Updated 17 February 2020
We can argue that Facebook’s algorithm is hurting us by reducing ‘reach’ and how many see our posts, yet in fact, it is helping us – especially those of us who understand marketing. The point of Facebook’s algorithm isn’t to be punitive. It’s designed to be corrective. It is designed to benefit the user, to show them what they want to see, what is truly relevant to them.
Think about what you see and interact with in your feed. That content is either something of real interest or top of mind. You may see the rest, but you’ll likely skip it. Facebook sees this. In an attempt to not waste your time, they track your behavior on the platform (what you post, your likes, comments, shares) and on Google (via a tracking pixel and other data gathering techniques).
This data allows them to determine what content is most relevant – or important – to you. It is this content you see.
What this means for your brand
If you, as a user limit your activity to only what is important or relevant to you, and you see less of what isn’t, the same applies for your fans.
If you ask everyone to like your page, you can expect most will never see your content. Asking people to like your page out of courtesy or support may seem like a good idea, but where is the value to you when you get nothing from it?
There is the argument that the larger the following or fan base, the more credibility a brand has. That MAY be the case though we’d argue the opposite:
If you saw a brand with little to no activity on their content, what would that say to you? To us it says no one is interested. Like a two bars on a street. If one is ‘alive’, music playing with people having fun and the other dark and quiet even though it has a bigger crowd, where would you go? The latter would make you question what is happening there.
While a ‘larger’ brand, possibly the better company and with more credibility than their competitors, that is not how the brand is perceived. They created a ‘disconnect’ and human behavior will reinforce it.
Asking for likes reduces reach, but the real impact is the lost credibility.
Future danger in asking for random ‘Likes’
Facebook is aware of our behavior. They are aware of the practice in asking for likes.
It is not unreasonable to theorize they also see who we are asking. There is enough data to show the likes being requested are from people who would never find the content we share as relevant and therefore, likely never see in a feed.
The question is, how is Facebook treating the practice? They could see it as nothing more than poor marketing and letting the lack of reach be the negative to the brand. Or it could be penalizing the brand’s page.
That not seem logical until you consider that Facebook could see asking for likes as an attempt to ‘beat the algorithm’. Given that many ask for those likes for that very reason, they’d be justified. There is still an unknown as to how this practice affects paid results and could reduce ad income for Facebook.
Facebook’s response to the practice
Facebook hasn’t stated they are taking action or penalizing brands for the practice, yet based on evidence over the past couple of years with pages we follow, we have little doubt they are.
How are they responding? By further limiting the reach of content from those brand pages. The algorithm already limits reach based on relevance. What we suspect Facebook has done is add another layer into the algorithm.
Google’s search algorithm is essentially layered as well – will content rank and will it stay ranked. Most content creators and SEO types are so focused on earning a place on page one that they fail to consider one key factor. Will it convert?
That is critical. Content which fails to convert or does so at such a nominal level, indicates it has little value (it’s immaterial if it does or the meta description fails to indicate it does). In time, that content will drop from search results pages.
Our theory is that Facebook sees pages with a high fan base having little relevant connection to the published content as so unlikely to convert, that the content will never be shown – even if it is valuable, timely, shareable, and potentially relevant to some.
Should you stop asking for likes
Absolutely not! You need to stop asking anyone and everyone to like your page. Start targeting those who will naturally find your content relevant. You’ll see a smaller fan base, yet more engagement and a better conversion rate. You’ll reach the RIGHT people.
Long-term, these fans will, through their actions on and interaction with your page help drive your following organically. Add in quality social networking and you’ll see results.
And as far as the argument that having friends like your page as a show of support? Rather than asking them to like the page (unless your content is relevant to them), ask them to like a post, comment on one, or share a post now and again. The increased engagement is a big indication to Facebook that the content has value. It will get shown more to your fans (that well targeted audience).
That interaction will also expose your content to a bigger audience, likely earning more targeted likes.
Take the time to do this right and we can tell you effective reach and engagement will easily be greater than 15-20%.
And if you have already amassed a fan base? Purge it! (Not sure how? Ask us.)