What We Learned From Social Count Experiments : Twitter is the Good Guy; Facebook is Bad; G+ Just Doesn’t Matter

Respect Twitter. Facebook is Bad. But You Just Can’t Ignore It. Google Plus Just Doesn’t Matter.
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We conduct a lot of experiments on NextBigWhat – right from ‘hacking Twitter accounts’ to gutsy event pricing (Entry is Free; Exit is NOT) to thoughtful event networking badges.

Continuing the experimentation mode, we have been conducting a few experiments on social media and here is what we have found:

Twitter is the Good Guy.
Facebook is Bad. But You Just Can’t Ignore It.
Google Plus Just Doesn’t Matter.

First the backstory
In the new world of social media, a brand’s perception is driven by number of Facebook likes and Twitter followers. I personally believe that this is wrong. This isn’t even close to the reality of a business, but perceptions are perceptions!

That’s why we decided to start couple of interesting experiments on social media. Here is what we did:

– We bought Twitter followers and Facebook likes (using Fiverr). We didn’t do it on our personal account, because of obvious reason – the real use-case of fake counts is on brand properties.

And the result? Here is what we noticed:

– Twitter : No perceived impact. It didn’t really improve anything. What we also observed is the reason why businesses do not care much about Twitter counts.

There is NO other (publicly exposed) metric that Twitter offers to brand managers that they can boast about or put in powerpoints.

And that’s precisely why Twitter has very little monetization value for brands, beyond #hashtag engagement.

What about Facebook?

They have got it right. Right for brand managers and marketers. Too bad for others.

We just bought a few Facebook likes and here is what we noticed:

facebook-engagement
facebook

“The Number of People Talking About” – the only public metric that Facebook exposes (beyond likes) went up by 4X! I mean, imagine ! Just because you have bought some like, the metric also has increased.

What really happened? Is there a magical hard-coded formula that Facebook has?

And, what about Google+? Well, we are on SUL (Suggested User List) of Google+ and even my personal account is on SUL list. And here is what I get on an average day (plus, sometimes a video call somebody wants to have with me and virendra sehwag)

GooglePlus is the new Orkut
GooglePlus is the new Orkut

Does MORE Translate Into MORE?

Not in social media, atleast.

The follower/like counts mean nothing. We didn’t see any astronomical change in the traffic coming from social media. In fact, if you are a brand manager – you gotta be more cautious about what are sold (by agencies).

TL;DR

To summarize (TL;DR = Too Long Didn’t Read):

– Twitter hasn’t reached a point where the follower count matters – we added a lot more followers to Twitter and didn’t see any other metric went up. In fact, the *once-upon-a-time* standard, i.e. Klout also gets nothing (not that they ever did / pun intended).

– Facebook has created a ‘Like’ economy and continues to build monetization on it. They have created this entire perception that ‘Like = BIG’. People believe in it and Facebook just pumps up to its advantage (including the news feed algo). It’s dangerous, but you can’t ignore Facebook!

– Google Plus? Just doesn’t matter. It’s the new Orkut. That’s it. We really don’t know why brands should care about Google Plus (except for perceived search result advantage).


Social media is about engagement and NOT about counts. We were planning to do more experiments, but the social media buzz about ‘fake followers’ prompted us to write this.

As a matter of policy, we don’t even showcase the social media numbers on the site homepage. We just don’t think it matters.

But for the audience out there, don’t judge a brand by its likes. It’s a GIGO model.

And to Facebook, the question is : Why Did You Show 4X engagement on Fake Likes?

PS: For those who cried foul, thank you. We are glad you noticed!

PPS : We continue to do our own experiments and looking to hire a data team to handle some of these experiments. Apply if you are interested (team@nextbigwhat.com)!

Next Experiment on Social Media? Well, it revolves around the Happy Singh phenomena.

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