Got a Facebook page? Here’s a fun little 30-second experiment.
Head over to your page and check many likes it has. You know where to look:
They should be right there – but they might not be.
In fact, they may be TOTALLY GONE.
Facebook has recently started experimenting with eliminating the total number of likes from pages – not deleting them, but not displaying them, either.
Facebook is now hiding/not displaying the Total Likes number on Pages pic.twitter.com/zjyf94WQbB
— Matt Navarra ⭐️ (@MattNavarra) October 21, 2016
Some users and pages may find that those likes aren’t showing up anymore – and whether or not Facebook makes this permanent, it says a lot about their attitude toward likes.
So, what’s the message here? What’s Facebook really trying to tell us with this – and how should that influence what you’re doing there?
Over the past few years, Facebook has developed kind of a love/hate relationship with page likes.
They make sense in theory – you like a page, and Facebook might show you some of that page’s updates in your News Feed.
In practice, though, page likes aren’t always legit, and time and again, Facebook has had to contend with pages that’ll do anything for a virtual thumbs-up.
In 2014, for example, they had to take away the option of like-gating, or making certain content (like contests) available only to people who have liked a certain page.
They’ve also had to regularly identify and delete page likes from fake accounts, which number in the hundreds of millions.
So while page likes are supposed to serve a practical purpose, having the number you’ve gotten on permanent display makes it more of a point of pride – and pages’ efforts to drive that number higher and higher make the system less effective.
(Sure, there’s something to be said about a high number of likes indicating a brand’s popularity and trustworthiness. But if you never know how many of those likes are real, doesn’t it kind of defeat the point?)
Facebook is already under serious scrutiny for its role in spreading fraudulent content, too.
This Facebook trending story is 100% made up.
Nothing in it is true.
This post of it alone has 10k shares in the last six hours. pic.twitter.com/UpgNtMo3xZ
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) November 14, 2016
Between reported failures to stop the spread of fake news and recent controversy over years of falsely reporting the popularity of video, the last thing Facebook needs is more reason to have its credibility questioned.
If Facebook wants to de-emphasize the total number of likes for your page, that has big implications for your marketing strategy.
Let’s take a look at what exactly those are!
If reaching the people who’ve liked your page is the only way you measure your success on Facebook, you’re probably going to be disappointed.
Like, really disappointed.
One study showed that in October 2016, organic reach on Facebook was less than 10% – and that was an IMPROVEMENT over the month before. That same month, pages paid for 29% of their overall reach.
(This isn’t an outlier, either. In May, pages paid for nearly 32% of their reach.)
The age-old strategy of just posting a few things on Facebook and assuming your fans will see it doesn’t work anymore.
Instead, bring these three strategies into your gameplan:
1. Pay for reach (sometimes)
Don’t worry – it’s not as scary (or as expensive) as it sounds!
Once you know how to create an audience and test your ads, spending just a few bucks here and there can go a long way.
(Here’s a quick how-to, if you’re new to all that.)
2. Share what people share
When you post something on Facebook, the network isn’t going to show it to most of your fans.
That means you’ve gotta post things that other people are going to share, so that your potential audience isn’t limited to the people who already follow you!
A 2016 study found that for the million most-shared articles on social media, 90% of all sharing took place on Facebook. Understanding what people share on Facebook and why can give you the edge you need to reach more people proactively, instead of just hoping that Facebook gives you good reach with your existing audience! Remember: it isn’t just about what your audience wants, but what your audience’s audience wants.
3. Don’t just throw the dart one time
When you’re playing darts, you only get so many points each time you hit the target.
Would you rather throw just one dart and stick with the points you get? Or would you rather throw a whole bunch of darts, and watch the points add up?
Sharing something on Facebook just one time guarantees you’re going to miss most of your audience.
Sharing it again and again over time, though, means you get repeat opportunities to reach new people.
From The New York Times and BuzzFeed to the White House, repeating your social media updates has become the new standard for effective marketing. It’s just the way social media marketing works now – which is exactly why we built a tool designed to do exactly that!
Don’t waste your time or your content by sharing it just once and assuming Facebook’s algorithm will take care of the rest for you. Give it the opportunities it deserves to find an audience!
Facebook is just testing the new look for pages that hides their number of likes – so there’s no way to tell if this change is going to become permanent for everyone!
What do you think of it, though? Does it make sense to keep that number tucked away and de-emphasized? Or is it hiding something that you feel proud of? Share your thoughts in the comments below!