social networking

Why Facebook Likes Shouldn’t Be an Organizational Objective

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like-us-on-facebook-buttonFacebook likes.   Hmmmmm.  The never ending discussion and debate around Facebook likes is something that I have had on an almost daily basis.

So why should “Facebook Likes” not be an objective?  I mean, it’s measurable, it’s visible, it’s seems like it’s qualitative in nature. So why wouldn’t anyone in marketing or communications charged with the responsibility of growing their social audiences use this as a means of moving forward

To answer this question, let’s look at it from the opposite perspective – Why Facebook Likes Should be an Organizational Objective?

  • More likes = more awareness of my brand
  • More likes = more of an audience that is paying attention to my brand
  • The more likes = more people to communicate with
  • The more people like my brand, the more that will follow
  • It will show up more in peoples timelines making it “go viral”

All of this sounds wonderful.  In theory.

The first issue in all of this, is – what does a Facebook like actually mean to your organization?

When organizations use this as a measurement tool, things such as – “The Forced Like” begin to happen.  What is the forced like?  It’s when an organization creates a Facebook page, with something that seems alluring – usually a contest, or some kind of special content – but the only way that you can gain access to it, is by clicking their “like” button.  Or as we term it – “like” gated.  Again, I beg the question – what does a Facebook like actually mean to your organization?

Communications and marketing people do understand that a truly engaged audience is what really moves a brand.  An engaged audience means that you are delivering something that they both need and want.  The entire premise and “cool factor” about social media… including Facebook… was that you could target your audience.  Even though you might not be reaching everyone, you could finally find the people who were really interested in what you had to offer.  It meant that you were truly delivering real ROI – spending dollars on an audience that could show real return, because they truly have a genuine interest in your brand.

The main opposition that  I have in using Facebook likes as a metric to success stem from 3 main points:

  1. Forcing a like, to gain entry into a contest or to gain access to a coupon or special redemption moves your brand further away from a genuine engaged audience.  Using tactics like this means you will attract an audience who’s main objective is couponing or contesting.  This also means that once the user has acquired what they need, “like” retention will become an issue, because the reality is – they are not that interested in your brand, they were interested in the possibility of winning/getting something for free.
  2. Without defining what a “like” means to your organization, also means that you have no real qualitative measurement.  While it is true, analytics and reporting area usually quantitative in nature – the problem is that when your reporting shows a significant increase in likes and then a decrease, it doesn’t really provide a great story.  However, once you define what it actually means to your organization you can really determine what your Facebook strategy should be in both gaining and retaining likes.
  3. What are you planning on doing with all of the people you’ve acquired?  This is the biggest pitfall with most Facebook like acquisitions.  As with all media – print, broadcast, digital  (blogs, facebook, twitter) – content is king!  This means that having likes as an organizational objective requires a two step process.  What are you going to do to get them, and what are you going to talk about/give them/ engage them once you have them?