Posted by : Amitha Amarasinghe Thursday, April 25, 2013

In several client meetings I’ve attended, and occasionally at some social media workshops and conferences, I’m hearing this common sentiment of ‘fake Facebook Profiles’ over and over again. Many marketing professionals raise their eyebrows first, when they hear that there are 1.5 Facebook users in Sri Lanka, and their next reaction is denial. “No… that cannot be… Maybe most of them are just fake accounts”.

I’ve noticed, in many occasions I deliver lectures or webinars on this topics, one of the most popular questions asked is “now, what percentage of those Facebook accounts are actually real?”.

While I agree on the fact that there can be a certain percentage of fake or inactive accounts within that 1.5million count, but my point is this isn’t the right question to ask! Come on… You know the number is 1.5 million, you know it’s going to grow at least by another 500,000 accounts within next 8 months. So, why waste time by trying to perfect your data?

Let’s say that there are a certain percentage of fake profiles on Facebook, but you wouldn’t say it’s 50% or at least even 30%, right? How many of us are questioning the TV reach statistics published by various market research firms, before we make decisions to spend millions on those TV channels? Any brand manager (and their seniors) in Sri Lanka will easily approve a media budget of over 5 Million rupees, without any hesitation, solely just dependent on ‘estimated’ ratings and reach statistics published by these research agencies. So why we are so worried about 7% or 10% fake accounts on Facebook when it comes to a decision of spending even less than 1% of the amount you spend on TV?

Forget about the silly questions of fake accounts vs. real accounts, but here are some of the important questions you need to ask yourself before spending even a rupee on Facebook.

1. Can I really reach my target audience on Facebook?

or, am I going on Facebook just because everyone else is doing so?

2. Do I have a clear call to action for my campaign?

Unlike your TV campaign, Facebook ads won’t just build passive awareness. People can actively engage with your ad. So, what do you offer them to engage with?

3. How am I going to re-engage them?

Do you have a compelling Facebook page with attractive content to keep your fans coming back? If you have, you don’t have to go for another paid ad campaign next time, to reach them (or at least you will have to spend less than 50% of your original budget).

If you don’t have clear answers for above three questions, it doesn't even matter even if 100% of the Facebook accounts are real. The money you are going to spend on Facebook ads will simply go down the drain, and you wouldn't even notice a difference between putting that money into your TV budget or to Facebook.

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