June 3, 2016 Kevin Erb

Should we still love the like?

When it comes to measuring social marketing, each platform provides some fairly basic and straightforward ways to define and determine success – Facebook likes, for example. Some rather significant changes among many of the most prominent platforms, however, has many marketers facing a important question: What’s a “like” really worth anymore?

It started with Facebook’s overhaul of its audience-feedback system, which expanded the options from the traditional like to five different reactions. (We discussed the implications – and possibilities – of that update a while back.)

Beyond that, however, other factors have come into play that are causing marketers to question whether the almighty like is still all it’s cracked up to be:

  • Audiences are getting younger. And younger social media users view liking something differently than older ones. Whereas older users put consideration into liking something (because they, you know, actually like it), younger social media users often see liking as simply acknowledging its existence. Watch a teen navigate his or her Instagram feed and you’ll see what we mean – they’ll often like everything in the feed without stopping to considering its quality or likability. (Hence our discussion of Instagram’s branding shift in last week’s note.)
  • Platforms are changing. More specifically, they’re changing how users digest content. Both Facebook and LinkedIn, as we all know, are constantly tinkering with algorithms and, as a result, having a serious impact on what users see which content. Just as importantly, both Instagram and Twitter have announced their own intention to move from a reverse-chronological feed to an algorithmically driven one, which may carry significant impacts for marketers in how much of their content will reach their usual audience.

These changes and shifts have marketers understandably nervous when it comes to measuring engagement and what value the like and its ilk still carry. The bottom line: Marketers should always be striving for a harmonious balance between quality and quantity. You can have the biggest audience imaginable – but a large audience that is unengaged is of little value. The same goes for a smaller but engaged audience. Sure, passion is important, but so is size and scale.

And, equally important, is remembering that social media keeps you on your toes with its constant tinkering and platform changes – marketers must be equally flexible and adept at making sure strategy and tactics are in service to changing goals and objectives. There’s a lot to like about that approach.

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