What you see may not mean what you think it means – Facebook Public Stats

Apr 25, 2012   //   by Raylene   //   Blog, Facebook  //  6 Comments

A nasty thing that happens around the internet is buying likes or follows. It’s never a good idea to buy likes or follows, in my opinion. Doing so falsely inflates your audience, and leaves you with a disconnected group of people, leading to very little genuine and useful interaction or engagement.

This conversation goes through the social media channels from time to time, and there’s a specific conversation I wanted to address. Some bloggers are being accused of buying their likes and being fakes, based on publicly available Facebook statistics.

From the blog post starting the conversation:

…when you see [in the LIKES tab of the Facebook page’s statistics] cities outside of the US are the most popular for a blogger, it kind of lets you know that they bought their likes. Like an Atlanta Blogger whose top city is Colombo, Sri Lanka. Oh Colombo, Sri Lanka is another top liking place for a big Canadian blogger!…

I always wondered how one of these bloggers got so big so quickly! And now I know!! She bought them!

…it needs to be shown that people are not honest with their blog stats. Maybe they are doing this to get more opportunities, or just to appear to be one of the big names out there. Blogging is a competitive area, and some have worked hard to get their traffic and stats up the natural way, some just want to take the easy way.

Now you have a way to know, unless you know a blogger is an International Superstar, if they are buying their likes or not.

Likes Tab on a Facebook Page - shows how many LIKES a page has. If you click this tab, you can see a few statistics about the Page.

Likes Tab on a Facebook Page - shows how many LIKES a page has. If you click this tab, you can see a few statistics about the Page.

Unless of course, they are being honest, not buying their likes, and they really are actual International Superstars! Which is possible! There’s simply no way to tell from the “Most Popular City”!

The “Most Popular City” statistic referenced in the post is “the city where most of the people talking about this page are from”, and that is one of the statistics publicly available on every Facebook page. If you click the “LIKES” tab, you’ll be able to see a few statistics about the Page, including “Most Popular City”.

Publicly available Facebook Page Statistics

Publicly available Facebook Page Statistics

If the “Most Popular City” is based on the People Talking About This (PTAT) stat, that city’s popularity is only based on the last 7 days of information. It would change from time to time based on promotions being offered, etc.

In addition, the “Most Popular City” stat may tell you VERY LITTLE about the actual readership and user-base of the page.

For instance, I know a blogger who’s “Most Popular City” is in a country that represents only 3.6% of her total LIKES. The “Most Popular City” does NOT tell me that 75% of her LIKES are in another country altogether… My own personal blog (not my business one) would show Kelowna, BC, as my top city, while my #1 country is the USA. Kelowna happens to have 2 more visits than the next city, which is Idleyld Park, OR. The point here being that Kelowna is the most popular at this moment, but it doesn’t represent my overall visits, or likes, very well.

Assuming that the “Most Popular City” would be a good indication of overall LIKES is simply not good use of social media metrics.

Also, you need to think about BASIC internet usage……. For instance, Indians are online WAY more than anyone else except the US (there are just more of them!!).

socialbakers keeps updated stats on Facebook use by country, including info from the last week: http://www.socialbakers.com/facebook-statistics/?interval=last-week#chart-intervals and the top 5 Facebook using nations in the last 7 days are:
1. United States
2. India
3. Brazil
4. Indonesia
5. Mexico

And based on whoever around the world has picked up your info recently, the geographic area of interest can change considerably, week to week, month to month, etc… Someone with a broad worldwide reach may very well have interesting stats, such as the ones pointed out in the original blog post.

This week Coca Cola’s most popular city is Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia. Do we doubt those are real users? Probably not.

So, I have to ask beingalison, the original blogger, a few questions to clarify things:

Do you know the bloggers who you are making these accusations about personally?

Are there other things going on surrounding their blogs and/or Facebook pages that would cause them to be suspect in this way?

Have you even spoken to them personally?

Have you asked to see their statistics specifically from whatever demographic or geographic location you are most interested in?

Have you considered whether these bloggers represent themselves as specifically being from one country over and above another, or do they service a worldwide audience, regardless of their own geographic location?

Have you seen a representative sample of information from the Facebook Pages of OTHER bloggers with the same kind of focus and overall audience from their Facebook pages to support the claim of false likes on these ones?

How would you go about quantifying that classification (bloggers with the same kind of focus and overall audience), to ensure that you were grouping an appropriate set of bloggers to compare?

Examine Your AssumptionsThere is more to social media metrics than meets the eye. The publicly available stats on Facebook are meant for broad comparison purposes only. What you see on some of those statistics may not mean what you think they mean. Assumptions based on only a little information can prove incorrect and embarrassing.


{My images and captions have gone a bit crazy since my last site upgrade. I’m working on getting them figured out. Thanks for your patience and understanding.}


  • Good Post! How do you hide those statistics from the public? Such as most popular city?

  • Jake, unfortunately there is no way to hide those statistics. Facebook has made that info public and there’s not a way to change it. Bummer, eh? But it also allows us to glean some info from competitors or from people who are doing really well. 🙂

    • This is not true. I have found a number of pages that do not display their “most popular city”. Here’s one for example https://www.facebook.com/downtread/likes

      Anyone know how to do this???

      • I’ve never seen this on any pages, JJ, so right now I’m stumped as to why the most popular city is not showing up on their Likes. I’ll investigate, though! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  • Raylene,

    You touch on a very important topic for people to realize. Very often I’ve seen medium-sized brands with a budget purchase fans to make their brand look more credible. This was right around the time of your post that I saw this quite often.

    Fast forward to now when the social platforms are getting rid of fake profiles, and I am seeing quick declines in numbers of likes on a page. It’s interesting to watch. Did the investment pay off for those brands??

    Growing an authentic fan/follower base is the way to go! On Facebook, it assures a more authentic EdgeRank score, and makes it easier, in the long-run, to keep placement in fan news feeds. On Twitter, you assure that the “checkers” don’t rat you out as a “faker.”

    A good social media strategy and effective execution will assure growth of super-fans, which is what the platforms are all about. The quality of brand evangelists will be higher.

    Your post outlines many points relevant to the point that social media is a long-term investment in your company’s brand existence. Nice job!! 🙂


    • Two phrases running around about this topic RIGHT NOW: 1) Cheaters never win, and winners never cheat. and 2) Quality over quantity!

      The venues for our conversations may change, but the same rules still apply. Authenticity and the ‘real’ factor are still hugely important in customer relations.

      Thanks for your comment, Keri, and for featuring “Off the Wall Social Media” this week!!

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