BBC’s fake bagel company gets 3000 Facebook likes – Facebook ANZ responds
"We ran a Facebook ad campaign and got likes from dozens of 'fans' who had over 1000 likes each. One even had over 2000."Featured comment
UPDATE/ July 16: Facebook is disputing a BBC story in which a reporter set up a fake company and found it got 3000 "likes" on the back of a $US10 ad capaign.
The social network's NZ marketing solutions manager, Paul Webster, passed on an NBR ONLINE query to Facebook Australia-New Zealand communications and public policy manager Mia Garlick.
Ms Garlick replied: "The pages in question – in particular the experimental page 'the social write-up' – have been used in an extremely unusual fashion, which has resulted in some a-typical interactions.
"The administrator [BBC reporter Rory Cellan-Jones] appears to have sent out 'scatter gun' advertising to a massive global audience without specifying a target group in terms of their age, location, likes and interests [he did specify, albeit broadly in terms of geography – CK].
"We would never recommend that anyone conduct business in this way.
"Furthermore, all page admins are able to see who has liked their page and were other advertisers having a similar experience, this would undoubtedly have been raised before now.
"If advertisers suspect that likes are coming from bogus accounts, we would encourage them to report these to Facebook."
Ms Garlick also pointed NBR to a follow-up Q&A between BBC and Mr Cellen-Jones.
The guts of it is the BBC reporter says his experience indicates that "there are plenty of fake profiles being generated in parts of the world," and that "It seems that many of the 'likes' on brands' pages – big companies and small – come from countries like Egypt and the Philippines, from people who 'like' just about anything. That's good for Facebook – every click on an ad earns you money – but are advertisers getting a good deal?"
Facebook's response: "This doesn't represent the experience of most advertisers on Facebook. The examples that you have mentioned are really unusual and seem to be the result of some bad advertising practice."
BBC’s fake bagel company gets 3000 Facebook likes
July 15: A broadcaster’s stunt has thrown doubt on the value of the “likes” so coveted by Facebook’s advertisers.
BBC reporter Rory Cellan-Jones set up a site for West London company VirtualBagel on Facebook.
To publicise it, he booked a modest $US10 ad campaign on the social network.
By the end of his campaign’s first week, VirtualBagel had 2999 likes.
Problem: VirtualBagel doesn’t exist beyond its Facebook page. No one could actually have appreciated its service, or eaten any of its bagels, because it doesn’t make any.
But it seems you don't need to do a lot – or indeed, anything beyond a $US10 Facebook ad campaign – to attract fans.
VirtualBagel’s site consisted of a brief statement on how one day it would like to offer bagels for download. So who liked it.
Mr Cellan-Jones says mainly people in Malaysia, the Philippines and – especially – Egypt. He highlighted one Cairo-based fan – who goes by the name of Cristiano Ronaldo (as in the footballer) who liked thousands of brands.
That is, Mr Ronaldo looked suspiciously like a bot.
I’ve asked Facebook’s NZ marketing solutions manager for comment – though I think we can safely pre-empt one element of his response. That is, that Mr Cellan Jones (as the BBC man acknowledged) could have geo-targetted his campaign to just people in the UK.
Regardless, I’m still a bit dubious of “Likes”.
I chose to “Like” the aforementioned Skinny, but only because I was curious about the new Telecom brand, and wanted to see updates. Lots of fast food chains are using the lure of discounts and give aways to pump up their number of “Likes”.
I can only see three of the 93,000 who like Skinny, as those three are also my Facebook friends. But judging by his comments on Twitter, one of those three is outright hostile to the brand.
Last month, Facebook paid $US10 million to settle a lawsuit over the use of “Likes” of a product turning up in a person’s feed. It’s now changed the rules for such so-called “social ads” to include an opt-in provision.
That’s a good thing … and I’m sure the likes of Mr Cristiano Ronaldo in Cairo will happily give their permission.