As former television news reporter, I know a thing or two about popularity contests. They’re a big part of the business — and they get in the way of real, meaningful work. The same goes for social media.
Many marketers spend a lot of time sweating follower counts and page likes. Those folks probably had a panic attack this week when they saw a dip in the number of likes on their Facebook brand pages.
As Facebook explains on its business blog, the company is updating the way page likes are counted by removing memorialized and voluntarily deactivated accounts from the total count.
Memorialized accounts — sometimes grimly referred to as “zombie accounts” — are accounts where the original creator has died and someone has requested Facebook repurpose the account so it lives on as a place for people to remember and celebrate their friend or loved one.
Up until now, if that person liked your page while they were living, when they passed away the like didn’t die with them — it remained part of your total page likes forever. Same went for voluntarily deactivated accounts.
Since these types of accounts can no longer interact with your page — Facebook decided to cut them from your count. The company explains the benefits this way:
“Removing inactive Facebook accounts from Page audience data gives businesses up-to-date insights on the people who actively follow their Page and makes it easier for businesses to find people like their followers through tools like lookalike audiences … We already filter out likes and comments generated by deactivated or memorialized accounts from individual Page posts, so this update keeps data consistent.”
The Facebook page I manage lost roughly 2% of our overall count. Other organizations are seeing similar cuts as a result of The Great Facebook Purge of 2015.
Those marketers (and even some journalists I know) who went the ugly route of paying for likes, may be seeing the worst of it. That’s because many of those services use these inactive accounts to boost numbers.
It’s just another example of why we need to leave the popularity contests behind in high school. We’re big boys and girls now. And grown-up marketers should know better than to base their merit on vanity metrics. Instead, focus should always be on creating active online communities. Measure how your content is received by your audiences. Are you effectively connecting with them? Fans who don’t interact with you aren’t helping you.
Build your social media strategy around growing engagement, and success will follow — no matter how many unused accounts are cut from your page.
Have you seen a decrease in the number of likes on your Facebook page? Tell me in the comments below!
Opinions are my own. They do not necessarily reflect those of my employers past or present.