Likes Matter

Any social media kid out there worth their salt will tell you that “likes don’t matter.” I even wrote a post over a year ago to explore “Life Beyond the Like.” We all throw hissy fits every time the number of Facebook likes is used as a measure of success in a case study and rail against the c-suite when they tell us that they want to reach a certain number of likes for this campaign.

But at the risk of having the social media kids come out of the woodwork, let me tell you something: Likes matter.

Back off a second and allow me to explain, will ya? You can’t tell me that you haven’t looked at a client’s or potential client’s or even a competitor’s Facebook page and said to yourself, “Hmmmm, they only have XX likes? That sucks.” You can’t tell me that the Chevy Camaro people don’t want more likes than the Ford Mustang people. Or that AT&T wants more likes than Verizon. Or that at least one metric of that project you did for your client isn’t the number of “likes” you garnered.

Let’s face it: People “like” your page if you have led them there because of a promotion. Or because they’ve been a loyal, lifetime customer. Or simply because you’re a beloved brand. Or because you’re “cool” and people want to be associated with you. Just like the people who have huge numbers of followers on Twitter tell you that the number of followers don’t matter, the same goes for Facebook. But it’s a lie. They do matter. Because it’s a measurement of visits and eyeballs. Yes, research shows that on average, only 1% of people who “like” a page interact with that brand on a regular basis on FB. I hear you. I feel your disappointment.

Instead, let’s start thinking about the “like” as either the beginning of a journey for some, or a point in time of a journey for others. What comes before? What comes after? How does that online action lead to offline word of mouth? There are many other variables, but a “like” is one of them.

In other words, “likes” matter. But so do a lot of other things in the mix. So before you go off on another rant about 1% engagement rates and the ROI of someone clicking that “like” button, think about how “likes” are table stakes now. They are expected. They are a part of what not only we are judged on, but what our client is judged on as well. Let me reiterate: it’s not the ONLY thing, or even a really IMPORTANT thing, but it’s a thing. So deal with it.


  • June 11, 2012


    Likes are definitely a thing. They’re even a measurable thing from which something approaching insight can be derived.

    The problem, I think, is misunderstanding WHAT a Like is, what it means, and attaching either too little or far too much importance to it.

    A Like is simply low-intensity engagement. It takes next to no effort for someone to “Like” something on Facebook. Unless you’re asking people to like some kind of fetish porn, or Hanson, and risking the approbation of their networks, you’re not asking much of those who “Like”. The way I see it, that’s why Likes greatly outnumber comments and shares. They’re the lowest possible level of engagement and indication of interest.

    But they’re a starting point, and a sign that something you said or shared at least piqued a moment’s interest. And on the interwebs, that’s something.

  • June 12, 2012

    Jay Baer

    Likes matter as a top of the funnel filler. But they have no inherent value. A like without behavior is pointless. But given that the more likes you have, the more behavior you create (assuming everything else is static), more = better.

  • June 15, 2012

    Chris Baccus

    As long as we can all agree that any significant growth in page likes is a media metric and not a community metric then I’m fine with what’s here. All I’m saying is that page likes are driven by paid, more than earned. So if one page has 2 million likes and a competitor has 3 million likes, you can pretty much guarantee the additional million was driven by media and that any brand playing catch up will have to buy more fans if they intend to close the gap.

  • August 12, 2012


    your reply button is dodgy… not working…

    so I reply to doogs here:
    doogs says:
    The problem, I think, is misunderstanding WHAT a Like is, what it means, and attaching either too little or far too much importance to it.

    spot on!

    likes are nothing more than “progress indicators”, sorta like a sign-post but not quite They tell the organisation, the consumer is travelling well, so far so good…

    but then the crazy looney metrics dudes.. came along.. and started using it as for decision making. fools.

    ruining/ruined it

    now to “get ahead/win” people dummy likes, click on adverts to keep advetisers paying then click back-space, people pump questions in forums to increase activity numbers,

    essentially play the system….

    rather than play nice, in our online world of greater reach.

  • August 12, 2012


    how come on your blog,
    1 No offer checkbox, to be alerted for updates to comments of a blog post I have commented on
    2 No offer checkbox, to be alerted when you make a new blog post.

    is that a technology issue or design issue?
    as thought these 2 options, were standard these days….
    and you’d be on-to-it i assumed, being a WOM dude.

  • August 13, 2012


    spike: have you critiqued, the infographic, called brandsphere
    I’d value your typical straight-to-the point review×1024.jpg

  • August 13, 2012


    and your critque of this infographic, social compass

  • August 30, 2012


    I think the thing that we often don’t talk about (as Jay said) is that eyeballs are good. I would say it’s not as simple as more is better, but the idea that you have a greater potential for engagement, or at least impressions, when the number of Likes is higher. Twitter sells their promoted products on the basis that often the organic growth that we all crave is driven by the number of followers. In a land where impressions matter, and we are still measuring them across digital marketing campaigns, let’s not forget that more eyeballs means more impressions means better. So something like likes/followers = more impressions = better. It’s one component of measurement and h/t to Doogs for noting that insight is the key to any of these crazy formulas we create and recreate to try to understand what’s really happening in our communities.

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