More Page Likes to Digital Success—A Persistent Advertising Mistake

Foto Ann-Cathrin Jesch @ Webrepublic AG)

Ann-Cathrin Jesch

People often see page likes on Facebook or followers on Instagram as indicators of digital success, but they say little. These are the metrics you should keep an eye on instead.

For years, Facebook company site owners have been working hard to collect as many likes as possible. After all, people often see the number of Facebook page likes as an indicator of a company's digital success—often also as a success metric compared to the competition. In addition, many brands still believe that a large fan base automatically leads to higher visibility of their content.

However, the number of fans of a Facebook page does not tell us much about the really important questions that brands should be dealing with: namely, how active your community is or whether the company's goals have actually been achieved. As reasons why the likes are still used as success indicators, we often hear: the number of likes or followers is visible for everyone, doesn't have to be explained to anyone anymore, and is easy to visualize.


Page operators reach fewer and fewer fans

Since the latest big update of the Facebook algorithm at the beginning of 2018, it is more difficult for site operators to reach their fans via the timeline. Some pages reported a slump of up to 80% in the reach of their posts. Postings of larger Facebook pages reach only 3–8% of their fans organically, and the trend is downward. Those who have a smaller number of fans can sometimes reach more than 8% organically. The general rule is, if you want more reach, you have to pay. Mark Zuckerberg himself said that with this algorithm he wanted users to see more relevant and valuable content, which means private profiles show in the timeline more than corporate sites do.


“Many fans” is not a business goal

A popular way to increase the number of page likes is to advertise your page and its like button. In Switzerland, a page-like achieved in this way only costs around one franc. In addition, Facebook does not necessarily play out these ads to users who might be particularly interested in the page, but often simply to users who tend to like pages quickly in general. A “purchased” fan is therefore not necessarily interested in the company's content, and it is even less likely that he or she will want to buy its products.

A simple calculation example also shows that attracting fans is hardly worthwhile financially: for one thousand new fans—many of them so-called “clickies” who tend to like pages in general—a site operator pays around one thousand francs. With the same budget, however, you could also target specific users and play 1,000,000 impressions within a relevant audience and, for example, reach 450,000 unique users who could then be made aware of the new product. In this way, the money would certainly be invested in a more target-oriented way!

The total number of fans is therefore (almost) insignificant. With the increase in page likes, no relevant business goals are reached. Instead, brands should think about” How does the target group coincide at all with the existing followers? How many of the followers are really customers? How many of the followers could become customers in the future?


These metrics should be better monitored by site operators

Marketing specialists and site operators must define clear business goals and align their campaigns accordingly. Anyone launching a new brand or product should keep an eye on brand awareness and reach. If users are to be convinced by a product or provided with more information about it, then video views or traffic to your own website are relevant metrics, for example.

Post-commitment is a metric well suited for companies that generally want more interaction with their community. If, however, the aim is to increase online sales, then you should measure success directly on the basis of conversions.

Whether they are called Page Likers or Subscribers, it's still not wrong to have fans on Facebook or Instagram. But using them as a goal or metric for digital, or even general business, success makes little sense.

Suitable metrics for social media

Site operators must clearly define their business goals and keep an eye on the corresponding metrics.

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