A small business owner was complaining the other day about their inability to get ‘likes’ on Facebook. They had set a goal to achieve a certain number by November and were way behind schedule. They had seemingly tried everything: continual status updates asking people to share the page with friends, signing up for services promising an increase in fans — even offering a large gift certificate for the person who could get the most friends to like them. The problem? They were spending a lot of money to acquire a minimal increase in ‘likes,’ which wasn’t generating any kind of return.
It struck me that this was the wrong way to go about it. What’s the purpose of having hundreds or thousands of likes on Facebook? To generate business? To create interest about a product? To communicate with potential clients? Without thinking about the ‘the point’ behind their social media tactics, this business was essential paying people to like them… and to what end? Ultimately, whether they had 10 or 10,000 likes on Facebook was irrelevant if the likes were coming from disengaged, uninterested individuals.
Of course, Facebook ‘likes’ have their benefits. For one thing, you’re now in that person’s newsfeed. You may be able to communicate to a market you otherwise wouldn’t reach. There’s also the influence factor where a friend is more likely to pay attention to your brand simply because their friend ‘likes’ you.
It’s not that ‘likes’ have no value, but they shouldn’t be the main metric of success. There’s no end to the number of articles out there about “50 ways to get more likes on Facebook” or “How I got 10,000 likes in 2 weeks”. The problem with this is that without engagement, interest or dialogue from your client base, ‘likes’ can be meaningless and businesses should be careful about putting too much emphasis on achieving the coveted “high score”.
So what does matter? There isn’t a single formula, but possibly businesses would be better off striving for ‘shares’ or engagements over ‘likes’. They’re less generic, they encourage a reaction and they require the individual to be interested enough in the content to take some sort of action. Figuring out how to make your content more dynamic, interactive and shareable will likely give you better leads than obsessing over the number on the sidebar.