Facebook Fraud and Problems Exposed [videos]

The other day someone told me about these 2 videos by the science Vlogger Derek Muller where he asks, “What is the value of a Facebook like?”  The answer, which I've known for awhile, is basically… next to nothing.

Muller, who goes by the handle Veritasium on Youtube, posted a video entitled Facebook Fraud on February 10th.  As I write this the 9 minute video currently has about 1,460,000 views.

facebook fraud

Muller spent money on Facebook advertising to try to boost his Likes on his Veritasium Facebook page.  The result?  He got tons of fake Likes using Facebook advertising from countries like Indonesia, Egypt, and Bangladesh which are “click farm” countries.  This means he got the same result paying for Facebook advertising as he would have gotten if he had gone to a third party provider and bought Facebook likes.  He pointed out that he has 80,000 likes on the Veritasium Facebook page from the countries mentioned but those accounts add up to a paltry 1% engagement.  Since he currently has over 100,000 likes this means that 80% of his page is useless.

virtual catHe also created a stupid and useless Facebook page called Virtual Cat which was supposed to only show the most annoying and mindless drivel.  Using Facebook Advertising he STILL got likes.  Checkout the video below.

Facebook Fraud

Evidence Facebook's revenue is based on fake likes.  I know first-hand that Facebook's advertising model is deeply flawed. When I paid to promote my page I gained 80,000 followers in developing countries who didn't care about Veritasium (but I wasn't aware of this at the time). They drove my reach and engagement numbers down, basically rendering the page useless. I am not the only one who has experienced this. Rory Cellan-Jones had the same luck with Virtual Bagel: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-…

The US Department of State spent $630,000 to acquire 2 million page likes and then realized only 2% were engaged. http://wapo.st/1glcyZo

I thought I would demonstrate that the same thing is still happening now by creating Virtual Cat (http://www.facebook.com/MyVirtualCat). I was surprised to discover something worse – false likes are coming from everywhere, including Canada, the US, the UK, and Australia. So even those carefully targeting their campaigns are likely being duped into spending real money on fake followers. Then when they try to reach their followers they have to pay again.

And it's possible to be a victim of fake likes without even advertising. Pages that end up on Facebook's “International Suggested Pages” are also easy targets for click-farms seeking to diversify their likes. http://tnw.co/NsflrC

Later in the video he says, “Wherever you are targeting, advertising your page on Facebook is a waste of money.”  Not something social media consultants want to hear but from my experiences I've found this to be true.  When I used to work for a website that had 1+ million visitors a day and 150,000 likes on the site's Facebook page, you want to know how many people clicked through to the website each day when a post was sharex?  A few thousand, if we were lucky mostly less.  The site got more referral traffic from RSS feeds than Facebook click-through's. They did not pay for likes or use bots to my understanding.

 the problem with facebook Another interesting video Muller posted last month on January 14th is “The Problem with Facebook” on his 2Veritasium channel.  He points out that it is hard to figure out what the value is of Facebook interactions compared to a platform like Youtube where it is much more clear what a view means.  He argues that the values of Facebook are out-of-whack as well.

The Problem With Facebook

Facebook is a complex ecosystem of individuals, creators, brands and advertisers, but I don't think it serves any of these groups particularly well because its top priority is to make money. Now, I don't think making money is a bad thing, in fact I hope to make some myself. The problem is the only way Facebook has found to make money is by treating all entities on the site as advertisers and charging them to share their content.

This business plan backfires because 1) not all entities ARE advertisers and 2) it was the content from these people, specifically friends, family, and creators that made the site worth visiting in the first place. Now the incentives are misaligned:
– individuals want to see great content, but they are now seeing more paid content and organically shared content which appeals to the lowest common denominator (babies, weddings, and banal memes)
– creators want to reach fans but their posts are being throttled to force them to pay to be seen
– brands and advertisers have to pay once to advertise their page on Facebook, and then pay again to reach the people who have already liked their page. Plus Facebook is not a place where people generally go to buy things.

Almost every single publication that covers tech or social media has written articles or editorials about Vertasium's Facebook videos.  (Specifically the Facebook Fraud one.)  It has sparked quite a lot of discussion about whether Facebook has lost control and raised into question whether it is a sinking giant.

Maybe since I deleted my Facebook Account of course I don't expect many others to do that.   The reality is I didn't feel like I got value out of using the service personally or for my businesses.  The other problem with Facebook is the demographics are changing.  You might remember that I asked the question on this blog “Is Facebook for Old People” since that seems to be the main demographic on there nowadays, much to the dismay of Facebook executives.

What's always been surprising to me is that the even those who are supposedly engaged with social media will just share things without even really taking the time to look at them.  For instance Dave Kerpen shared my review of his book Likeable Social Media, even though it was a less than stellar review.  This has led me to the conclusion that a Forums are better than Social Media.

I hope you watch Derek's videos and let me know what you think of them.  Is Facebook Fraud a real issue and does Facebook have real problems they have not addressed?  Will you continue to use the platform for your personal use, your business, or your brand?  Let me know as I'd love to hear feedback.

[Image Source – From Videos]

Twitter IPO a Success, Should you Invest?

twitter ipoThe big social media and financial news this week was the Twitter IPO (Initial Public Offering) which seems to have been quite a success for the social networking service.

Twitter started trading shares to the public on Thursday (November 7th, 2013) and opened at $45.13 per share.  This was a 73% gain from the $26 per share that was offered to insiders and existing shareholders on Wednesday, the day before the IPO.  Early reports projected TWTR, the stock ticker symbol Twitter is listed under, to list around $35.

Twitter shares reached a high of trading at $50.09 during the Thursday, the first day of trading.  However, on Friday the shares slipped back down to under $45 and as of this writing the stock current sit at $41.65 per TWTR share.

Even if the shares pulled back Friday the Twitter IPO gave the social media company a huge boost in it's market capitalization.  How much?  About $25 billion along with the surging stock of course this fluctuates with the stock price.  It currently sits at under $20 billion.  This still means Twitter has a bigger valuation than a lot of S&P500 companies. The real question, is that a fair valuation for Twitter?

By all accounts Twitter is a poster child for a successful technology and social media company.  Twitter has roughly 100 million active users each day and over 230+ million accounts.  (Probably about 10%-15% of those accounts are bots though.)   Users create 500 million Tweets each day sharing thoughts to the world in 140 characters or less.

twitter iphone

Twitter's numbers are quite impressive but the microblogging service has yet to find a great way to make, you know… money.  Currently the best way Twitter is pulling in cash is Promoted Tweets and Trends.  Companies can pay to show Tweets to users they believe will find them of value and try to promote a hashtag trend they want to get noticed.  The company has also toyed with different ways to make money but a lot of those are not worth mentioning.  The Twitter IPO helped raise cash too.

Everyone it seems uses Twitter from journalists, celebrities, athletes, politicians, etc.  Warren Buffet even has a Twitter account but he doesn't actively Tweet.  Still Twitter is seen as an important tool in the web 2.0 world.

It should be noted that TWTR listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and not the NASDAQ which is where most tech and social media companies are listed.  Does that means the executives and founders of Twitter view it differently?

Whatever Evan Williams and Jack Dorsey think they are probably pretty happy since they added a significant amount to their personal wealth.  It should be noted these two and did not offer any of their shares for sale.  None of the banks underwriting the IPO Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and JPMorgan Chase, decided to sell shares as well.

The general belief seems to be even if Twitter is not making money now, they will figure it out eventually.  A lot of people are still joining and starting to use the service and a majority of users use the social network on smartphones.  Twitter still could lose ground and users just like Facebook is experiencing now.  Remember my article asking “Is Facebook for Old People Now?”  Could the same thing happen to Twitter?

I was annoyed that they stopped support of TweetDeck Mobile apps and I haven't been happy with other decisions Twitter has made.  Overall they've done a good job of making the Twitter API easy for developers to build on and make 3rd party Twitter clients and applications which has helped fuel growth.

Liking a social media service is different than investing in it though.  Would you invest in Twitter with your personal money?  Do you believe the Twitter IPO was successful?  Do you think you would wait until the TWTR comes down?  What do you see in Twitter's future?

Is Facebook for Old People Now?

facebook for old peopleThe other day I was scrolling through a private forum and I noticed one of the hot topics was this question, “Is Facebook for Old People Now?” and therefore “Is Facebook considered lame and uncool?”

I should clarify these were not the exact questions in the forum but is the general gist of what a lot of people are discussing right now whether they be internet marketers, social media managers, bloggers, journalists, etc.  Facebook, once the darling of social media and web 2.0 companies, seems to be losing a lot of steam.  Why is this?

I could throw you a bunch of statistics, link to a ton of articles, and give you a lot of different reasons for this.  However, the simple and easy explanation is that Moms and Dads like it and use Facebook a lot nowadays.  That means teenagers obviously don't like Facebook and can't be seen where parents hangout, online or offline.  Therefore even young people that do have accounts, they really are not using Facebook for social networking.

Most of these young people have taken a liking to the 6-second video service, Vine.  (WordPress a few months ago enabled Vine videos to be easily embedded in posts.)  In addition they like Instagram, which is why Facebook spent 1 billion dollars to buy it, a photo sharing app allows you to easily create beautiful images and videos.  SnapChat is another popular photo sharing service as it allows a person to send a photo which only the receiver can view for no more than 10 seconds.  (That's why it has earned a reputation as a porn app.)  Additionally Twitter is also gaining in popularity due to the ease of use of the social network on mobile devices.

Basically that all adds up to limited time for other social network chiefly Facebook.  Young people consider Facebook a pain to use and too time consuming.  Besides you can hear their thoughts before they would sign-on, “Ahh, this is something my parents like.” is what a pimple-faced, braces-laden teenager is saying somewhere right now.

Facebook still has not figured out how to make it easy to manage pages vs profiles and how to quickly sort through the newsfeed.  I also don't really understand how people build audiences without spending money on ads.  I am not going to spend money with a social network I have gained little value from personally and professionally.  That's why I recently deleted my personal profile and that's the issue that Facebook executives are facing.  If young people don't use it, they won't spend money with them in the future.

What do you think?  Is Facebook for Old People now?  Can Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook reverse this trend or is it the natural rise and fall of websites and the internet?

[Image Source – Washington Post]

Google finallly allows people to get a Google Plus Custom URL

Google recently sent out emails to users of Google Plus (Google+), Google's social network, inviting them to setup and create a Google Plus Custom URL, aka vanity URL, for their Google Plus Profiles.  Here is the email I received and if you use Google+ I assume you got a similar email.

google plus custom urlNot everyone is eligible to go and get a Google Plus Custom URL for their Google Plus Profiles though.  In Google's support page they state;

If you meet the eligibility requirements, you can get a custom URL for your Google+ account or page. This means you can choose one of the custom URLs Google preassigns to your Google+ profile or page.

Google says that accounts must be in good standing to be eligible as well you must have 10 or more followers, have an account that is at least 30 days old, and a photo in you Google Plus Profile.  If you got the email I assume you meet all these requirements though.

Some important things to realize is that you can request to change the Google Plus Custom URL if you wish but it may take several days for Google to process and approve the request.  In addition once your Google Plus Custom URL has been approved, you will not be able to change it.  So make sure it is what you want before you click “Confirm” and go through with the process of getting the Google vanity URL.

It's fairly simple to setup the Google vanity URL.  Just follow the prompts in the email you received and it will walk you through it.  Google might ask you for a mobile phone number to request for the custom URL and you will have to wait to receive a text with a code to enter for 2-step verification.  (I am still waiting for that text from Google actually.)

google plus mobile numberGoogle Plus also allows local business pages to get a Google Plus custom URL as well provided it is a verified local business.  In addition Google Plus brand pages can also get a Google vanity URL if they wish but it must be linked to a website.

Overall being able to secure a Google custom URL is great news for users of Google Plus including brands and fanpages.  Not being able to secure a Google vanity URL was one of the biggest complaints about Google's social network.  Virtually ever other social network and bookmarking site allows you to grab a custom URL that is words and not a long string of numbers.

I was surprised that Google didn't roll this feature out when they initially launched Google Plus to be honest.  It makes finding and typing in pages easier.  People have a hard time remembering long strings of numbers.  Well, probably a Google engineer could.

What are your thoughts about being able to get a Google Plus custom URL now?  If you are on Google+ do appreciate this?  If are a still not on Google+ would this change make you want to setup a profile?

Not Using Social Media is Hard

not using social media

The other day I decided that I needed to try to put some of my social media use on hold for awhile.  The reason is I have several web projects I need to work on and it is quite time consuming to have to monitor social networks across many different platforms.  Not using social media at all though… well it's quite hard to do.

First I started with LinkedIn and wanted to see if I could deactivate my account for awhile.   Technically you can't deactivate an account but you can set your account so that nobody can see it.  This is basically the same thing as deactivating your account I guess since what good is a social media profile nobody can see?  Anyway after I did that I moved onto Twitter.

Weighing the options of temporarily deactivating my Twitter account I realized it probably wasn't possible for me to actually stop using Twitter.  I have auto posting setup for @AdamYamada and some other accounts which is kinda nice.  Besides like LinkedIn it seems the only way to deactivate an account is to just set your profile to private.  Of course the big difference here is that anyone that is following you can still see your Tweets and profile information.  Sooo for now my Twitter accounts are intact but at least I uninstalled TweetDeck from Google Chrome.  While TweetDeck is a great social media tool it can be hard to manage the Twitterverse.

Then I moved onto Facebook the biggest and baddest social networks around.  Facebook at least has the option to keep your information intact but deactivate your account temporarily.  It's nice keeping up with all your friends but let's be honest… Facebook is a blackhole.  It sucks away all your productive time and you can never really get that time back.

I thought deactivating my Facebook account would be easy… ahhh I was wrong.  I have several apps connected to my personal account and no other contributors.  You can't deactivate the account and keep the Apps active without switching having an Administrator for the Apps that has a verified account.   That means to deactivate the account I might need to get a prepaid phone to use with a dummy account or just ask someone to transfer use the apps.

Then came all the social bookmarking sites I have used.  Damn, I've used a lot and a lot of them I never really understood or generated much traffic for me.  This includes Reddit, Delicious, Tumblr, and more.  Is it even worth time to delete those accounts?

So my goal of not using social media was a bit harder than I imagined it would be.  It is all to easy to sign-up for these services but all too hard to truly leave.  It is not in the best interest of the Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. if you stop using their services.

Even though all these social networks can be quite useful used in the right way a lot of people try to contact me through it instead of just sending me an email.  I am just not really a fan of that as it takes a whole lot of time for me to direct message rather than just use my email.  I guess that's old school but hey, I still get emails from Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Bottom line not using social media at all nowadays is damn hard these days.  I wish it was possible to click a few buttons to just take a break but that ain't possible my friends.

Have a similar story of trying to disconnect temporarily or permanently from social networking?  Please share your story in the comments below.  I'd be curios to hear stories and I know others would as well.