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Why the Facebook cull of page likes isn't a bad thing

Ah, Facebook peeps, you gotta love 'em. If only because that without their incessant knee-jerk reactions to Facebook updates, I wouldn't get to write awesome-o posts like this. And it really is awesome-o, as you shall see.

If you're a Facebook page owner, or even if you're just a regular ol' Facebook user, chances are you've seen some panic, outrage and posts along the lines of
You may have even sent out or received pleas from page owners, imploring you to like more of their posts or comment on them to make sure their updates still show up in your feed.
 If you are a page owner and you have been doing this, then I have one word for you. 
And, yes, I know that technically that should be counted as two words, but as it's been abbreviated I'm counting it as one. So shush.
By now I'm sure you're probably up in arms, cursing Facebook for taking away your precious, precious page likes. But here's why you shouldn't be.
You've confused 'deactivated' with 'inactive'
Facebook have said that they're only removing likes that were from deactivated and memorialised accounts. So, what does this actually mean?

  • Deactivated refers to accounts where people have voluntarily closed down their Facebook accounts. What it doesn't mean is people who infrequently log in to their account. Those accounts are still classed as being active.
  • Memorialised refers to accounts where the person has died. Yup, that's right, it's a ghost account. This is an ex-Facebooker.
Now that we've got that cleared up, what you're probably thinking now is "but why have they got to remove them? Why can't they just leave them? They're not doing any harm!"
Oh, but they are.
These dormant accounts are screwing with your stats. I'm sure for most of you, the purpose of having a Facebook Page is to interact and obtain new likers, possibly in the hopes that they will buy something from you. And people will only buy from you if they can actually interact with your page. Unfortunately, neither dead people nor non-existent people can buy your stuff. Sad but true. So all your hard-earned effort is falling on deaf ears.
If you think of it another way, these likes are not real. They're empty. Zombie likes. A moment in time from a distant past.

So let's do some maths. Don't worry, it's not tricky maths, just some demonstration maths.

  • Scenario 1: You have 100 likes. Unbeknownst to you, 25 of those are from deactivated and memorialised accounts, so every time you post it's only reaching 75 people. Now, of those 75 alive and active accounts, chances are some will be by people who don't really log in every day. Maybe they log in once a week or so. So lets say that 25 of those 75 likes are from the less-active accounts. That leaves you with 50 people seeing your post, out of 100 likes. That's a 50% reach for your posts. Not great.
  • Scenario 2: You have 100 likes. Facebook removes those 25 deactivated and memorialised accounts from your page like totals, so that leaves you with 75 page likes. Now, as before, a small portion of those are from less-active accounts (25), so this still leaves us with only 50 people seeing our posts. However, thanks to the power of maths (GO MATHS!), because our total is only 75 likes, if only 50 people see those posts then that leaves us with a 66.67% reach. Woo! 
OK, I'm sure some of you are looking at that 66.67% and going "what's the big deal?" And I'm sure I've lost some of you too. But just by removing those 25 dead (in one way or another) accounts, we've increased our reach by almost 17%. This is a good thing! We no longer have inflated, bogus numbers. When you look into your stats and insights, you will start getting a clearer picture on what times your audience is online, what type of posts they interact with and other goodies. Which, in turn, will mean you can start tweaking your posts to suit your audience, which means they will start interacting more, which means that those 25 less-active accounts will start seeing your posts more often in their news feeds. Which means that your reach percentage will go up. Yay! GO STATS!

So, now that you've read this I hope that you can see that the sky isn't falling down over in Facebook Land and that zombies in any form are a bad thing. Especially zombie likes. They're the worst.

(If you're really interested/bored, you can read the official Facebook update over on their news page.)


Resuscitators website by Bad Day Design

If you like your music on the punk side of things, then have a listen to Resuscitators. Mixing elements of skate punk and your more trad punk rock, these guys know how to party!
Can normally be found in the seedier clubs and pubs around Kingston, London.