Numbers matter. Number of Likes don’t. I don’t like Facebook Likes.

Way Back When…

There was a time when number of Likes on a Facebook post might have mattered. Brands and “influencers/gurus” highlighted the number of post Likes to show how engaged their audience was and that the content they were producing was generating favorable audience reaction.

Actually, even back in 2013 it wasn’t exactly fact. I know people who had (and still do) sycophants that would Like their every single post, no matter the content.

Same goes for fanpeople who Liked every single post of their favorite brands without even reading the content. As a friend told me back then about a Facebook Page he managed with over a million Likes: “We could post that the sun rose in the west this morning and we’d have 7,000 Likes within 30 seconds.”

The New Norm: Pay-For-Play

As Facebook grew and needed to ramp up revenue (stockholders on line 3), they changed their algorithm. No longer would people see all the posts from family, friends and Pages they had Liked. Now Facebook determined that for you.

Result? People saw fewer posts from Pages. Fewer posts from family and friends. Which meant Likes on posts declined.

In order to make even more money, Facebook throttled reach for Pages. Suddenly less than 2% (it’s likely less than 1% today) of people who Liked a Page would see that Page’s posts in their feed.

The reasoning? What Facebook has been going for all along: A pay-for-play model. Want higher reach and more Likes? Pay to boost or promote the post.

Go look at some of your favorite Facebook pages and you’ll see that Likes on posts are lower than minimal. Take McDonald’s Facebook page, for example. Over 79 million Likes for the page. Their last 3 posts? 305, 797 and 363 Likes. Pretty abysmal.

You could blame the content. But the fact is that ALL brands on Facebook have seen Likes plummet.

Facebook Likes are not a good measure of engagement

So What Does Matter?

I have never been a fan of using Likes to prove engagement. On Facebook, shares and comments are a better gauge of engagement with followers.

People have so much coming at them in their feed that it’s much easier to click “Like” than to actually type a comment. So if they take the time to comment, that says something to me.

Shares demonstrate the same thing: If people find the content engaging and relevant that they want to share it with their family and friends? That’s worth evaluating.

Want to measure the success of your Facebook content? Shares and comments. Those will give you an idea of how your audience feels about your content.

But They Got More Likes!

As I posted in my newsletter yesterday, Facebook recently announced that it was hiding Likes on posts. My initial thought? Excellent! But then I read the reason why…

It has to do with people’s self-esteem. People are looking to see how many Likes their friends’ post received. My post has less Likes? Then people must like me less. Which can lead to depression.

I’m not going to make light of depression (see the slide about employees, social media, health and well-being). But if your self-esteem is tied to how many Likes your selfie got- you know, the one in front of the bathroom mirror, where you’re making duck lips- then there are bigger issues that need to be dealt with.

If you’re chasing Likes to be one of the cool kids, then you’re doing it wrong.

If you’re embarrassed because your post is less popular than your friend’s? 🙄

Facebook feels that hiding Likes will improve people’s sense of well-being? Sigh.

On the other hand, I’m willing to look at the glass half full: If people no longer pay attention to Likes, maybe they’ll pay attention to the actual content of posts. And when they do that, they’ll engage with those posts beyond a Like- a comment and/or a share.

Now THAT’S something I like!

P.S. Just saw this and… well…

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