How “Likes” are Hurting Your Sales

There was a time when Facebook likes were merely vanity metrics. They didn’t have a whole lot of value and were the social proof version of Pokes. Likes were annoying to have to collect, but if you didn’t have a lot, you felt like people would judge you. So, it was in your best interest to get as many as you could.

How people used to try to get likes

This is when we started to see gimmicks to increase Page Likes which included:

Like Ladders

Which is where you start a thread where everyone posts their links and then everyone on the thread goes and likes each other’s pages was pretty trendy for a while. The issue with this is that everyone who participates in this thread is part of a direct sales company or a small business owner and is probably not the demographic that you’re trying to reach.

It may be some of your potential customer base, but it is known that direct sales don’t grow if you aren’t able to attract people who have never heard of your product or brand before. Facebook thinks, based off this information, that your target market is direct sellers, so your content and products will be shown mostly to people who probably already have your product or aren’t interested in changing opportunities. This means that though you have likes, your sales growth will be minimal.

Paid Likes

Then there were paid Page Like campaigns on Facebook. It’s important for you to know that Page Like campaigns are usually terrible for your business page. When you create a page like campaign, you’ll usually start to see a whole lotta likes. Facebook will tell you everything is working great, and your results are amazing. The problem is that this success is a false positive. Most of your likes will come from Like farms in Pakistan, India, and Malaysia. Which is totally fine, if that’s your target market. But if your target market is a 45-year-old housewife in Des Moines, you’ve just made it that much harder for her to see your content, because Facebook thinks your target market is a 25-year-old man in Karachi.

Which is why, now… that’s a problem

Times, they are changing, and Facebook likes are more than just vanity metrics these days. Now they have actual value and worth. The Like is no longer binary. Either you have one or you don’t. Likes carry data that can help you identify how to increase your sales in a sustainable way. Unfortunately, these kinds of techniques – like ladders, paid campaigns and the like – they actually hurt you more than they help you because it skews the data Facebook has on your audience, making it harder for you to get your products and posts in front of new eyes that actually want your product, which ultimately results in a decrease in sales.

Because in the end, how much engagement you have, how many likes you have – that’s pointless. You don’t care about the likes. What you care about is the sales that you believe you’ll actualize because of these likes. The way that these techniques are set up however, will result in just the opposite.

How Facebook Likes are Useful

But even so, Facebook Likes are very useful, and can be a healthy part of a nutritious marketing strategy! Lets talk about the two most common ways in which likes are useful:

Timing of Posts:

If you do a search right now, you’ll find that there are tons of articles and infographics on what time is the best time to post on Facebook. Everyone has an opinion and will give you a long list of reasons why. However, the only true metric towards figuring out when the best time to post is by using your Facebook Page Insights. The way it works is, Facebook looks at all your followers and creates a heatmap based off of when they are online, so that you can determine the best time to post your content.

Ad Campaigns & Targeting

When you set up an ad campaign, one of the most powerful audiences you can create is a Lookalike audience of people who have already engaged with your page. This means that Facebook will look at the people who like your page, making the assumption that they already like you and they are your target market. Then it will find people on Facebook who have never heard of you, who have similar characteristics to the people that do like you and show your content to them. It allows you to find people you may never have even heard of and attract them to your page.

Using the techniques that direct sellers routinely use to increase their likes, Facebook thinks your demographics are direct sellers and young men living in India, so the data provided in your insights section will not be of any value to you. Additionally, you won’t be able to use the information on your page to create any meaningful ad campaigns.

What to do Instead

Don’t worry though! This doesn’t mean you are doomed to have less likes forever! You can grow your page following organically, and in a fairly short period of time. There are a few specific steps to take to ensure that you’re growing your page to maximize your sales rather than your vanity metrics.

  • Make sure that you are posting content on your page using as many keywords as you can for your target audience. Don’t forget to include a strong call to action.
  • Pepper in some lives, and when you do, try to get as many reactions as you can. The best way to do that is to ask for reactions in response to something emotional that people connect with. Experiences that we all have, nostalgia, something exciting. When you can feel the emotional momentum is up, and you’re on a roll, that’s the time to ask. We have a step-by-step training on this in the Social Strategy Squad.
  • Whenever someone interacts with your content, be sure to invite them to like your page! That’s how you really grow!
  • For smaller pages, remove all unqualified likes, which is people you know aren’t your audience. If you have more than 5000 likes that are all non-qualified, you will want to consider starting a new page, since this one will be hard to resurrect.

What if I already did a lot of ladders?

If you already did a lot of like ladders and page like campaigns I would do a few things. First, look at the engagement on your page. If you are getting a lot of engagement from your actual target audience, then you may be a statistical anomaly, and you don’t need to do anything.

But if its always crickets for you, then you’ll want to consider starting a new page. If your page is 300 likes or less, you can either carry on with this page, or you can start a new one. Either way would work. If your page likes are at 1,000+ then I would recommend just starting a new page since it’ll be tough for you to change the distribution of likes from non-relevant likes to relevant likes in a short period of time.


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