Australian monarchists have a proud history of creating details to suit themselves. Lewis Holden says the ACM's latest published website and social media statistics appear to carry on this rich tradition.
If you ever need a spin doctor, hire a monarchist. They're adept at making figures look good irrespective of their content.
Why do I say this? Well, take the ongoing saga of their website traffic statistics. Back in August, I questioned the time period for their figure of 3.25m "page views" of the ACM's website. Of course, no response was given to this or any explanation provided for the figure. They have, however in their latest post boasting about their numbers, now given a timeframe of sorts to the figure. The 3.25m page views are the number of views "to date", which means roughly an average of 361,000 page views a month for the last 9 months.
This is very impressive number. However, they don't let on how many unique page views they're getting, or where the users are coming from, or how long they spend on the page or give any indication as to what they're looking at. Again, it's useful to refer to traffic tools such as Alexa, which in my last analysis of the numbers put Independent Australia well ahead of the monarchists. Alexa is not perfect, but it's still the best tool we've got.
Something else has perplexed me about the ACM's most recent boastful post. Their Facebook page has grown from 12,000 "Likes" (people following their page on Facebook, which they have to "like") last month to 18,000 this month, tracking towards 19,000 by the end of the month. The page has had a whopping 4,601 new likes over the last 30 days - that's a growth of 31.99% (I don't have the figures for the previous month, but I'm sure sometime in mid-July the ACM's page had fewer followers than the ARMs page). With all those new followers, you'd expect a corresponding increase in activity on the page - people reading stories, commenting on stories, "liking" images and videos posted, sharing posts with their friends, etc. However, despite outstanding growth in followers, the ACM's activity count has, strangely, remained flat.
Of the 18,000 people following the ACM, only 4,600 (25%) have interacted with the page over the last month. Which means that 13,400 (75%) of the page's followers either ignored the posts or weren't interested in them enough to "like" them back or make comment on them. In contrast, the nzrepublic page which I administer, three-quarters of the followers interacted with the page last month. I don't think that republicans are especially more active on Facebook (although that would be great if it's true)
I've seen adverts for the ACM's Facebook page plastered across plenty of pages (they appear to be targeting the British Monarchy's page, ironically, or perhaps this is just the way the advertising software seeking followers), so that probably explains the large number of new likes over the past month. However, the lack of activity made me curious. After a quick Google search, it seems there are plenty of websites where Facebook "likes" can now be purchased by the thousand. Interestingly, the reviews of these services point to a similar trend: the new users appear to be "junk" profiles - that is, they're not really people at all, just profiles created to "like" other pages. Importantly, it's much cheaper to buy "likes" than it is to advertise your page. It is clear to me that the ACM must be using such a service to pump up its numbers.
Now I'm happy to be put right on this by the ACM, and will withdraw my last statement if proven wrong. By that I mean if they're not buying page "likes" from some overseas service, and can show that their relative popularity is due to advertising alone.
But I'm not holding my breath...