Several times a month we get the question, “how do I get more likes on my Facebook page?” Our go-to answer for a while was, “boost high-quality posts, create engaging content, and interact with your Facebook community and you’ll naturally get more likes,” followed by a somewhat lengthy, “please try not to pay attention to how many likes you have… ” explanation. However, the question asker continued to place importance on likes, measuring the metric month over month as a sign of success. It wasn’t until one client said, “but wait, if only a small percentage see what I post, WHY does Facebook still have the Like button on a page AT ALL?!”, that we began to wonder the same thing. Folks, here is the reason:
The Beginning of Brand Pages (and Likes)
Once upon a time, there was a company called Facebook who decided to, in addition to letting people virtually network through individual profiles, allow businesses to create pages to promote their goods and services.
In the very beginning of business page world (circa 2008), getting users to “like” your page was super important. Aside from showing the world how popular your business was in the way of likes, it also allowed you to broadcast anything you put on your business page to all those likers (fans).
The Decline of Organic Reach
But, time passed and the ‘ol Facebook began offering DIY ads to these pages, and around the same time, you learned that many (most?) of your fans weren’t seeing the things you were posting! Here you were putting all this time and effort into making sure you posted every day, and it was falling on deaf ears!
So you did some research and found out that this was happening on purpose! And Facebook was estimating that 18% of your fans (at most!) were going to see your posts organically (translation: without paying for them to be seen)!
You did what any smart marketer would do and you kept on posting, but you also spent a little ad money so those posts WOULD be seen- and now because you were spending money, even more people than your followers would see it! Hooray!
Fast forward a few more years and the “reach” began to dwindle further and only 2-5% of your precious fans you worked so hard to earn were seeing your posts organically. As if that wasn’t bad enough, you heard through the grapevine that in the future, 0% of your fans would see your posts organically .
You kind of understood… Facebook is a business. It’s in the game of making money, so of course, they want as many businesses as possible to pay to be seen. But WHY, you asked, WHY am I still asking people to like my page?! Why does it matter if people like my page anymore???!
Marketers call page likes “vanity metrics”. It feels good to see you have a lot of fans, but in all honesty, it really doesn’t mean much to your page anymore. So, why does Facebook keep this seemingly antiquated measurement even though they don’t intend to use it to our advantage? The answer is scientific in nature and actually is quite brilliant.[blockquote author=””]Marketers call page likes “vanity metrics”. It feels good to see you have a lot of fans, but in all honesty, it really doesn’t mean much to your page anymore. [/blockquote]
The History and Science Behind the “Like” Button
Back when the business page craze began, Facebook began recording every like a user clicked and began building a database. If Sally liked the Main Street Farmers Market page, the Bob’s Organic Meats page, and the local Whole Foods page, what would Facebook now know about Sally? That she is interested in locally grown foods? That she is into natural and organic living? That she likes to shop local? That she prefers living a healthy lifestyle? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. With each page and post Sally liked, a new piece of consumer behavior was unveiled.
Through Likes, Facebook began building a history of everything every user was interested in. Their every Like was being added to their profile and was measured, eventually being compared against other users to find patterns and correlations; links between interests that could reveal detailed insights into who these users are and what they’re interested in.
Over the years, Facebook collected ALL this “like” data, partnered with third party data providers, developed the pixel, and tracked everything its users clicked, downloaded, filled out, and bought… all in an effort to create the most robust marketing reach out there. And it worked. The like button became an important and valuable data source and the social media giant now has an immense wealth of data about its users, allowing marketers to target specific audiences that are likely to be interested in your products and services.
But, we digress…
The Fall of The “Like”
Over time the Like began losing its value.
The first decrease we saw in the value of page like status happened during the great Newsfeed Algorithm change of 2013. This change altered the way content was shown to users based on an increasingly complex array of factors, of which those all-important Likes were only one part of, and they lost quite a bit of value.
The Like lost value again with the creation of the “unfollow” button. Now a user could Like a page, but they didn’t have to follow it. So, theoretically, if you had terrible content on your page but your followers were friends and family and didn’t want to hurt your feelings by unliking your page, they could all unfollow the page and would never see your content again. But your page likes would be the same, so…..
What Do “Likes” Mean in a Modern Facebook World?
Knowing all this, what do Page Likes actually mean anymore on a modern day Facebook? Are they still a relevant measure of popularity? A good KPI? Anything?
Yes and no. For brands, post Likes are still valuable – they define how far your reach will go and help to indicate audience response, which Facebook can then measure and take into account when assessing Page performance. But Page Likes, well, you may have hypothesized that they are a lot less valuable than they once were, especially considering that having lots of Page Likes doesn’t necessarily mean your message is getting through!
What Does Matter on Facebook?
If Page Likes don’t matter, what does matter on Facebook now?!
It’s the engagement on your posts that really defines your reach and response. Generating engagement with the content you post is the best way to reach the most amount of people, build interest and engagement, and generate brand awareness, leading to more authentic Page Likes (not that it matters though, right….)
While the Like was once a crucial currency of Facebook- evidence of your popularity, and importance- getting people to Like your Page might inflate your vanity stats, but it won’t necessarily mean that more people are going to see more of your content, something that you definitely want to be aiming for. Because ultimately, interaction = engagement = a measurable sign of interest in your brand.
Want to jump-start your Facebook presence? We’d love to help. In fact, we’ll do it for you.
Who is Social Betty?
Here, we are ALL Betty. As “social” Bettys, we communicate your brand through the power of social media. Why? Because we know there is a giant gap between businesses who want (and can afford) large scale social media presence and small businesses who need a not-s0-large social media presence. Betty bridges that gap! By providing cost-sensitive social media management options for the small business owner, Betty has your back. Wink!