Why You Need To Stop Asking For Facebook Page Likes

Updated 17 February 2020

When people say Facebook doesn’t work or that reach and engagement is down, it’s a clear indication to us they (or their social media managers) do not understand how to use it properly.
The problem lies with not creating content relevant to their audience (those who liked their page). How is that when they post content related to their brand?
Their audience isn’t interested in it.
Rather than cultivating a targeted audience – people who would be interested and likely to buy – they opted to go for ‘big numbers’. they effectively sabotaged their efforts. 

To be clear, page likes still carry value. The critical piece to understand is the number of likes is worthless unless they are targeted. It’s not how many likes you have. It’s who likes your page. Likes have little marketing value if they are all from people who have no interest in your product or service.

You need a targeted audience to see your message if you expect to convert. Most marketers understand this concept when it comes to traditional approaches, yet they and the average small business owner and worse, social media marketers, seem to think numbers matter more for social media marketing.

They ask everyone to like their pages. They dilute their audience reducing those they can reach (the people truly interested in your content and likely to be a customer) and the subsequent engagement. It’s not Facebook, it’s the page owner at fault!

The algorithm

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.)

15 replies
  1. akbarali
    akbarali says:

    Robert, I appreciate the series of questions about social media and the unique decisions you make to help me engage in social media with a broader purpose. Over time, this can lead to better results.

  2. Geovanni
    Geovanni says:

    I just see this as a nice way to sugarcoat Facebooks controlling tactics, and still just a game perpetuating the use of tactics that Facebook deems “good content”. Once my Facebook and IG posts got a great number of responses, suddenly this algorithm comes into play and I struggle for every single interaction and I am told it is to create a better experience for me and my users? How is hurting my reach doing that?

    • Robert Nissenbaum
      Robert Nissenbaum says:

      Geovanni, The algorithm has been in play since 2009. It’s modified as people have tried to ‘game’ the system. The key to reach is to get the interaction first – not relying on content to show in feeds to get interaction. Content Facebook sees as engaging – content getting engagement – Facebook sees as having value and then pushes in the feed. Yes, that starts with quality content. How do you get that interaction? Drive page views. That is done through active social networking. It’s been at the core of what I have taught for years and when done, the algorithm is not an issue.

      Adding fans will not increase reach UNLESS they are highly targeted AND all of your content is relevant to them. Ask randomly and Facebook thinks you are gaming the system – hence why asking hurts, rather than helps.

      Facebook marketing is highly effective but requires time and effort. It requires good marketing practices and high quality content.


  3. facebook
    facebook says:

    Actually there are two types of Facebook “like”. sometime people only like without any intention just for invitation or goodwill that is no matter.
    But the “like” which is given by actual audience is matter of fact. We could be in touch with our actual audience by this. Sometime people buy ” like”but this is not organic way to reach your audience. you need to do follow up with your audience by analysis. make attractive business page. post video,photo, right good content these are the things which are actually help to get organic like.

  4. 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

  5. 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!


  6. 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.

  7. 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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