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Facebook’s sneaky Trojan horse: You won’t ‘LIKE’ this!

This is a guest post by New Delhi-based social media consultant, Kartik Dayanand.

The writing is clearly on the wall: The Internet is up in arms against Facebook.

The biggest grouse being the way Facebook is scuttling the reach of status updates in the news feed. Enough has been written already about the topic and the voice of dissent is only growing by the day. The recent furor has served to confirm what everyone already suspected about the way Facebook’s notorious EdgeRank algorithm was hiding status updates.

In a smart move to counter this backlash, Facebook has launched a special news feed dedicated only to Pages. This should act as a soothing balm to the bruised egos and angry voices, but the reality is something else. This new Pages only feed is but a glorified version of the main news feed with the censoring of content still more or less intact! To call it a minor improvement would be overstating the case, but it does show, to a certain extent, that Facebook is listening. Maybe.

While reach of status updates is a major concern there are other problems that ail Facebook, some of which I discussed in detail in an older blog post of mine Meet the Enemy of the Internet! This was a post that I published six months ago and luckily for me it came alive once again because of it being featured here on Dangerous Minds.

Needless to say, traffic from Dangerous Minds to my site was fantastic and this in turn gave me a lot of additional data to substantiate what I had discussed in my earlier blog post.

The main issue of contention, apart from the apparent scuttling of status updates, is the battle between the SHARE and the LIKE buttons on our websites. These buttons are the primary marketing tools on every site and are supposed to help our readers share content to Facebook and in return we expect referral traffic coming from Facebook. That is the only reason why these buttons exist in the first place.

As I pointed out in my original blog post, the SHARE button, including the organic shares (links inside status updates) drove 95% of the referral traffic to my site from Facebook as opposed to the LIKE button which drove the remaining paltry 5% of the traffic. In a curious twist, Facebook decided to get rid of the SHARE button. Why did Facebook do that? The detailed reasons I gave in my previous exhaustive blog post about this, but to cut things short: Facebook hates it when you bring content from the outside, it tries its best to hide stuff that originates from outside the gated community of Facebook. (Photos, however, they, uh, “like” because you don’t have to leave Facebook to view them. This is why Facebook purchased Instagram).

I have gone through the traffic statistics of my blog for the last week since the moment that Dangerous Minds shared my post and below are the findings, taken from Facebook Insights, for my blog during that period. Mind you, during this period my site did not have the SHARE button on it, just the LIKE button. See for yourself what happened.

Organic Shares:
There were 159 people who shared my post “organically” on Facebook. That is, they posted the links to my blog in the status update box manually without the aid of any SHARE button residing on my site. These updates resulted in 32,496 impressions on Facebook and 452 people clicked those links on Facebook and landed back on my site. Somehow 32,496 impressions sounds very small considering that some pages that shared this post had followers in the thousands including Dangerous Minds which counts over 61,000 people who have “liked” its Facebook Page.

Like Button:
The LIKE button was displayed 20,020 times on my blog and 178 people clicked the LIKE button in that same time period. These LIKE’s are supposed to display in the news feed of the person clicking the LIKE button so that their friends can view the stories similar to the way SHARE buttons did earlier.

To my surprise I found out that the clicks on the LIKE button drove ZERO impressions on Facebook which in turn means no one saw those LIKE’s on Facebook and hence there was ZERO referral traffic back to my site. I wonder what would have happened if I had the SHARE button there in place of LIKE?

Nearly without exception—almost every one of us—the website/blog owners, have gotton rid of the SHARE button at some point of time in favor of the poorly functioning LIKE button, which can be seen to be suicidal for traffic. Those who still stuck with the old code of the SHARE button were brutally ambushed when Facebook discontinued technical support for it in its old form sometime earlier this year.

Do you smell a rat here?

I smell a Trojan horse.

PS: Think twice before you click LIKE below, you are better off SHARING this post rather than clicking LIKE, or maybe it’s best if you do both.

This has been a guest post by New Delhi-based social media consultant, Kartik Dayanand

You can catch him here:

Twitter: @KartikDayanand          
Facebook: Mind u Read

Posted by Richard Metzger



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