Why Facebook Page Likes Still Matter

Facebook Page Likes Still Matter

If you’ve been listening to the chatter lately, you may be convinced that Facebook page likes no longer matter. Or they matter less than they once did.

Allow me to disagree. In my opinion, Facebook page likes still matter. In fact, they may matter more than they ever did before.

The Argument

The basis of the argument tends to be from one of two things:

  • The “death” of organic reach
  • Poor Facebook advertising results

The first argument sounds a little something like this…

Your Facebook fans won’t see your content anyway! So likes no longer matter. Why would you pay for that??

The second argument:

Watch this video called Facebook Fraud. Advertising doesn’t work! It only brings you fake profiles, and those aren’t real people who result in business. So why would likes matter anymore??

The arguments’ foundation is a lack of trust in Facebook. That Reach is disappearing, forcing brands to advertise. That when they advertise, real people aren’t attracted anyway. It’s one big scam!

The Counter Argument

The argument is made in a vacuum that a Like now lacks value. It doesn’t consider the quality of the Like and where it came from.

The first argument about Reach is not entirely true. Percentage of fans who see each post is going down for about 70% of brands. Not all brands. But how many of your fans see any of your content — for free — during a given day or week? Is this not valuable?

I find that I regularly reach a number of people organically over a week that is at least equal to my total number of fans. Considering a portion of the people who like my page are now inactive or rarely active, this — to me — seems like a very reasonable number.

Of course, we were spoiled in the past. We reached 20% or even up to 50% of our total fans with a single post. We set that as our expectation, and we assumed that anyone who liked our page should not only be able to see it, but be required to see it. THEY WANT TO SEE THIS STUFF, DARNIT!

The truth is that Facebook is a growing, changing landscape. There is much, much more competition in the News Feed these days. Not only are there more people on Facebook, but there are more brands. And those brands are more active than ever before.

The result? Facebook is still showing only 300 (on average) posts to the typical user every day. But that means this number is a smaller percentage of the total number of posts in the past.

Bottom Line: Facebook can’t be successful unless users engage and are happy. If they want to see your awesome brand posts, Facebook will need to show it or pay the consequences. Facebook needs to balance and tweak what they think users want based on their actions.

So understand that fewer fans will see a single post. But you should also alter your expectations and ask what is reasonable. Angry and want to leave Facebook? Okay. How many of your followers on Twitter will see a single tweet? Google+? On and on.

If it’s more, feel free to take off. But my guess is that the grass isn’t greener.

Ultimately, quality is what’s most important. Let’s assume that your highest quality fans are the top 2%. The most important thing is that you reach as many of those 2% (understanding many won’t be online when you post) as possible.

If 70% of your fans are casual and rarely take action, how important is it that you reach all of those 70% with each post? It’s a question you should ask yourself.

Along those lines of quality, consider your email list. Let’s assume a list of 20,000 people. The profitability of those 20,000 people is directly related to the quality of the list. If you bought the list, you are unlikely to get the results you would get from people who willfully opted in to receive your content.

Same goes for Facebook fans. If you have 20,000 fans that you bought — or you acquired through lazy or deceptive means — you shouldn’t expect results. Quality matters.

That leads us to the “Facebook Fraud” argument — that Facebook is fraudulently building likes with ads from click farms. You know that an email list of 20,000 people is only valuable if they are 20,000 people who care about your product, service or niche. Same with Facebook ads for likes. Attract those already close to you so you can bucket them and reach them, both paid and organic.

You should build your fan base first with people who have subscribed to your content, bought from you or visited your website. Those will be high quality fans.

Your success with building a relevant audience on Facebook is dependent on the quality of your targeting. Read my full Facebook Fraud response here.

How I Value Likes

I value high quality Likes. I no longer run contests to pad a number, attracting people who are less likely to be my customer. I rarely target users who don’t know who I am to build my audience.

The result? I’ve found that fans are most likely to BUY!

Repeatedly when I have a product to promote, I find that fans buy at a very high rate. On the flip side, people who are less likely to know who I am (and trust me) are far less likely to buy.

Read these two posts as examples:

As a result, I see Facebook as a very simple sales funnel:

  1. Build a highly relevant audience
  2. Provide content that interests them and they value to build trust
  3. Collect an email address
  4. SELL

Otherwise, you’re just selling to people who may not know who you are, interrupting their experience on Facebook. Even if you only reach a fan with paid ads, you know they are interested in you and are willing to hear from you — as opposed to blindly targeting people, selling your crap.

I see it as a productive method to “bucket” users. By liking your page, someone has expressed interest in your product or service, even if they never want to read your posts in their News Feed. So when you sell, that affinity makes them more likely to buy.

That’s why even I’m not all that concerned about reaching 100% of my fans organically. The bottom line will be the sale, and bucketing those people helps separate those who are likely to buy from those who aren’t.

Importance of Targeted Ads

When you build likes, focus on quality over quantity. Sometimes, be willing to spend a little more to attract the people most likely to buy (see WCA).

1. Email Subscribers/Customers
2. Website Custom Audiences

3. THEN…

If you don’t target appropriately, don’t expect to get quality out of your ads or out of your fan base. Then, YES, fans are worthless.

Learn How to Master Facebook Targeting!

The most important targeting tool for building your successful sales funnel is the Website Custom Audience. With it, you can increase your relevant fan base, build your email list, drive website traffic and increase sales.

Interested in mastering this tool? Sign up for my WCA Workshop!

  • Kristy Schnabel

    Always enjoy your posts,Jon. I agree that likes are still important for these reasons: credibility, visibility, directed ads toward your fans, you’re just starting out… and I’ll include vanity (who doesn’t like getting a like?) Yes, engagement matters way more, but likes still have their place. ~Kristy (P.S. gave your name to a guy at a Meetup I spoke at this week. Hope he connects with you.)

  • Lenny Gomez

    Good stuff J – Also I’ve been noticing individual pieces of content that has “Likes” starting to rank…. ButtonSpace is a great tool we use here at SMDigital Partners to see how we can use social to rank pages in comparison to our competition….

  • http://www.jkrule.com Juliette Rule

    Spot freakin’ on, John. I’d expect no less, but I’ll stop screaming at third party product reps who call me constantly preaching this inane argument. I’ll just send them a link to your site. Nuff said.

  • http://jasonhjh.com/ Jason HJH

    Hey Jon,

    There’s a 3rd argument made that I’ve rebutted on several occasions but I want to hear your opinion on it:
    “Since Facebook allows you to reach anyone with ads, you don’t need a fan base to do so, but just promote the post whenever you need to.”

    My reply has always been obvious – just because you can reach them doesn’t mean they’re likely to buy, especially because they have no relationship whatsoever with you. And the usual reply I get is that there is something called “impulse purchases.”

    Looking forward to your stand.


    • http://www.postplanner.com/ Scott Ayres

      I think that will depend on your product Jason. If you’re selling funny t-shirts via ads you don’t need a fan base. If you’re running a local business you need Likes and a relationship with those people before they will buy. And as Jon points out people don’t buy from him on impulse either. He needs a fan base.

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  • http://www.dadiehost.com/ Perfect money hosting

    This is an audacious and powerful article to read! Jon Loomer you show
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  • http://crokes.com/ Shaun

    You know what Jon facebook is not working for me now. I post links and content but i just one or two clicks thats it. It’s doesn’t work now. What do you think Jon?

  • Guest

    So much common sense in this article, I hope all the naysayers get the point.

  • Ann Burton Wootten Furnivall

    my reach has gone up quite a bit in the last couple of weeks….closer to 10% lots of days…

  • http://www.marketers.com Chris Scott

    Great post Jon… when you use a tool to do what it’s designed to do, you tend to get the results you want.

    If you go to FB’s business page (www.facebook.com/business/overview) they give you the general strategy on how to use it: 1) setup your page, 2) identify your audience, 3) create compelling content, 4) advertise, and 5) measure and adjust.

    Unfortunately, too many have not take the time to understand and test how to use Facebook as a tool in their marketing efforts. I think too many give up way to early and decide “it doesn’t work for their business”.

    Your sales funnel process has been working so well for me because it’s an applied process to how FB intends us to use it.

    Thanks for posting this article… now when people ask me if FB matters, I can save time by just sending them a link to this page.

  • http://beta21.circussocial.com Avtar Ram Singh

    I have to disagree Jon. It’s important to have a presence on Facebook, I agree, but it’s not important today to “build” a large fanbase. Since you’re promoting most of your content (at least initially) using ads – you’re going to organically (in a sense) grow the number of fans you have on your page.

    But instead of saying, “I want to get 5,000 likes on my page this month” – people should be saying “I want to reach 40,000 people this month” – and as a side product of reaching those people – a percentage of them will convert into fans. Maybe the percentage will be 5%, maybe it’ll be 10% or maybe if your product/service/messaging is FANTASTIC – it’ll be 25%.

    But page likes as a goal is a silly thing to go for.

  • Devanshu Bhatia

    More page likes also gives confidence in the page esp when there are many these days for one. So trust is another benefit that it drives irrespective real or organic page likes.

    Also, we have started running ads exclusively to page likes and have seen good results, esp the ones where the intention is selling.

  • Grant Perry

    Nice article. I hadn’t completely abandoned getting fans but it’s been a very small focus for me lately. You’ve convinced me to rethink a little; that they still remain a good ad target and I agree totally that news of organic reach is dead is a little unfounded. As you mention it may be lower but it’s still your best fans seeing your conversion.

  • Questionable

    Hey Jon. I wanted to know what your thoughts on this site is: pulptastic.com. They seem to be using blackhat methods to get page likes. Whenever you click through a post, a javascript will run that will autolike their page as long as you’re logged into facebook. They have 350K+ fans right now.

    You can check out the script when you view the source. Scroll to the bottom and it’ll be http://bjucs.com/fk/. Code is obfuscated but when you beautify it, you can see exactly what it does.

  • Dan

    Hey, I’ve mastered targeting non fans and I’m pulling in a 10x ROI atm. For me it’s very scalable. I even exclude my email list using custom audiences to make sure they don’t know the brand. It may only work in certain industries but worth a test I reckon.

    What I found was it depends on the offer after you get the targeting right. For example I’m in the FMCG industry and the same offer I run in Australia doesn’t work in the US, but works amazing in New Zealand.

    I now have completely different offers for each country so I can effectively market to them. If for example I’d tested the US campaign first I might have formed the opinion targeting non-fans doesn’t work, when it fact for me it does.

  • Gidi Ben Dor

    i couldn’t say no less, but in my opinion, the ( talking about section) is more important than the (Likes section) that what i believe, it to get people to talk and discuss what my product is about, more valuable to me than a (like) that won’t get me nothing after all, even if it’s by quality, talking even with (rejecting) beehives allow me to Expend the idea of my product more and more.
    it’s a great topic you have here, and solid.
    thank you.
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  • Julius Muller

    There aren’t a lot of informed people making the argument that a Like doesn’t matter. At least not that I’ve seen.

    What I have seen are people making the argument that if you pay Facebook for 100 Likes, Facebook automatically denies you access to 98 of them. So 98% of the Likes you get don’t matter. Would that be more accurate?

    What you’re promulgating here is building a fanbase out of people who are already interested in your product to the extent that they intend to make a purchase.

    If they are that excited about your product, they would go to your website. Subscribe to your Newsletter. At least by doing that they’d be able to keep up with your offers, sales and news. Not so if they join your Facebook Page.

    From that perspective, for a small business owner, having a Facebook Page to manage is just another pain in the arse they can do without. There’s no value there beyond some PR.

  • junaid ahmed

    Great article Jon! My post reach has gone really down from last couple of weeks; even I have targeted my active audience. Even there is a great fluctuations have been seen in graph of facebook page likes. I am unable to understand that graph. Once it shows a great drop down in a particular date and then in increase for the same date after few days. Can you please explain it to me? It just looks failure of all social media marketing tactics that no positive growth seems in organic reach.

  • Aauto Diti

    Good stuff Jon thanks!

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/daviscollin Collin Davis

    In a way, Facebook is taking the Google route of search results. In the same way that Google is trying to emphasize quality over quantity (at least that is what they preach) people are more likelier to see posts of brands or people that they regularly engage with.

    This means brands have to be more innovative and engaging and it definitely helps raise the standards of Facebook as a platform.

  • http://www.postplanner.com/ Scott Ayres

    Likes are still very much important as they do give “social proof” when you do run ads.

    • Silverpeppar

      But only until people in general cotton onto how many of those likes are likely to be low-quality fake likes, and become more sophisticated in their evaluation of a page based on likes. I’m already seeing examples of people being suspicious and dismissive of pages with particularly high/improbable numbers of likes.

  • http://www.hisocial.com/ Hisocial

    Hi Jon, this is an awesome article. I especially like the idea of using Facebook as sales funnel. Since we don’t have much influence on how many people a post will actually reach, we might just take what we get. Thanks for sharing your ideas, it really is a helpful and inspiring article.

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  • http://postific.com/ Jessica Smith

    Facebook likes present more natural ways to generate leads and create relationships. I agree that it still is very powerful and a post can reach more people because of the interest that it can create among other audiences.

  • Patrick Costello

    Likes are still valuable, but that value has an inverse relationship with the volume of content on Facebook. The more content on the system, the fewer people your page posts will reach unless you’re an elite content wizard or can throw money at it.

    A Like is the lowest form of social engagement. Prioritizing your efforts to get Share’s will yield a much greater return in today’s ecosystem. Share messages are prioritized much higher than Likes by Facebook’s Edge Rank system – 1300% more according to adweek:(http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/brands-favor-social-shares-over-likes-148256) – an old stat but good for perspective.

    The era of top-down sharing is over – it’s time people focus more on bottom-up sharing, which is completely untapped because most of the messaging that goes out when people click Facebook Share looks horrible.

    Typically, when someone clicks a Facebook Share button, the message that pops up is auto-populated according to settings (OG tags) established by the site admin (not the marketing team). Is your site admin a social sharing expert?

    Some companies, like Naytev.com, are working to make it much easier for people to easily control + optimize their organic sharing. Some more on this topic here: http://blog.naytev.com/its-not-your-fault-but-your-share-button-sucks/

    Likes are still valuable and a key part of consumer engagement, but Shares are now a proportionally more important piece of the engagement puzzle. On a side note, you can still run very effective ad retargeting campaigns using the social share data you collect if paid media is a big part of your organization’s focus.

  • Mason Isabella

    Very good discussion. Fantastic. I like Social Media Marketing

  • Roberto
  • Rehaan

    Another massive advantage (if I’m not mistaken) is the ability to paid-advertise to users WITHOUT that trust-busting and ugly “Sponsored” word showing up!

    Am i right to assume that fans don’t see that page posts are being promoted/sponsored?

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