Last week the BBC got very excited about an investigation into Facebook by Rory Cellan-Jones, a Technology correspondent.

The article claimed that some companies are ‘wasting large sums of money’ trying to win ‘Likes’ on Facebook.  This appears to be because when a campaign was run for a British-based business, the company ended up winning ‘Likes’ from countries as far away as the Phillipines and Egypt.

Cellan-Jones quotes Michael Tinmouth, a ‘social media marketing consultant’ [Did he really have to call him that, it’s hard enough winning credibility…!]:

He ran Facebook advertising campaigns for a number of small businesses, including a luxury goods firm and an executive coach.  At first, his clients were pleased with the results. But they became concerned after looking at who had clicked on the adverts.

While they had been targeting Facebook users around the world, all their “likes” appeared to be coming from countries such as the Philippines and Egypt.

Well I’m sorry about this, but any fule kno that good marketing is targeted marketing.  It’s not the size of your fan base, but the quality that counts.

Facebook will deliver the best CTR you allow it to

The article reports that Facebook believe 5-6% of user profiles to be fake.  And the case above, while the campaign was poorly targeted, there is the suggestion that Facebook may be skewing its advertising so that regions that are more likely to click on ads are more likely to see them.

There is nothing sinister going on here. Facebook is maximising their revenue within the parameters they have been given. In fact, when you set up an ad on Facebook you are specifically asked if you want to ‘Show this ad to people who are most likely to like my page‘.

Online advertising platforms work on your behalf

This isn’t new.  Google will automatically select your ads with the highest Click Through Rates (CTR) and display them in front of audiences most likely to click on them (based on what they know about that users’ activity).  Facebook is only doing the same thing.

Do developing nations deliver better CTR?

Many advertisers theorise that developing countries are less exposed to commercial messages and more likely to respond to advertising.

If your target group includes Eqypt, the Philippines or similar countries, as well as the UK, then it’s likely that a higher proportion of your fans will come from there as the CTR will be higher.

The moral – caveat emptor (and always, always target your market)

By Iain Martin