Has Facebook's clean up affected brands?

Nearly three months after Facebook declared its intent to actively clean up fake 'likes', marketers say the move has had minimal impact on brands.

Earlier this year, Facebook in a blog post said it will remove fake 'likes' gained by "malware, compromised accounts, deceived users, or purchased bulk ‘likes'."

According to Ryan Lim, business director of Blugrapes, some of the tracked brand pages suffered an average drop of about 1% to 2% in the total number of likes due to Facebook's active culling.

However, many Small and Medium Enterprises or SMEs saw a much higher drop in the number of likes as a result of the move.

Suresh Ramaswamy, regional director-Social, Leo Burnett Group Singapore too said that few brand which had over 50,000 fans on Facebook saw some decline.

"But in all cases the loss was less than 1%. Facebook likes are fleeting, so a 1% loss of fan base is not a big deal," he added.

Ramaswamy suggested brands to focus on social content and experiences that prompt conversations and the likes will follow.

Keith Timimi, chairman of VML Qais added that when looking for fan acquisition, marketers should be very scrupulous and use their own channels and the advertising services that platform offers.

"Contests with big giveaways will naturally grow your percentage of fake likes, so they should only be used sparingly."

As these purges continue to intensify, marketers can expect to see "similar programs get up and running targeting spammers and fake-number-builders at Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and the like," Timimi added.

However, not all experts lauded the move. Pat Law, managing director of Goodstuph said it was difficult to say if Facebook actively weeded out fake likes as there are "no signs of reactive strategy undertaken by brands who have bought fake likes."

To illustrate further, Law says even if Facebook removes 50% of a brand's fan base that happens to be dubious, "it doesn't stop the brand from doubling up their media investment on Facebook just so as to recoup that base.

She added if brand advocacy is what a brands are looking to build, they need to look beyond simply adding on likes on Facebook.