Help! Where have my Facebook fans gone?!

Back in March, Facebook announced that is was going to start removing “inactive” fans from the overall counts on brand pages. Predictably, business page owners around the world started to panic.

Much to the astonishment of my staff (and some of my co-workers), I clapped. Why? To put it simply, all of my clients were about to receive real insight into their audience. And from real insight, sales can be born.

When we market our brand and our business to the Facebook public, we only really want people who are engaged with what we offer and will ultimately buy from us. It can be easy to desire large number of fans on your brand page—and, to an extent, having a sizeable following is a good trust signal to send out to potential fans, so that they recognise your brand page as official.

However, when strategies become based solely on numbers of fans, we reach that messy stage that prompted Facebook to scrutinise the quality of a page’s fan base. For now, Facebook has removed fans whose profiles evidence no recent activity on all levels. I can see this extending to fans whose profiles don’t interact with a page’s updates, even if they remain active elsewhere.

This leads me the next point: we’ve lived through the “like farm” craze, which has very nearly died its death. Paid-for Facebook promotions are far more genuine in intention than buying likes from unscrupulous third parties, because the myriad targeting options make it more likely that your brand and product chimes with the new fans that you acquire.
So, why should you not fret about your loss of fans? Well, first of all, you’ll have a much clearer view of your engagement rates (which are likely to suddenly shoot up), because your calculation of likes, shares and comments relative to fans served impressions is based on a correct and lower number of fans.

Secondly. Facebook has a great “lookalike audience” profile builder, which will allow you to find similar people to your defined target audience. It follows that basing this similar profile on genuinely active fans will only generate further returns.

Thirdly, do you really want your business decisions to be based on vanity metrics such as “how many likes do I have this week?”, or harder metrics such as “how many of my fans have pushed my brand out to their own connections?”—or, dare, I suggest it, “how many of my fans have purchased from me?”

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