Does Facebook provide marketing value?

July 13, 2012 at 5:51 PM
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LONDON, July 13 (UPI) -- With brands and advertisers running to Facebook to promote wares and connect with consumers, the site's true marketing value is still debatable, experts say.

The BBC tested the effectiveness of the social network as a promotional tool by recently advertising a fictitious business on the site, reported Friday.

BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones spent $10 advertising a Facebook page for the company, dubbed Virtual Bagel.

The company page -- containing just an image of a bagel and an address reading Ealing, London -- had amassed 3,113 "likes" on Facebook by Friday.

The number of "likes" in countries such as Egypt and the Philippines was out of proportion to the countries the virtual company targeted, such as the United States and Britain, and Cellan-Jones also discovered a number of the accounts that "liked" VirtualBagel did not appear to be genuine.

The BBC contacted Facebook, which offered this response: "This doesn't represent the experience of most advertisers on Facebook. The examples that you have mentioned are really unusual and seem to be the result of some bad advertising practice."

"Looking at the test case you flagged -- the person has, for some reason, taken a scatter-gun approach to distributing their ads, sending them to multiple countries with little or no demographer targeting," Facebook said.

Facebook has estimated 5 percent to 6 percent of accounts created on the site may be fake, which would result in up to 50 million profiles.

However, "We don't see evidence of a 'wave of likes' coming from fake users or 'obsessive clickers,'" a Facebook spokesman told the BBC.

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