Five short years ago, growing your social community was critically important. The more likes your Facebook business Page had, the more people would see your content, and hopefully engage with it. The more people engaged, the more people beyond that initial group were also exposed to your posts.
It all started with that initial action of liking a Facebook Page - however social media marketing has evolved over the years. Metrics that were important in the past just aren’t as relevant today, especially when those metrics compete for finite amounts of budget.
Let me qualify the rest of this post by saying that there absolutely is value in social proof. Users look to one another to validate brands and what they have to offer, however there are more social proof signals available than simply Page likes and followers.
So given this, do Facebook Page likes still matter? The short answer is: 'not as much as they used to'. Here are a few reasons why.
Facebook's News Feed Algorithm Changes Have Tanked Organic Reach
As you’re no doubt well aware, Facebook has made it increasingly difficult to reach the people who have connected to your brand's Page. The reason for this is that the competition for space in the News Feed rapidly increased as the platform's user base grew, and as such, Facebook needed to find a way to maintain a good user experience.
The introduction of the News Feed algorithm has lead to a continual shift in optimal Facebook strategy. This was further underlined again early this year, when Facebook announced a new, major update that would favor person-to-person interaction and content over Page posts. Essentially, Facebook's system works to show users the content of most relevance to them.
Whereas in the past, you could be assured that at least a certain percentage of the people who liked your brand's Page would see your content organically, the various algorithm changes since then have continually reduced that capacity, meaning that the only way to be sure that a substantial amount of your community will see your content now is to invest in Facebook ads.
But given that paid strategies are now the best way to serve your content to a targeted audience, you no longer need to rely on building Page likes to have a community with which to serve your content. In fact, brands can now totally bypass counting likes and focus on other value-driven business metrics.
The frustrating part, for brands, is that due to the Facebook news feed algorithm changes, users who like your brand's Page might never see your content organically. And with every algorithm tweak, this seems to become more and more probable.
Liking a Page is not a True Endorsement
In the past, users had to connect with a Facebook Page to leave a comment or interact with a post. These days, that requirement no longer exists, so users can search for a brand's Page or discover it through a share from a friend and participate in whatever conversation they choose.
Page likes also used to be very public action - whenever a user would connect with a brand's Page, a notification would be added into their activity stream on the News Feed, stating something like, “Tom and 15 of your friends liked X page." This display of social proof doesn’t happen anymore.
Users can also navigate to brand Pages and leave reviews and comments without any obligation to connect.
Assuming that Page likes equate to an endorsement of your brand is simply not accurate in modern social media marketing - people will connect with your brand because they like your content and think it's relevant, but re-engaging those people will likely require advertising dollars.
Facebook Page Likes Don't Correlate to Revenue
According to one study, only 1% of users who like a brand on Facebook will actually visit that brand’s Facebook Page. Since Facebook users spend almost all their time in the news feed, banking on Page likes to drive business results is not a good idea - doing so is effectively the equivalent of being obsessed with a car that can't take you anywhere.
The fact of the matter is that you can invest to build the greatest brand Page in the world, but statistically, none of the Facebook Page likes you gain will correlate to revenue.
The journey from liking a brand Page to purchasing a product is a long, convoluted adventure that has many twists and turns. Of those twists and turns, a Page like is the most irrelevant, considering the other ways to target consumers on Facebook.
There are Better Ways to Drive Business Value
Speaking of other ways to target consumers on Facebook, there's a range of great tools available to help drive actual business value for your brand.
Yes, these are paid advertising options, however, they offer substantially more business value for your brand than obsessing over Page likes.
- Website Traffic – Instead of running Page like campaigns, why not try to get users directly to your website to consume content, then work them down the path to purchase? Getting users from Facebook to your website helps set the wheels in motion to generate revenue in a more tangible way than trying to build the amount of Page likes you have. If you want to take this a step further, install the Facebook Pixel and run conversion-optimized ads for an extra bang for your buck.
- Brand Awareness – Facebook Page likes used to be important because that connection helped people see your content. With brand awareness ads, you can be sure people will still see your content, as this ad unit focuses on generating as much awareness (impressions) as possible to your target audience in your geolocation. Brand awareness ads measure brand recall, or the amount of people who remember seeing your brand within a few days. This is a great way to measure the traction your brand is getting for top-of-the-funnel actions.
- Promoted Content – Engagement is still a solid key performance indicator for your social media content strategy - after all, you want people to have a reaction to your content. And while people can still enjoy content without engaging with it, promoting your content enables you to control who sees it, and avoid the perils of the news feed algorithm. The funny part here is that you can get all the Facebook Page likes you want, but unless you're running promoted content, those people will likely never see it. Also, through targeting, you can reach the same demographic of people through interest and behavioral data, thus making worrying about Facebook Page likes seem a tad silly.
I realize I've been a bit harsh in this post, but it is very important for the success of your brand that you don’t obsess over vanity metrics such as Facebook Page likes.
Yes, there are ways to market to the people who choose to connect with your Page, but these tactics pale in comparison to what you can do to drive business value by investing a few dollars in Facebook ads.
Facebook Page likes might make you feel warm and fuzzy, but they likely aren’t doing as much as you think for your business.