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For a couple of years now dear reader, I have been presenting the mathematics of Facebook at marketing events. Each time I invite members of the audience to challenge them and put me straight, to make sure the numbers are correct. But nobody questions the numbers. They just nod in agreement.

Recently I’ve also replied to sales pitches from alleged Facebook experts in my inbox, and replied by inviting their assistance – with no response. But as you know, marketing automation doesn’t allow you to fake sincerity. So I don’t know if my messages have been received and ignored, or not received at all, due to the weaknesses prevalent in most marketing automation systems. That is, when you reply to a message, it gets lost in cyber-space because humans do not monitor the computers.

One issue I have with the numbers, is that I have to rely on Facebook – take it at Facevalue so to speak – when it comes to statistics. And as one of the most dishonest brands when it comes to user statistics, the numbers given out by Facebook always feel dodgy. After all FB regularly claims to have more users in an age demographic, than the living population of that demographic.

Last week folks, Facebook announced its fake accounts to be 270 million – way more than it alleged only a week earlier. Many suspect the real number of fake accounts to be much higher. It’s why so many marketers refer to FB as:

The figure for inactive accounts appears to be unknown. I have at least 3 inactive accounts that are still sitting idle and get the occasional view – according the the FB bots that notify me.

Interestingly, every teenager I know – mates of my kids – has at least one fake FB account. They use the account to log-in to games and other sites that force you to use FB to log-in. The kids don’t post to the account. The account names are fictitious. They only use the accounts for log-ins. So they are active accounts, just not socially active. Who knows how many millions of these false accounts exist around the planet? One can only assume they are included in FB’s statistics of active accounts?

So here’s the maths for you – all numbers are alleged, and taken from reputable online sources:

Total monthly active accounts = 2,000,000,000

Less fake accounts = 270,000,000

Less business accounts = 100,000,000

Less ad blockers (the single biggest consumer protest in history) = 700,000,000

Leaves alleged active accounts = 930,000,000

Percentage of users an ad on FB can reach is way less than 5%, but say 10%.

Advertising Reach = 93,000,000

Maximum engagement (Forrester and others) = 0.7%, but say 1%

Active engagement = 930,000

930,000/2,000,000,000 = 0.00465

So average active engagement = less than half of one percent!!!

This is less than an unaddressed letterbox leaflet.

That’s not so say FB won’t pay for itself, but it’s not viable for all brands or categories.

I have a number of clients who find it pays and others that don’t – it’s horses for courses. And FB is rarely the primary media channel for doing business. It’s just another channel you test and learn, then use if it works profitably.

I welcome any input into the numbers please. Also suggest you read the Ad Contrarian, Bob Hoffman for some more facts and revelations.

Gotta go – need to post this blog to reach the handful of humans who will actively engage with it on FB…