Let's set the wayback machine to 1993 when we used to track the number of "hits" to a website. At that time a website was simply an HTML file with text and a bunch of links between pages. A hit was counted every time one of the HTML pages was displayed in the Mosaic web browser. (Mosaic was the first web browser.)
The early internet engineers wanted to know how many times their pages were read, and they assumed each "hit" represented 1 person taking the time to actually read it. Those old counting system didn't consider that other file types, like images, would eventually get caught up in the hit counting.
Before anyone knew it, a page with 2 images was counting as 3 hits, and a page with 9 images was counting as 10 hits. This meant that two people visiting a page with 9 images would suddenly be 20 hits, rather than just 2. Thirty visitors would count as 300 hits.
These numbers got out of hand very quickly, and it took years before software was created to accurately report on the number of visitors using unique IP addresses rather than counting the number of file hits.
Now let's jump forward to 2003 when new website owners wanted to increase the traffic to their websites. Many SEO companies were preying on the uneducated and were guaranteeing the number of "hits" that would be brought to a website. Website owners were ecstatic to see 1,000,000 hits without every knowing that the process was automated to inflate the numbers.
The end result was that store owners saw no increase in the bottom line of their net income.
Regrettably, the term "hits" is still with us today because it's built into all tracking software. Just remember to ignore that number and look for the number of unique "visitors" instead. From that visitor number you should be able to extrapolate a correlation to your increased net income.
Now let's jump forward again, this time to 2011.
Many jewelers tell us that they would rather have sales from Facebook efforts instead of huge increases of the people who Like them. Many marketing companies create Facebook methods to gain sales, assuming that quantity of sales is tied to the number of Likes a Page has. Automated systems now exist that succeed in building large numbers of Likes, and many Facebook users really do seem to enjoy them.
We have a contrarian opinion of Facebook. We believe that there's a new, erroneous hit counter on the loose--the number of Likes to your Facebook Business Page.
Unfortunately, no one is willing to admit that Facebook just wants to be the place where people can be social, without automated spam advertising clutter.
In February 2012 we started our first serious dive into an ocean of collected data about Facebook and how that relates to the number of visitors to your site. We probably won't have conclusive data until mid June 2012. As we've been quietly monitoring our data other people are also starting to realize that something is wrong with the Facebook "f-commerce" model and methods of building a business.
One of the interesting things we've notice so far is that very few types of FB posts will bring a customer to your website from their favorite social network. It also seems like the jewelers we are working with are struggling to have more than 20 monthly referrals from Facebook to their website. What's even more surprising is that the jewelers with more Likes have consistently fewer numbers of referrers to their website.
In general, those jewelers with 3000 Likes have automated paid services to generate interest, and those with less than 1000 usually rely on a very manual process to interact with their customers.
Your website is where you can control your sales, not Facebook. Facebook is good for branding, but so far those 3000 Likes acquired through automation don't seem to correlate to an increased net income, in fact they appear to be working against you.
Stay tuned, we'll provide hard data as we work through it.