'Like' It or Not: Less Than Half a Percent of 28 Million is Still A Lot

Posted on March 9th 2012

'Like' It or Not: Less Than Half a Percent of 28 Million is Still A Lot

Some communicators I speak to at conferences and workshops are still surprised when I tell them that getting someone to like their company’s Facebook page is essentially meaningless.

Getting the like, they assume, is how they get their status updates into their audiences’ news feeds. But if those who have liked the page don’t engage and interact there, they may as well never have liked the page at all.

There’s plenty of advice to be had on how to engage people on your page. Get them to comment, vote in a poll, answer a question, watch a video, enter a contest, they’re all worth more than a like.

Yet even the best brands are having trouble with that engagement. According to a study from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, the 200 biggest brands with Facebook pages are generated less than 1% engagement.

A lot of marketers will look at that data and see names like Nike, Harley-Davidson and Ford Motor Company and conclude that seeking engagement is a waste of time. Best to invest their scant social media resources elsewhere. Seeing that the 10 brands with the largest number of fans inspired engagement of 0.36% will be the nail in the coffin.

Hang on, though. The Starbucks page has attracted 28.7 million likes. If 0.36% of them are engaging (and that’s the average for the top 10, not Starbucks’ actual number), that’s still over 1,000 people engaging. Who are they likely to be? The answer: Starbucks’ biggest fans. Understanding that can lead an organization to engage them in such a way as to encourage them to engage with their peers on the company’s behalf.

A brand gets those brand ambassadors to represent them in their communities by appealing to what they value intrinsically—recognition, for example, or the opportunity to show off what they know to their peers. Suddenly, attracting millions of fans in order to convert thousands into unpaid company representatives doesn’t sound like such a bad deal.

Of course, most brands don’t work hard to help those few who want to engage take the leap from interaction to ambassadorship. But the fans are just waiting to be activated for those who are able to appeal to what motivates them.

When you hear the math tell you things are bad, take a step back and reconsider. There still could be good news in those numbers.

For some great insights into “superfans,” consider reading Michael Wu’s “The Science of Social,” a free ebook available from Lithium.


Shel Holtz

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Posted on March 9th 2012 at 3:46PM

Great article. You might want to check out #socialtoaster as a way around this conundrum. They seemed to have a solution for getting fans to engage and participate in sharing content.



Cal White
Posted on March 9th 2012 at 5:55PM

Good point! As an event manager, check-ins are proving to provide valuable insight on the engagement of our fans with our events. No matter what kind of marketing you in charge of, traditional or social, ROI is always going to be in question. CEO's know they need you, but monetizing your efforts will always be at the top of their lists. Good thing about #SM is that we can track interactions in a variety of ways and most sites have incorporated some type of analytics model - which is great!

Antonio Basso Bosch
Posted on March 9th 2012 at 6:56PM

Hi Shel,


I´m sorry to completly disagree with you. 0,36% is a 100% disaster. If you are a manager who has to direct resources to facebook or somewhere else, whith this figure I guess there´s a lot o chances he or she directs the resources somewhere else.

Either companies change the way they do things on fb and other social media channels and see if results improve (and very fes really know how), or there´s a high probability they will "stop using them". That´s what I would do. It´s logical, isn´t it?.

There´s a lot of bla, bla, bla ... about social media channels and how you have to do things on them. We will see what reality and practice has to say in the future.

Regards and thks for your article.

Antonio Basso






Matt Hamilton
Posted on March 9th 2012 at 10:46PM

What I see happen is that smaller businesses with fewer 'likes' get better engagement because they connect with people at a personal level. One of my clients runs a small retail store and has about 250 likes, about half of those people engage on her Facebook page every week. Especially in times like this with a poor economy, many people are driven to support local businesses with a personal connection. The large brands poor tons of money into advertising and might get a like because of a funny or creative ad, then the user forgets about them and moves on.