What You Need To Know About Facebook Likes Versus Facebook Engagement

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I made a post in my online mastermind group recently that really got people talking!  It had to do with the idea of likes versus true engagement on Facebook Fan Pages. So what do you need to about Facebook likes versus real Facebook engagement?

When you judge a Fan page in terms of how it’s being received by the audience, what comes to mind?  Of course one of the first metrics of a Fan page has to do with the number of likes it’s received, right? While seeing a nice high number for the likes is one measure of interaction with your ideal client, I’m here to tell you, there’s more than meets the eye to that number.

Let’s look at it at the most basic level. Likes can be bought.  (Note that I’m NOT recommending you do this; nothing could be farther from the truth!) But because likes can be bought, they’re not exactly the most reliable judge of engagement level on a Fan page.

Not too long ago, I was looking at a small business web page with tens of thousands of likes. Curious to know more, I clicked the app for likes, wanting to know more about who was liking this particular business.  One thing really caught my eye – the “Most Popular City” listing that can be a good piece of information for someone who markets in a specific city.

To my surprise – the most popular city was in another country, and it didn’t seem like the large number of likes from another country matched up well with the target audience of this particular business.

In other words  – it looked like the likes had been bought, rather than earned.

This crossed my mind again today.  After the presidential election, the Washington Post reported that Mitt Romney’s Facebook likes have been dropping pretty quickly. 

To some extent he’s lucky. Normally, if people don’t like you’re brand for some reason or another, they simply stop engaging with your brand. In most cases, they don’t actually take the time to “unlike” your page unless you’ve done something outright offensive to them.  So whether or not he chooses to engage in political endeavours down the road, at least this way he has a more accurate picture of his number of connections.

Both of these incidents really emphasize what I say over and over again – engagement beats likes, anytime, hands down.

So how do you define what an engaged community is?

Honestly, it’s about more than the numbers.  If you put aside the issue of buying likes and just look at what a like, a share, or a comment is, it’s a one-time interaction with your brand. It can be helpful to see who’s hearing your message, but it’s not the end goal you’re looking for. Maybe even those numbers are the wrong thing to measure, at least by themselves.

What  is the #1 Sign of an Engaged Community?

There are many signs of an engaged community that marketers can track; some of them are easier than others to check.  Things like shift in customer sentiment, customer satisfaction, referrals, conversions, leads, etc. 

But I think it can be much easier than that.  It’s all in the conversations.

Conversations With Your Audience

A truly engaged Fan page features a variety of conversations, starting with the conversation between the brand and the customer. And I’m not talking about a constant stream of posts about your product or service, either!  A conversation has give and take, and your interaction with your customers on your Fan page wall should reflect that conversation.

Conversations Among Your Audience

This is huge, in my mind. Not only do engaged communities feature conversation between the brand and the customer, but they involve conversations between audience members, as well. These are the best, most naturally engaged kinds of pages.

What do you think?  How is your engagement looking, and how are you measuring it?  I’d love to hear back from you; leave a comment below.  

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