Andy Fenstermaker, MBA

Marketing, Bikes, Social, Music, Blogging, Personal Finance, More.

Is Your Competition Buying Its Likes?

The other day, I stumbled upon a little-known trick that can help Facebook Page admins analyze how they are doing in comparison to their competition. It’s all about how many people Like your page and your competition’s page, and analyzing that data as a performance benchmark.

But first, a quick disclaimer: I have yet to delve into Facebook’s “Pages to Watch” section as paranoia gets the better of me. Too many questions go unanswered — could Facebook one day inform Page admins of who is watching their page as encouragement to lure them into watching others? Given Facebook’s past with privacy, I’m continuing to hold off in those regards.

I digress.

What Your Competition’s Page Likes Can Tell You

Looking at the page of a competing blog, I was curious to understand why their page had so many more likes than mine. Clicking the “Likes” Tab (i.e. not “Likes” under the Page name) brought me to a page featuring a few insights about those likes. Here’s what this exposes to your competition:

1. Your Most Popular Week: The week when most people were talking about your Page. This includes any of that ever popular “reach” data and includes new Likes.

2. Most Popular City: The city where most people are talking about this Page.

3. Most Popular Age Group: Age demographic information on people talking about the Page.

4. Most Visited Week: The week during which the highest number of people checked in at that location.

And a few other items…

Analyzing The Competition

Now here’s where things get interesting. In questioning why this competitor had so many more likes that my Page, I noticed something astonishing and potentially quite revealing. Their most popular city was not just out of the country, it was from a place highly unlikely to generate that much discussion on the topic in question. My conclusion: It is highly probable the Page purchased these likes thus generating wildly skewed and somewhat deceiving results.

Another insight that led me to this deduction was the page’s engagement. Despite having a similar amount of posts, engagement too is fairly similar. This tells me that a much smaller percentage of people are engaging with their Page in comparison to mine.

Changes Over Time

A few weeks have passed and I’ve kept an eye on things. From South Africa to India, their “Most Popular City” eventually returned to the states.

This tells me a few things. First, maybe they didn’t buy their Likes; maybe they just aren’t influencing their target demographic. This is entirely possible, based on a review of their wall. Or maybe they’re posts have poor timing.

Either way, it’s not good.

More Harm Than Good

Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm tells the company how relevant content is to a viewer and dictates what shows up in fan feeds. Buying a slew of likes, then, may do more harm in a Page’s ability to show up in a feed. But that’s not all…

As Google and other search engines start placing more and more social proof into their page ranking consideration, seeing irrelevant Likes from overseas is likely to go the route of link building via guest blogging: Quality guest blogging is OK but guest blogging for SEO sake is not. Don’t be surprised if social proof re: Likes goes the same route in the very near future.

For further reading, check out this article by Jon Loomer on why you shouldn’t buy Likes.

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