What is the Value of a Like? Maybe Nothing…

Facebook Like ButtonLike. Like this link. Like if you agree. Like my page. Like my status.

Many professionals in the field of marketing have spent countless hours calculating the value of a “Like” and, should you so desire, there are equations out there that can help you figure out, to the dollar, just how much each Like on your business fan page is worth.

(Whether or not it’s worth your time and effort to figure out such a number is a post for another day…so, onward.)

Ding, Ding. (Drool.)

I’ve been thinking lately that we, as a society, are much more like Pavlov’s dog than we’d like to admit.

Many of the actions that we take on Social Media–and Facebook, in particular–are a result of rote habit and rarely reflect our truest feelings about the businesses or causes we say we “Like.”

A Like…does it really mean I LIKE-like you?

Brand AdvocacyI may feel truly phlegmatic about your latest status update, but may click Like because I’m bored…which conveys the message to you that I have an emotion, leaning, or other positive thought about what you have to say or share.

Conversely, a Like can carry far more emotional weight depending on how much credence an individual is willing to give a .2 second action from a friend, fan or follower.

For instance, I know people who can tell you at any given moment the number of Likes on their latest photo or update…and will literally have negative feelings if the number does not reach a certain amount, OR if someone they were HOPING would like their status, doesn’t.

Likes are still valuable…sort of.

My point is not to say that Likes aren’t valuable, or that setting a goal to achieve a certain amount of Likes on your page isn’t worthwhile.

What I am saying is that the Like can’t be the be-all, end-all metric for success…and it can’t necessarily be a true emotional barometer about how your customers feel about your company, products or services.

One of the mindshifts that I’ve both loved and hated the most in the last several years was that Social Media was not about “conversation,” but is instead about “connection.”

There is a part of me that loves the idea that any message, any piece of content that we publish to our customers, can be a point of “connection.” That even the very act of one of our carefully crafted status updates showing in their feeds can be a way for us to communicate our brand to them.

But there’s the other part of me that misses the days when people and businesses leveraged Social Media to encourage real, one-to-one conversation…an actual comment on a blog post, a video response on YouTube, an @reply.

And it’s not as if those conversations don’t happen anymore, but I think, too often, we settle for the immediate emotional payoff of a click, when in reality a click can have very little meaning.

How much “work” is a Like?

NoseThink about it…Liking something requires less movement of your finger than it takes to itch your nose. Less mental effort than tabbing over to the Word doc you’re supposed to be working on. Less time than opening an email.

In fact in requires so little actual exertion, a lackadaisical customer can convey “enjoyment” of your product just as easily as one of your most cherished advocates…and yet each person can have completely different intent behind their click.

The dissatisfied customer may have been bored, clicking out of habit, or in some cases (and yes, I’ve seen this happen) clicking to prove some kind of weird point to someone else.

The conclusion. I’m getting to it, I swear. Srsly.

All that to say, it’s not that “Likes” are without value. On Facebook in particular, Likes are an important factor in the EdgeRank algorithm and help to determine whether your content appears in your fan’s feeds.

But they can’t be everything…and they can never quite pinpoint the true sentiment of your community, which can range from wildly enthusiastic to, “Oh, my friend Likes this, I guess I do, too. Meh.”

So to me, if a Like can’t truly capture REAL sentiment, it means that we have to create the kind of content that demands more effort from our customers…

…content that is so compelling, people can’t wait to give their opinion or feedback…

…content that is valuable enough to root out how our clients, customers and fans really feel about us…

someecards.com - I'm going to the gym so I can tell you I'm going to the gym.…content that elicits a greater, more thoughtful response than the same regard they’d give yet another Some Ecard in their feed (which, let’s be honest, are still hilarious)…

…content that doesn’t settle for an “average response rate,” but instead savvily employs targeted Calls to Action, open-ended questions, and the opportunity for fans to give their opinions or share their feelings…even if it’s negative.

It’s a little scary, sure, but when you marry sound marketing strategy with proven tactics and then throw in a generous heap of creativity, you have a winning combination that demands that your fans give you attention beyond the click of a button.

So, sure, a Like is certainly valuable, and yes it makes you feel good. But challenge yourself and your business to be compelling enough that people start demanding that Facebook install a “Love” button.

Storer, out.

Sarah is a TKG Content Strategist, a veteran blogger of love, life, and unicorns since way back in 2001. On the blog, you can follow her thoughts on content marketing, corporate identity, how to story-tell effectively, and yes, the occasional unicorn.

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