What happens when your social proof goes poof? How heavily does the success of your business depend on your Facebook marketing strategy? Hundreds of businesses use their Facebook “Like” count to build trust with their customers and as a result that’s their main method of initializing engagement.
How many times have you received a postcard from a business that says, “Like” our Facebook page or perhaps seen it plastered on the side of a car, in a brochure, on a flyer?
It’s simple and it’s easy: Find us. Like us.
For a long time, getting as many Facebook likes as possible has been the primary goal for many businesses. It’s such a small thing to ask of your customers, “Go like our Facebook page!” It takes one click and you’re done. What was a low commitment on behalf of consumers, made a significant impact for small business owners.
A high number of likes definitely meant that people know you, trust you, and of course, like you. To see a business with thousands of likes gave you a sense that you were entering into a community of people that were just like you. It’s comforting to know that you’ve fallen in love with a brand only to find that over 10,000 other people have also.
It gave people a sense of personal confirmation that you know good stuff when you come across it.
What’s The Deal With Facebook Likes?
Reportedly, it’s been confirmed that Facebook may be removing the “Likes” count from Facebook Fan Page profiles.
— Evert Groot 🙃🎵 (@absoluut) October 21, 2016
This means that users can no longer see how many people have taken the time to “Like” your facebook page. It can no longer be used to build trust among potential customers and your number of likes no longer holds much weight with Facebook.
This isn’t definitive yet, as it is still in the testing stages.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because “Likes” simply don’t tell the full story. It doesn’t say whether the page is active, responsive to their community, or even if they will add value to your timeline. Sometimes you aren’t even sure what exactly you’re liking. Many times, the content on a Facebook page has nothing to do with why you’re liking it in the first place.
The first example that comes to mind is Trina, with 8 million likes, hardly any of her Facebook posts are about her. In fact, they’re about other celebrities and other trending news.
The reason for eliminating the “Like” count from Facebook may even be a little more personal. Maybe they’ve become concerned about the stigma behind this feature because people have been overanalyzing the meaning behind a “Like”, as they did with Zuckerberg.
Why Facebook (and other social media) shouldn’t be your main strategy.
Social media is growing faster than ever. This year alone, there have been several major changes from Instagram stories to new Pinterest algorithms. Facebook has adopted a “Pay to Play” culture where your content won’t be seen unless you’re paying for it to appear predominantly in your audience’s feed (but, wasn’t that the whole point of “Liking” a page?).
Social media platforms are always figuring out ways to enrich the user experience, but those interests don’t always align with yours. When Facebook rearranged the timelines of its users, they surely did not take into account that people wouldn’t see your very important updates in real-time.
Entrepreneurs that rely solely on social media platforms like Facebook constantly have to find a way to outsmart the network— to get to their audience on the other side of this huge wall that just keeps getting taller and wider.
Aside from being unable to get in front of potential customers, there’s a larger risk to consider. There have been many businesses whose income dried up when a new update was applied to a social media platform. It’s shaky, and it’s risky for you and your family.
With Facebook likes removed, how do you minimize the effect is has on your business?
If Facebook moves forward with their decision to eliminate Facebook likes, you should be prepared now. As a matter of fact, you should be prepared even if they never remove the Facebook “Like” feature. Websites like Follower Wonk have a better way of judging how well you’ve cultivated your social media presence, and that’s something called social authority:
The core of every business’ online success is how well you can influence your audience to do something.
There are a lot of factors that go into your social authority, but as a rule of thumb, you should focus on how involved you are with your audience and how well they respond to you.
THINK BRANDING NOT BUSINESS
Think of how we consume ads— we hear them as they interrupt our personal form of auditory entertainment (radio), we see them as we scroll through our personal feed (social media networks), we suffer through them in order to get to the rest of our program on TV. Ads by nature are obtrusive. We’re powerless to remove them and we have no choice but to consume them.
What are some ways you can increase your engagement on Facebook?
When coming up with social media strategy, don’t focus so much on producing ads because organic content almost always converts better. The key is to blend in with your audience’s personal content rather than interrupting it.
Use real photos (especially when they’re candid)
Allegedly, Mcdonalds is no longer using perfect photos because they’ve come to the understanding that millennials don’t trust staged material anymore.
— Mark C. Crowley (@MarkCCrowley) October 16, 2016
Relate to your audience by telling your own stories and stories of your customers. When users are on Facebook, they are actively involving themselves in the lives of others. Essentially, Facebook gives them a connection to the worlds of other people — primarily their friends and family.
Instead of creating a huge campaign to announce a sale, warm your customers up by telling them a story and organically mention the discount in the midst of it, then again at the end.
The best way to incentivize your audience to interact immediately is by giving them a voice within your community. There is a wide range of questions you can ask: yes/no questions or preference questions (which is your favorite; 1,2, 3, or 4?).
Use Facebook Live
Facebook live allows you to communicate with your audience in real time, answer questions, and give them information in a very unrehearsed way. This is a good alternative, now that Google Hangouts have removed Hangouts on Air.
Respond to comments
If you can, respond to as many comments as possible. Put the “social” back into social media by genuinely injecting your personality in your responses. I understand how big of a time-sucker Facebook can be. At the very least, “like” thoughtful comments and only respond to the users that have a question.
Add variety to your content
A well cultivated Facebook feed includes a variety of posts. Facebook thrives on community unlike other broadcast-oriented social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram. Facebook, by design, encourages meaningful and personal interactions. Don’t be afraid to share topics that are important to you. Have an opinion on trending topics and keep your audience in the loop as you document the progress of your business.
How Worried Should You Be?
Right now, Facebook is simply testing out the removal of “Likes” from Facebook pages. The possibility of this change means you might want to rethink how you use Facebook for your business. It would be wise to look at how you use all social media platforms— focusing on interaction & engagement instead of numbers.