Social media is becoming an increasingly important method for tracking the popularity of a celebrity, show or movie, or other public figure. The number of fans on Facebook, or similar sites, is a fairly accurate gauge indicating what percentage of the general public enjoys what they have seen or heard. However, these numbers aren’t a fixed amount. They can rise and fall as people gain or lose interest. The reasons for these fluctuations are almost as numerous as the fans themselves, but can be broken down into a few basic categories.
An advertising campaign with a new focus may catch the attention of people that had no interest after seeing previous commercials. These new fans will join the previous ones in their enjoyment of the person, product, or show. This would cause an upswing in the number of Facebook fans as additional people express their enjoyment socially. Promotions that require someone to be a fan of a Facebook page do increase the number of fans, but a portion of these new members may leave once the promotional period is over or prize is awarded.
“Fair Weather” Fans
Some people prefer to express their fandom only when it is popular to do so. While this is common with college and professional sports teams, it can happen with celebrities, political figures, and others as well. The release of a new movie or television series to critical acclaim will cause an increase in the number of fans to the Facebook page of a studio, celebrity, or network. However, movie receiving poor critical reviews can have a detrimental effect on the number of fans of the movie’s lead actor or actress. A political figure mentioned in a scandal, accurately or not, will lose fans regardless of their shared political views or community goals.
Some people aren’t satisfied with a handful of their friends as “neighbors” in Facebook games. They solve this problem by creating multiple accounts. These secondary accounts may become additional fans on Facebook. Unfortunately, these additional accounts are sometimes deleted or removed. This would cause the number of fans on a Facebook page to decrease to represent the true number of real people supporting the page.
The gathering of large amounts of people inevitably draw those that wish to sell their wares to the masses. Facebook pages with significant numbers of fans are the modern, digital version of large public gatherings. They attract the operators of accounts established with the sole purpose of convincing people to buy their products. These accounts become fans of a page in order to post links to items that have little or nothing to do with the original page. Posts like these are created by an automated program (or “bot”) that is written with the sole task of drawing in as many people as possible. Eventually, once enough real people become irritated by this activity, they will report the account to Facebook. The account is eventually deleted, removing a fan from the page.
Occurrences and changes in life can alter a person’s views and shift what they are fans of. A woman will become a fan of a bridal shop’s page while planning for her wedding, but might retract her fandom after the honeymoon is over. In a similar trend, a man would most likely lose interest in a singles bar shortly after proposing to his intended mate. A couple expecting their first child would certainly find themselves more interested in toy stores, child’s clothing, and toddler nutrition. A recent change to Facebook account options allows for automatic account deletion after a period of inactivity. If a person is unable or unwilling to login for months or years, the fan count of their favored pages will decrease. This includes the unfortunate passing away of the account holder and possible eventual deletion of their account.
The public opinion and interests constantly shift, change, and flow. Some things lose relevancy to the modern public. As common tastes move from one area to another, the amount of fans of related pages will increase and decrease. There will always be a number of dedicated fans regardless of the public trends, but some will come and go over extended periods of time.
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