Do Your Facebook Fans Really Like You That Much?

Day after day, in discussions about Facebook and other such social community sites, one recurring theme keeps popping to the surface.  The pronouncement, usually delivered with near- panic emphasis, sounds something like this: “we’ve got to increase our number of Facebook “Likes”! I sometimes wonder what the speaker thinks might happen if they didn’t accomplish that goal.

Apparently, the almost universal assumption is that once a person “likes” your page, they are going to keep returning again and again to discover what kind of vital information you will be imparting to them next.  Is anything any of us says or writes on a regular basis ever quite THAT important?  And the real truth is that a “like” on a page doesn’t guarantee that the new fan will ever come back to that page and participate, or even read any of your updates. In fact, statistics show that it’s usually not the case at all.  A recent AdAge article cited a study that demonstrated that only 1% of fans on the biggest brand pages actually engage with the brand at all.  Similar studies have indicated that as few as .5% of those who “Like” a page will even take the time to return to that page – ever!

Now I don’t want to insinuate that “Likes” are never important.  It’s obviously true that the more Likes you have, the more people your message is reaching.  But it’s really only part of the equation.  What difference does it make, for instance, if you’ve accumulated hundreds or even thousands of Likes for your brand page and very few of them are the right target audience?  And if they are the proper community of advocates, are you sure they are engaging with your regular message and passing that message on to their peers?  If they aren’t, the real value of a “Like’ is somewhat limited.

So then what causes someone to ‘Like’ something in the first place? The answer seems kind of obvious, doesn’t it?  They ‘Like’ it because they like it. Believe it or not, they might even agree with what you are saying. It may be an exciting piece of news that they latch on to.  Maybe it’s a subject they want to know more about. Or, maybe they want to get the FREE stuff you’re offering, win your contests, support your social agenda, or just lend you, their friend, some   well-deserved support. In other words, they found something that attracted them to your page and then made the decision to acknowledge they had visited.  They did NOT, however, pledge their binding commitment to you for eternity!

What we’re really looking to keep is plenty of continued engagement.  Did your reader leave a comment?  Did they return once the contest or promotion was over? Did they purchase, lease, or express further interest in your product or service?  Are you continuing to provide them with great content that will draw them, and possibly their friend, to your page again?

The bottom line is…Don’t just become a collector of fans and likes.  Help your new community accomplish something together!  They’ve already taken an important step and acknowledged they are now a part of your group.  To some degree, they’re now waiting for you to continually define what the next steps should be in your relationship.  Make sure you let them know what those steps should be.  Make sure they know they are always cared for and appreciated, as well as “Liked.” Make those Likes actually mean something!

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