Updated 16 January 2018

Your likes are worthless.

Worse, they are hurting your efforts.


Stop asking everyone to like your Facebook pages! It's damn annoying and adversely affects your 'reach'.Click To Tweet


If you haven’t decided I am completely off my rocker and are still reading, I’ll explain why (and it might just make sense – and if I am right?)

When Facebook launched pages, Liking a page was required to comment. Asking for likes made sense.

After the requirement to like pages to engage was dropped, likes still mattered. Those who liked your page saw your content. You WANTED likes and again, asking was the best way to get them.

Fast forward to Facebook’s big algorithm shifts in 2012,  the one in 2015. and 2018. The changes meant an individual liking a page would not be guaranteed to see its content. Facebook’s decision to ‘restrict’ or ‘choose’ what content is seen means likes have far less value.

And with the announcement by Mr. Zuckerburg that Facebook will start to show users more posts from their friends and family in the News Feed, a move that means people will see fewer posts from publishers and brands,‘ likes will carry even LESS value.


Less value, yet not worthless.

I did say likes were worthless, and that is not entirely true. They still have an iota of value.

Page likes still mean the opportunity to get your content seen in the news feed (though there are better ways to get visibility), so you still want them. The difference now – you no longer want to ASK for them. Why?  A little something called ‘relevance’.

Timeliness. Shareability. Relevance.

Facebook determines what shows in a fan’s feed based on 3 factors: Timeliness. Shareability. Relevance.

There are effective tricks to get around the timely and shareable factors. There is no way around the relevance issue. Your content, at the time it is posted, is either relevant to your audience or it is not.

So how does Facebook determine what is relevant?

Data. They have data. They have it and lots of it. Most of it we willingly provide.

Those lists of books, movies, sports teams, etc you like? Facebook combines that information with your actions – what you like, what you comment on, pages you like, what you search for, who you are friends with, what you share – and then adds in everywhere you go on Google (there is something called a tracking pixel website owners can add to allow Facebook to track visitors to their pages for ad targeting – but it also means Facebook knows your every move – FYI we will never install those tracking pixels to protect your privacy).

All of this data means Facebook knows your habits, interests, needs, wants, and who knows what else, at any given moment. Content which fits this ‘profile’ is considered relevant and will (potentially) be seen.


At a bare minimum, asking for likes is worthless.


I will place bets that most of the people you ask to like your page do so as a courtesy (as you do when they ask) and not because they find your content relevant or of value to them.

And per Facebook’s algorithm, those fans (the ones you asked to like your page) will probably never see your content.

So why even bother asking?

I get the ‘more likes look better’ factor, the ‘feel better/ego’ factor (‘yay, I’m loved’) and the ‘credibility’ factor – more fans make the brand look better.

Though it is nothing more than window dressing. If more fans do not equate to more visibility and interaction – it is nothing short of a vanity number. Why even put effort into something of little real value?

The real pitfall in asking.

Facebook’s algorithm, like Google’s, keeps changing to prevent gaming the system. They want engagement and interaction to be purely natural and organic. Asking for likes is not organic! Yes, they allow it – because they do not care if you invite others for whom your content is truly relevant.

Joe, I am inviting you to my page. After speaking I think my content would interest and might be of value to you.  That’s great.

Joe, I met you last week at a networking event, will you like my page?  Not so great.

Beyond not great – it is actually bad. Very bad.

What do you think Facebook sees when you invite 100 people (or everyone you meet) to like your page when they know your content is not relevant to them?

Me? I think they see you trying to game the system – exactly what they are trying to prevent. That makes the practice ‘black-hat’ as I see it, even if Facebook won’t come out and say it.


Asking for others to like your Facebook page could be hurting your efforts by limiting posts from being seenClick To Tweet


While they won’t blacklist your page…..there is no doubt in my mind they are blacklisting your content. I have admin rights on 25+ pages. I know which page owners ask for likes and which follow my line of thinking. Anecdotally, I can tell you, those who ask see lower overall effective reach (and engagement), regardless of the content quality.


With Facebook content already unlikely to be seen in feeds and the possibility you could be doing harm asking for likes, why risk it?Click To Tweet


If the feel-good/ego factor is in play, I can tell you it feels far better earning likes than getting them by asking.

How do you get your content seen? Try social networking.

10 replies
  1. Debra A. Jason
    Debra A. Jason says:

    For a while many folks would “like” my page and then say, “Hi, I liked yours now will you like mine?”
    I’d prefer to have people like my page because they resonate with my message and get value from what I share – not because they only want someone to go and ‘like’ their own page. I believe in reciprocity, but it’s also important to like those pages because you truly “like” them and the information they share.

    • Robert Nissenbaum
      Robert Nissenbaum says:

      I used to see that as well. It was a nice little tactic to get likes. And I agree, I would also prefer likes because my content provides value to them. There is definitely a fine balance between liking a page for reciprocity (the relationship factor) and liking pages for the value (what would be beneficial to them in the long term).

      Thank you Debra

  2. carolstephen
    carolstephen says:

    Hi Robert,

    You certainly don’t want people to feel obligated to like your page. I sometimes like pages out of obligation as well, even though I may have zero interest in the subject matter. And sometimes I wince at the kind of content that people post–so much so that I hide certain posts. I’m sure I’m not alone in doing that.

    Good analysis.

    Thank you,

    • Robert Nissenbaum
      Robert Nissenbaum says:

      Thank you Carol. I think we all like pages out of obligation at some point. You did illustrate another great reason NOT to ask people. If they do like your page and see the content, hiding posts and especially hiding all posts is sending negative feedback to Facebook. That feedback can lead to fewer seeing the content – especially if it comes from a fan!


  3. Deborah L. Olive
    Deborah L. Olive says:

    Robert, I appreciate your line of questioning and unique conclusions regarding social media. You’re thoughts help me engage social media with greater intention. Over time that adds up to better results.

  4. Clement Lim
    Clement Lim says:

    Hi Robert

    Excellent article!

    Very interesting that Facebook’s algorithm is sophisticated enough to detect the difference between organic and inorganic likes. I see it as a positive development. It forces digital marketers to focus on producing quality content instead of trying to game the system.

    I see a parallel in the field of SEO where Google has been moving in this direction for some time now.



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