The Like Explosion: What Happened?

Posted by Brad, CEO

Facebook is at it again. Literally overnight, Facebook Pages in Higher Ed have seen unprecedented growth out of nowhere. It started with a call from Scott Kilmer at Abilene Christian University, who noted that his page had grown from 12,500 likes to over 30,000 overnight. Joe from BlueFuego took a deeper glimpse into his research, the most comprehensive in the industry, showed that is not an isolated situation.

Last week I presented with Diane McDonald from Texas A&M about last year’s Race to 100K with LSU, and we talked about a potential Race to 200K.

Well, so much for that. Texas A&M isn’t even in the Top 5 anymore. Sadly, schools that have done much of nothing with their Facebook presence are now benefiting from what first appeared to be a glitch, but is looking less like that as the hours go on.

Here’s the previous Top 10 (as of 6/1) and the percentage they jumped overnight:

(Click to Enlarge)

There’s not much rhyme or reason.  TAMU grew 2.3%.  The Ohio State University grew 250%. LSU saw a nice bump as well.

It’s easy for “experts” to look at a list of the largest pages and proclaim them as the best pages, but we know that Fans/Likes is only one metric of many to use when determining who’s truly doing it well. We’ll be releasing more about this through the summer.

Take a look below at the research and leave a comment with your thoughts on where Facebook has merged these Fans/Likes from, if they opted in, etc. We will later report how this will affect engagement with the BlueFuego Formula.

(If you are reading this in email, you might need to click here to see the slides.)

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  1. I would look at how the Ohio State likes tracked against their YouTube video that went viral with a flashmob at their student union building. I’m a Penn Stater, not prone to saying great things about Ohio State, but I know I tweeted about it and posted it to FB. It has close to 1.4 million views at

  2. OMG, I think I figured out it out. People who listed Emory University as their school were linked to a generic community page. On that page was an option to ‘Suggest an Official Facebook Page’ for that community. If they do link it up, the Emory page will go from 6000 to 48,000 in one click. AHHH!!!!! If you look at UGA, people who list it as their school are linked to the official UGA Facebook public profile now, not a generic community page. Whoa. Huge.

  3. Facebook seems a bit schizophrenic when it comes to the display of these new likers/fans.

    On our page, it shows some 18,000 fans now, but if I click through to my insights, it’s still in the 3,200 range, as it was before the mass influx of fans.

    Also, if I search on my institution, the number that displays in the search results for our page is the lower one, not the newly inflated one.

    Still no clue where these new fans came from – it’s not like they merged them from a community page – those only had fans in the double digits.

    Doing a lot of our own research now to put the pieces together, and again wishing that Facebook would be more up front about major changes like this.

  4. This is disconcerting to me, actually. As the @uflorida manager, I have been very careful to not dramatically increase our fans with gimmicks in order to hopefully add more thoughtful, relevant folks who (in theory) really do care about the university. Now that we’re over 280k, I’m concerned. Should I be?

  5. Our insight page still reflects our Fan # (53,000) rather than our likes (260,000)

    The real question is how many more people, if any, are seeing our updates in their feed? These numbers are meaningless if we aren’t actually reaching/interacting with these folks.

  6. The numbers are a bit odd. For example, in the search results, it says The Ohio State University has 87,088 likes, while on the Page itself, it says that it has 281,799 likes.

    While this may be the merging of community pages, affiliations, and more, I wouldn’t be surprised if this ended up being a data glitch at Facebook.

  7. Just a quick update — Here is an official statement from Facebook.

    “We are aware of the problem that you described and apologize for the inconvenience. Unfortunately, we do not have a specific date for when this issue will be resolved but hope to fix it as soon as possible. We appreciate your patience.”

    So we will potentially see things reversed shortly! Enjoy your fans while you have them, if you experienced the bump! It sounds like they will be disappearing soon :)

  8. Nicole – Where your community page reads “You can also get us started by suggesting the Official Facebook Page.” Our community page reads “You can also get us started by suggesting a relevant Wikipedia article or the Official Site.”

  9. What I found in digging around this issue was that when I added say Ohio State University to my personal profile (as if I attended that school), I got several options. When I selected “The Ohio State University”, it didn’t connect me to their community page (populated by Wikipedia) but their official facebook page. That is not the case with the school I work for – Ohio University. The only option there is Ohio University’s community page which is fed by Wikipedia (and now has nearly 100,000 likes as compared to our official page that has just over 17,000). Very frustrating.

    To add to this strangeness, when I add Ohio University as an employer, I get an entirely different page with about 1400 fans.

    I don’t think this feature was quite ready for prime time and if someone has some answers or ideas, I would be thrilled to hear them!

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