story here.
The study that uncovered these results suggested the millions of fake users may come from dubious sources, including duplicate accounts, pages for pets, and those designed to only send spam. The concern, according to the "experts," is that this could impact revenue for the social media giant, who continues to try and boost advertising effectiveness.
So, why does it matter for you? Here's my opinion on why it's important.
How many media companies and radio stations can say with 100% accuracy that your database, followers, likes and members are all real people/accounts, too?
In working with many organizations as a marketing or new media person, and even consulting with more teams through my own company, I can tell you that no one has yet been able to show me or even focus on this aspect of the business. However, according to the study, this discrepancy in "real users" is credited as a critical component for the site in seeking more advertising revenue.
So, the question in my mind is, does this explain the poor results we are seeing for Facebook as an ad medium? Furthermore, what type of results are you getting with your client integration through e-mail, Facebook, and so on?
And, if the critics are putting this aspect of Facebook under a microscope ... how long before agencies and clients do the same to you?
If a client really looked deeper, would it be real users for you? ... or is the result, which I see more often than not, a product of simply selling what appears to be a very big bucket full of names, but many may simply be fakers.
Here are a few ideas to get real with your followers, fans, and members.
* Hire a data-cleansing company to detect and correct (or eliminate) corrupt or inaccurate records. A simple Google search will result in many options and price ranges to assist you, but USA Data or Accudata come to mind as industry leaders for me.
* Activate a survey and/or contest that offers an incentive for participating and confirming your willingness to continue as a member, follower, fan, etc. of the brand.
* Use a similar idea to the one we see posted on Facebook all the time. Example: We are currently cleaning up our friend/member list and need you to respond and let us know you are still interested in following/receiving updates/e-mails/etc. If we do not hear a response within a (select time period), you will be removed from our list.
Have a photo contest where users/fans/members have to identify the location of local landmarks or places. This will not only qualify members, but also localize them.
And if you are low on funds or want to go low tech, just go to the database, Facebook page, etc. and reach out to the person (or have an intern do it) and discover if it's a real account or address.
These ideas and a focus on this area will not only qualify you as a "real player" with "real people" for clients and partners to reach through your efforts, but it will also illustrate a "real active" strategy that has more depth than simply a bucket full of fakers.
photo credit: Anand Mohan Srivastava