What's In a Facebook "Like?"

I’ve been following Jay Baer‘s series on Facebook with interest. You see, while everyone else is out questioning the value of “likes” and popularity, I’m out extolling their benefits. I’m of the belief that each and every “Like” has value, and that the most popular people or brands can also be the most influential.

As usual, I don’t mind being in the minority.

Before I begin, feel free to read Jay’s blog posts. 

It’s ok, I’ll wait…

Please understand that  this post isn’t a rebuttal or argument against what Jay wrote as much as it has me thinking about the value of fans and followers.

I believe Jay raises some valid points. I don’t think it’s fair for different businesses to compare Facebook “likes” because each business, brand and individual are different. It would be like comparing my blog to Jay’s. Though we may have some of the same readers and might even talk about the same things from time to time, we are not the same person and we often share different philosophies. To compare my Twitter or Facebook following to his (or anyone’s)  is kind of off-base.

However, that doesn’t mean that the amount of friends and followers we each have aren’t valuable or that we should write off popularity and influence as mere numbers. Each and every “Like” has value, even if not every friend or fan is buying into what we’re selling every time. Writing off “likes” because everyone doesn’t respond every time, is akin to writing off RSS readers because not everyone reads your blog every day.

The Value of a “Like”

To me, the value isn’t in the like itself, but, rather,  the potential of “like”.

Let me explain where I’m coming from…

As you know, I used to own a very popular blog network. At first I implemented the usual methods to help grow my community, with the exception of Facebook. Then, about a year before I sold I decided to see what would happen if I started a fan page for my blog network. I didn’t cultivate it at first but once I started to have a regular presence the results were staggering. Not only did my “like” page grow by the thousands, but folks were coming to my blog, clicking on my ads and buying what I was selling. They were reading what I was writing and commenting both on the Facebook page and on the various blogs. Facebook was one of the best things  to happen to me. It gave me another way to interact and my business was more profitable.

Did every single person who “liked” my page come to my blog or buy my ebook? No, of course not. BUT every single person had the potential to do all that good stuff. Moreover, I learned that just because folks didn’t respond to a campaign one week, didn’t mean they weren’t responding at another time. It occurs to me that we may not have a response from every single like every single time, but each person who “liked” my stuff would respond at one time or another. And that is where the value is. Folks don’t have to respond every time, but they do respond.

When I began working with businesses to help them with their Facebook campaigns, we also saw a growth in responses to promotions as the number of Facebook “likes” grew. Again, not everyone responded at the same time, but everyone responded at one time or another.One “like” wasn’t more important or valuable than another.

What’s in a like?

  • The ability to reach thousands of people at one time.
  • The ability to convert a percentage of those people to a sale or a read or a response. A percentage that is significantly higher than if there was no Facebook campaign at all.
  • The ability to receive valuable feedback from the people who matter most.
  • The ability to interact with our communities

Does the amount of “likes” one has make a difference? I’ll argue that it does. Not in a “mine is bigger than yours” sort of way, but in that every single person who “likes” what you do has the potential to contribute to the end result. It’s our job not to write them off as insignificant, but rather, to find the potential in each one of them and see what we can do to get as many of them as possible to react.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t blindly “like” any person, brand or thing. If they appear in my Facebook status it means I’m really interested in receiving updates. I may not follow through every time, but I’ll most likely follow through sometimes. There’s value in my like, and I’m willing to bet I’m not the only valuable person out there.

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  1. Mara Gorman says:

    Great post, as usual. I’d love your opinion on one thing. My blog is a personal blog about traveling with kids. I get a fair bit of traffic from my FB page, where I share all my posts. I haven’t yet created a separate FB page that’s specifically for my blog. Do you think it’s worth doing that? And is it pesky and rude to ask the people who are your friends on FB to like your blog page on FB once you’ve created it? I’ve been reluctant to mess with the many friends I already have on FB figuring I’d see a drop in traffic, but I’m wondering if I’m limiting myself.

    And, for the record, I’m careful about my brand on personal FB page, just as I am on Twitter.

    • Deb Ng says:

      Hi Mara,

      I do recommend a blog specific Facebook page. In my experience it’s not only a way to drive traffic to your blog, but it’s also another way to interact with your blog’s community. While we want our traffic to remain at our blog, the truth is many of our readers are on Facebook and would rather stay on Facebook. Reaching out to them there will allow you to interact while keeping your Facebook personal Facebook account more private.

  2. Mara Gorman says:

    I think you’re right Deb – you’ve confirmed what I suspected I should do. I’m planning a spiff-up of my blog later this fall and will time the launch of my new page to coincide with that. The time has come I think for me to get off my FB duff! Thanks for your sage advice.

  3. Abby Malik says:

    Hi Deb! Great blog post! It’s been nice to ponder the issue of “likes” with you and Jay and some other bloggers who both agree and disagree. I especially like your statement: “I don’t think it’s fair for different businesses to compare Facebook “likes” because each business, brand and individual are different.”

    Every mode of social media is organization specific. While we can definitely make experience- and researched-based guidelines on a general basis, we can’t say all rules apply to everyone with an organization presence on Facebook. I interviewed Sarah Evans once (@prsarahevans) and I asked her what top-three social networking platforms businesses should use, and she said she didn’t have a top three for everyone: it all depends on the individual business.

    Thus, it only makes sense that the measurements we use to evaluate failure or success is also based upon the structure, type, environment, product and audience of each organization.

    Thanks, again!