This is a sort of follow-up to the stuff I wrote about making my updates public. I’m not a social media planner, but this is something that constantly came up at work, so I wanted to put it to rest.
Anyone remember a time when liking pages was a statement about yourself? It was when brands or artists hadn’t taken them over and they were just placeholders. You were a ‘fan’, not a ‘follower’ as far as terminology went. Anyone visiting your profile would see a list of everything you liked (eg films, music), rather than a square thumbnail.
There was no one there updating the pages, so you just liked indiscriminately, which is why there used to be a limit of 500 likes.
It was very easy with music, books, etc. You made a statement about what music you liked by becoming a fan of all the artists you regularly listened to. You could easily add stuff and before you knew it, you listed 30 or more. On the whole, it said “Yeah, everyone – this is me + my music.”
Then the pages started being claimed by artists or brands. Whereas before you liked McDonald’s, KFC, TGI Fridays and Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Giraffe as a way of saying “People: this is where I like to eat, it’s delicious, seriously”, you weren’t quite ready for putting up with every other restaurant updating their wall 2-3 times a day, every day, asking you to like and comment on things. Or you could unlike the ones you weren’t really that interested in.
You could also hide them from your feed and still be counted as a follower in someone’s powerpoint presentation somewhere, making them wonder why the engagement is so LOW (or any other phrase you like).
When you do that, you quickly realise that:
- No one visits your profile to see what you like. They are too busy with theirs to check what you like or don’t.
- Just because you went somewhere once for a birthday and it was nice doesn’t mean you will become its fan. You enjoy it and have nothing against it, but that’s about it.
I dislike writing this because it seems obvious – some places, services and things are enjoyable, you can have a pleasant experience, but the reality is that you won’t see or use them again. Or very rarely. It’s not the same as keeping books on your shelf because you like seeing them there (and guests seeing them too). My copy of Murakami doesn’t scream at me ‘Look, I got featured in the NYTimes’ and I like it that way. I liked a nice restaurant in Paris but I don’t want weekly french updates on what the menu for the week is going to be.
It is what it is: people just look, but they don’t feel compelled to do much, not immediately anyway. This is a real downer if you have to explain why to a room full of people paying you to do it and actively monitor it. Facebook insight gives you cold hard facts: people see your updates, they just don’t do anything as soon as you want them to.
They might click like if they’re slightly buzzed. You don’t know why they’re not bothered, even if – even if – the people who actually buy or use your brand/service are very happy. I’d love to see some qualitative research into this. I fear the explanation is as common sense as we all think it is.
And I think it’s something not looked into enough: a small study of 1500 people (US) said that the ‘average’ person on facebook likes 8-9 pages. It’s not perfect, it’s all dealing in averages but it sounds about right. You could say 15 and it would still be ok, but any more is suspicious. To keep track of 15 brands and their regular updates on top of your also ‘average’ 229 friends is like a second job. Even with less it’d be a chore.
Excuse me, but I don’t want that – why would anyone in their right mind want that?
You can’t force someone to be friends with their yogurt on facebook if there are other things that matter more in their life. The trap is usually to ‘see what other yogurt brands are doing’ and ‘be more like them’. If you’ve never been anything like them, what makes people think that drowning in a sea of sameness is a good idea? Or that you will instantly be as good as them?
It’s not – there’s a limit to how much people can follow. And as others have been saying: just because you can measure this stuff and take it into account doesn’t mean you should.