In the middle of 2014 my Facebook Page saw a surge in Facebook Likes, from around 20,000 to well over 60,000, within the space of a few months.
People ask me what happened, and the honest answer is I didn't have a clue!
A few have suggested that they must have been paid for, and that those likes will all be from Facebook "Like Farms" in countries like India, the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal and Sri Lanka, but far from it. In fact, none of those countries appear in the geographical list given to me by Facebook, which is topped by Brazil(!), the UK and the US.
The demographics are also believable. 58% of my page's Likes are from women, which reflects the general bias in equestrian sport, the staple fodder of my page. Of those women 88% are engaged according to Facebook. Fake Likes are generally not "engaged".
I started to analyse where the Likes had come from.
The big jump within a small period of time interested me. Surely those Likes should give us a clue as to what was happening?
I narrowed the date range for reporting to Facebook to concentrate on the period during which most of the new Facebook Likes appeared. There was a steady increase in the early months of 2014, but then in April the graph rises steeply.
I used Facebook Insights to find out what sort of numbers were involved.
The Net Likes were made up entirely of Organic Likes, with no Paid Likes whatsoever. I have no idea what Facebook charges for 500-1000 Likes Per Day but I know I couldn't afford it!
The next graph indicates what sort of activity led to these Facebook Likes.
This is where it got interesting. There are some Page Likes - Likes by other Facebook Pages - and On Your Page Likes - people visiting my page and clicking the Like button - but the overwhelming majority came from Page Suggestions made by Facebook themselves.
Why? I wasn't paying for them, as the Insights clearly show. I drifted off onto the Web in search of some answers.
To cut a long story short, it seems that my page was temporarily featured on Facebook's International Page Suggestions list.
This is the list of pages which new and existing users of Facebook are "pushed" by Facebook, encouraging them to Like them because the pages featured share some of their interests, or appear to!
Despite a lot of research, and various discussions on other sites, it is still not clear how or why a page finds itself on that list. One thing is quite clear though: it is temporary. This would explain the peak in Net Likes over that period, and the fact that most of them are still engaged with the site.
According to other sites, here are some of the other factors which may enhance your chances of getting on the Page Suggestions List.
The above points may help your page to be featured, but I can't guarantee anything!