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Your Facebook Fanbase is Shrinking — Why This is A Good Thing

Social media purging is common on Twitter, where fake fans abound. Brands are panicking over fan bases declining, as deactivated and memorialized accounts are removed from Page like counts.

On March 12, Facebook does this in more earnest. 

Though chasing fan counts is silly, the plus side of showing a truer (lower) fan count is that your percentage reach and engagement rates suddenly look higher.

Will your page’s engagement rate decline? If you measure engagement (among many ways) as interactions/fans, then yes. If it’s interactions/reach, then no.

This is the model I suggest that breaks down what factors drive your engagement
Screen-Shot-2014-02-22-at-11.56.38-AM-1024x203

You can tracing fan base all the way through to stories told. Intermediate factors are reach, engagement rate, ads factor, applause ratio, and stories per user.

From your active fan base, you consider how many you can reach, then get to engage. In the same way that interactions are more important than reach, total reach is more important than your fan base.

So if you’re worried about this drop — perhaps a boss or client is freaking out — you’re looking at the wrong metrics.

PGUM7j_g_400x400Big follower numbers are the easiest success metrics for “the boss” to understand in social marketing. But it’s time for us to teach the boss that smaller, passionate communities create more value for the business. -Jason Keath, SocialFresh

Here is what Facebook has to say about this change:

We’re removing voluntarily deactivated and memorialized accounts from Pages’ like counts to ensure that Page audience metrics are meaningful and consistent. As a result, you may notice a dip in your aggregate Page likes in early-March. This change does not affect organic or paid distribution of your content.

FAQ’s (from Facebook)
Q: Why were Page likes from inactive accounts included in the first place?

When people liked Pages originally, their accounts were active. Facebook is making this update to drive real business results and ensure our metrics are consistent.

Q: Will organic reach increase once likes from deactivated accounts are removed?

Thanks to this update, Page likes reflect all fans whose Facebook accounts are active. This does not affect organic reach on an absolute basis, nor does it affect the long term decline in organic reach of Page posts.

Q: Why does my Page have more likes removed than others?

The number of inactive account likes that are removed varies by Page. On average, the older a like, the more likely it is to be associated with an inactive account.

Q: If a fan whose account was deactivated subsequently reactivates their account, will their like be re-added to the Page’s like tally?

Yes, if a person reactivates their account on Facebook, their Page likes will once again be counted.

Q: My Page unlikes recently increased. Is that related to this update? Should I expect that to continue?

We began testing this update in late February and you may have seen an increase in Page unlikes as a result. However, the primary change will rollout ~March 12/13.

Q: How will this change be reflected in Page Insights?

The number of deactivated likes will show up in Page Insights as an increase in Page unlikes and a corresponding decrease in overall Page likes. There will not be a break-out of unlikes associated with inactive accounts. Expect to see the primary change ~March 12/13

Readers: What do you think of this decision?

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