What Advertisers Find Out About You When You Click 'Like' On Facebook

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Photo: Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious / Flickr, CC

Facebook knows a lot about each of its users, of course, and it offers you options to make your account as private as possible. But that doesn’t stop advertisers from drawing data from the social network, and using it to target you with ads.

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Last week, a new company, Likester, launched “Likester AdCenter,” a tool that analyses the vast trove of  data that Facebook generates from people hitting the “Like” button—750 million likes and counting. Here’s how founder Kevin McCarthy says it works:

You can put any company into the Likester search engine, and learn a tremendous amount about that company’s fans, including what books they read, TV shows they watch, movies they watch, and other companies that they like, and so on.

We gave McCarthy a sample list of interesting companies—Walmart, Lululemon, Starbucks, etc.—and asked him to show us what the Likester database reveals about you when you “like” any of those brands.

The results are both surprising and depressing. Who knew that Stride Gum and Lynyrd Skynyrd were so popular among shoppers? On the other hand, all the stereotypes about fans of Harley Davidson and Pabst Blue Ribbon seem to be true—they like Larry the Cable Guy and The Melvins, respectively.

And you won’t believe the ugly truth about Yankees and Red Sox fans …

If you like Walmart, you might also like black actors, country singers and Megan Fox.

Walmart has 16,438,404 likes, more than most brands. It's not too surprising that people who like Walmart are 91 times more likely to also like Febreze and 87 times more likely also like Lysol.

Oddly, they're also 6.5 times more likely than average to also like Megan Fox. Black actors and country and western singers also index more highly with Walmart likers than other entertainers.

Here's a selection of brands Walmart's fans are more likely to favour. The numbers represent how many times more likely it is that a Walmart liker has also hit 'Like' for the named brand:

  • Stride Gum 71
  • The Hollywood Gossip 69
  • JustMySize (a plus-size clothing brand) 67
  • Trace Adkins 38
  • Reba McEntire 37
  • Bernie Mac 35
  • Bret Michaels 33.4
  • Jada Pinkett Smith 29
  • Sanaa Lathan 23
  • Taraji Henson 23
  • Ashton Kutcher 11
  • Will Smith 10.5

But ... Walmart likers are only 6.5 times more likely than average to also like Megan Fox.

If you like Lululemon, you might also like The New York Post, puppies and these obscure twin models.

Lululemon has 623,297 likes on Facebook. Fans of the cult-like yoga brand are very specific about their likes--most of their cross-referenced likes went to other yoga and fitness brands. Here are the more quirky brands on their radar:

  • Kristi Blicharski ~ Creating Your Bliss 667 (Blicharski is a 'happiness coach').
  • The Daily Muse 659 times (a career advice site).
  • Michelle Underground 629 (a yoga celebrity).
  • Eileen Fisher 616
  • Page Six 616 (The New York Post's gossip page)
  • Can this puppy get more fans that Justin Bieber? 599
  • Tom And Gary's Decentralized Dance Party 575
  • Alyssa Reid 539 times (singer)
  • Talley Twins 575 (models)

If you like Starbucks, you might also like Barbie, Wet Seal and Hello Kitty.

Starbucks, which has 30,443,461 likes, is pretty much for girls, according to Likester's data:

  • Tubing 18
  • Barbie 17
  • Wet Seal 15
  • Batman 15
  • Trident Chewing Gum 15
  • Hot Topic 14
  • Dairy Queen 13
  • Juicy Couture 13
  • Hello Kitty 12

If you like Pabst Blue Ribbon, you might be an ageing hipster who likes Minor Threat and the Melvins.

PBR fans seem to be every bit the hipster stereotypes you'd think they are. Their likes are achingly trendy--and as predictable as the watery beer itself.

Note, however, the advanced age of some their choices--Minor Threat, The Melvins, Kids in the Hall and John Waters were all big in the eighties. Looks like PBR's core fanbase is with ageing hipsters, not millennials ...

  • Miller High Life 241
  • The Melvins 141
  • Inked Magazine 134
  • Fat Tire 126
  • Nick Swardson 123
  • Reverend Horton Heat 122
  • Patton Oswalt 122
  • Thrasher Magazine 96
  • Minor Threat 94
  • Kids in the Hall 86
  • John Waters 83
  • Not Listening to Nickelback 81

If you like Harley Davidson, you might also like drinking bourbon and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

There are 3,751,871 Harley Davidson fans and the classic bike brand's following over-indexes in all the ways you think they're going to: tattoos, guns and bourbon.

  • Tattoo Lovers 56
  • Three Stooges 48
  • Larry the Cable Guy 46
  • Jim Beam 44
  • NRA 41
  • Captain Morgan 39
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd 35
  • Pillsbury 29
  • Little Debbie 29
  • Jack Daniel's 28

If you like Apple, you might be ... Brazilian?

Apple has 6,493,425 likes and over-indexes with Brazilians and people who like headphones, as these results show:

  • Cassia Eller 91 (Brazilian musician)
  • Yahoo Brasil 81
  • Beats by Dr Dre 57 (headphones)
  • Absolut Vodka Brasil 53
  • GTA San Andreas 41
  • Ayrton Senna 38 (Brazilian racing driver)
  • Skullcandy 31 (headphones/earbuds)
  • Lamborghini 31
  • McDonald's 23
  • Oscar Niemayer 23 (Brazilian architect)

If you like Zappos, you might work in marketing or the business media.

Zappos has 251,669 likes and, bizarrely, over-indexes heavily among people who read the marketing trade press and companies they follow:

  • Buddy Media 115
  • Gary Vaynerchuck 112 (wine and social media expert)
  • Bloomingdales 103
  • Wine Library TV 90 (owned by Vaynerchuck)
  • Advertising Age 73
  • Online Marketing Blog 79
  • Mediabistro 65
  • Business Insider 60 (yup, if you like Zappos you're 60 times more likely to be a BI fan!)

If you like American Apparel, you are painfully trendy.

American Apparel has had its ups and downs, but its 907,715 core fans on Facebook have extremely discerning, cutting edge taste. The clothing chain might be trendier--and have a stronger brand--than you'd think.

  • Clark Magazine 196 (French culture magazine)
  • Elena Gallen 181 (Spanish designer)
  • Facehunter 169 (fashion/model blog)
  • Rossy De Palma 88 (a Spanish actress often described as a Picasso come to life)
  • Mary-Kate Olsen 85
  • Vincent Gallo 53
  • We Are Underage 151
  • The Teenagers 132

If you like the New York Yankees you're 15 times more likely to also like the Boston Red Sox.

The Yankees have 5,678,302 likes, but it appears some of their fans don't either understand baseball or don't understand what the 'Like' button is for. Yankees fans are 15 times more likely than the average Facebook user to also be Red Sox fans.

Also, note the Walmart-Yankees-Stride Gum crossover.

  • Not Giving a Fuuck 34
  • Stride Gum 33
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr 29
  • Triple H 26
  • Cookie Dough 22
  • ooVoo 19
  • Captain Morgan 19
  • Fandango 17
  • Boston Red Sox 15

If you like the Red Sox, you're 15 times more likely to also like the Yankees.

Among the Red Sox' 3,622,396 fans, they also over-index as Yankees' fans.

And there's Stride Gum, again.

Also, Red Sox fans love beach volleyball player Misty May Treanor.

  • Yankees Suck! 103
  • Misty May Treanor 47
  • Stride Gum 39 times
  • Old Spice 18
  • Flo the progressive Girl 17
  • Yankees 15
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd 11

If you're a Mini fan, you might live in Portugal.

Mini has 2,998,107 fans, and they're very European:

  • Smart Portugal 110
  • DKNY Fragrances 66
  • Nike Football Portugal 41
  • Miss 60 38
  • Swarovksi 34
  • Swatch 33
  • Benetton 24

Rue La La's fans are promiscuous shoppers.

Rue LaLa's 253,930 fans just like shopping (and, oddly, the Wenham, Mass.-based ad agency Mullen).

  • Knorr 643 (seasoning)
  • The Fashion Informer 408
  • PopSugar City 151 (rival daily deal site)
  • Gilt 137 (rival daily deal site)
  • Sisley 129 (apparel retailer)
  • The Lingerie Post (underwear blog)
  • Mullen 113 (ad agency)

And while we're on the subject of trendy brands ...

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