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.