For the Love of Likes
Whenever I talk to someone about their social media presence the first thing they always want is for me to get them more LIKES on their Facebook or Instagram pages or more FOLLOWERS on Twitter. While these are not necessarily bad goals, and the numbers can certainly impress people, LIKES for the sake of LIKES can be a double edged sword.Paid likes are like empty calories, they bloat things up but they don’t contribute to the cause.Click To Tweet, they can actually be very dangerous to your well being in the long term.
To make sense of this, let’s look at the way Facebook decides who to share your post with. As we pointed out in another post, many people think that when they post something on their project’s Facebook page, everyone who follows the page will see that post on their timeline. That’s not the case. Instead, Facebook analyzes the post using it’s powerful but secret and closely guarded algorithm. It then shares the post with a select group of people of its sole choosing. The number of people who see it will vary based on engagement and other factors, but it will be a small subgroup of your total fan base.
So how do you reach the others? You pay Facebook. The fees can add up to thousands of dollars per post if you have a big audience. That is when the “empty likes” that you were so excited about when you were bragging about your million fans on Facebook become a liability. Now every time you give Facebook a crisp ten dollar bill to reach more people, a huge chunk of the people that you’re paying to reach have NO INTEREST in your project whatsoever. And that is why you will see movie pages for example with millions and millions of followers and little or no engagement. And that is why those huge fan bases become essentially useless beyond anything other than bragging rights.
So why create campaigns that generate empty likes? Well, there are two main reasons. First, people like to brag about their big fan bases, and why not? It feels good to say you have a million fans, doesn’t it? Secondly, and more importantly, it’s because those ads were probably created by an agency who was not selling YOUR product to YOUR customers, but rather they were selling THEIR product (social media chest beating) to YOU. So now you write the agency a big check, maybe even recommend them to a friend, and then sit back and enjoy your million fans, 95% of whom could care less about what you post.
So, what do I advise my clients when it comes to Facebook likes? I tell them to be very careful not to get addicted to cheap and easy likes or they will surely see their following becoming morbidly obese over time. Instead, focus on engagement and provide people with genuine and USEFUL content. Remember, you can buy likes, but you can’t buy authentic engagement. More on that in another post.