Facebook, a social network with over 955 million users, this week admitted that 83 million accounts, 8.7% of active users, are fake. That’s a big number, to be sure, and headline-driven analysis would make you think that it spells doom for the now public company.
Over at Social Fresh they called the number misleading. Why? Because what Facebook called false accounts (seriously, guys, you need a better PR team) are actually broken into three categories: duplicate accounts (4.8%), misclassified personal profiles for pets and businesses (2.4%), and malicious fakes (1.5%).
Investors may be wary, but for anyone using Facebook as part of their internet marketing strategy, it just doesn’t matter. Because if you’re using Facebook the way it was meant to be used, to build community, then engaging with customers and preventing fan churn is more important than just getting page Likes.
Why Fake Accounts Don’t Matter for Your Profile
Your business profile can have 1 million Likes, and maybe some of those Likes are from Oscar Lord Tubbington Roman, but if you’re not getting users to like, share or comment on your updates, then your Facebook strategy isn’t working. Success on Facebook is measured not by the number of fans you have, but rather by the number of engaged fans you have. All the fake accounts in the world are no excuse for failing to provide your fans with interesting content.
Why Fake Accounts Don’t Matter for Advertising
If there’s one thing we learned from the Ford/GM Facebook advertising smackdown earlier this year, it’s that you should treat ads as a community building tool, not traditional PPC. GM sucked at this. Ford didn’t.
When advertising on Facebook, it generally makes more sense to advertise to your existing fans and their friends than it does to advertise to everyone. Facebook has those options built into the system. I’m sure there are PPC success stories from Facebook, but I would guess that most of those stories end with a connection (subscribe, sign-up for an account, etc.), rather than buying something outright. Otherwise, your advertising investment should focus on Sponsored Stories and Promoted Posts to build your Facebook community or engage with fans who missed an update.
The 83 million false Facebook accounts are probably more a nuisance to Facebook than to your brand. Just remember, if you’re using Facebook to build an active community around your brand, it’s part of a bigger strategy and not the end game. Your community extends far beyond one social network… even one with only 872 million real accounts.