If you are an networking entrepreneur on Facebook, you’ve no doubt seen the practice of “likes for likes.” It exists on other platforms, too. Twitter has “follow for a follow”; bloggers do “comments for comments.” The practice is in place to get your numbers up so you look more popular to the social media platforms and to sponsors, but it is really, totally killing your marketing.
I’m going to focus on Facebook here because I think it is the most robust when it comes to algorithms. Facebook delivers content from our professional pages to those who like the page. The more engagement you get on Post A determines the number of people to whom Facebook delivers Post B. LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus, and Instagram all deliver in timeline format. If I post at 2PM and you are there at 2PM you see what I said. Facebook makes those decisions; those who “like” your content see it when Facebook deems appropriate.
So why shouldn’t you do likes for likes? Because if I’m only liking your page because I want you to like mine, eventually (or even immediately) I will stop engaging with your content. (There are ways to hide pages without unliking them and I have done just that.) Now you have a page where a percentage isn’t engaging with you ever and #boom, Facebook sees your page and your content as irrelevant and won’t deliver your posts as far as if you had a community of people who organically found you and liked your content and commented on the things you share.
But there’s more. This practice is killing your Facebook marketing and that’s a bad thing. So before you ask someone to like your page just because you want to be one of the cool kids, think about these effects on your marketing:
1. Your audience is a mystery to Facebook. Have you decided to try Facebook ads and can’t seem to figure out why the target audience isn’t engaging or buying or signing up for your newsletters? It’s because you have a bunch of clutter in your sales funnel. Facebook uses the people who like your page to figure out your target audience. Yes, you have a say in the audience when you buy the ad, but all those likes from people who have no interest in you or that aren’t truly your target are being seen by Facebook’s algorithms. In essence you are paying for those likes with your ad dollars.
2. You are burning your energy trying to get those likes to engage with you.When you look at your analytics for your Facebook page, you see 500 or 5,000 or God bless you, 50,000 people, but your post only reached 80% of them let’s say. So what do you do? You go into a panic trying to make your visuals better, your updates more frequent, your references more relevant when that 80% is the only real audience that you actually have; everyone else is there because you had to have an even number and begged people to follow you.
3. Your community looks weak. If you go to a concert and only half the people are paying attention to the main stage and everyone else is checking out some guy in the back doing spoken word, you’d assume the person on the main stage couldn’t hold the attention of the crowd. As a sponsor you’d book the spoken word guy for the next gig, yes? Same thing with your Facebook audience. If you can’t hold their attention, when a sponsor (or even a potential comes to your page to find out what kind of sway you have, they don’t see anyone paying attention to you. Yes, without likes for likes you have a smaller audience, but they are all paying rapt attention to what you have to say. Pay attention to them instead of empty “likes” and you might just like the outcome.