Facebook Success is More than “Like” Count

Sounds obvious, right? However, it is a subtle detail that is often overlooked. The number of “Likes” on a Facebook Fan Page are important, but what is more important is how engaged those users are. Think of it like giving a lecture to an audience. Say you have a very large audience but most of the people are asleep or doing other things. Then consider having a smaller audience where everyone is taking notes and asking thoughtful questions. Which lecture is more successful? Of course, we would say that the second scenario is the more successful lecture.

This is the same for Facebook. In order to receive a “Like” on a Facebook Fan Page, a user must simply click the “Like” button either on the page or through another link to that same button; they may never think about that page again. Facebook measures Engagement as “the number of unique users who have clicked on your post.” Engagement is directly related to the Number of People Talking About This (PTAT) defined as “the number of unique people who have created a story about your page.” Stories are created by one of the following actions:

  1. Click “Like” on a your page
  2. Posts to your page
  3. “Likes” a post on your page
  4. Comment on a post on that page
  5. Share that post to another page
  6. Answers a question you posted
  7. Responds to your event
  8. Mentions your page
  9. Tags your page in a photo
  10. Checks in at your Place
  11. Recommends your Place

Let’s look at an example of a situation where this would be especially important. Politics. The youth are known for not being highly politically active. However, social media has provided a medium for these younger voices to support the causes that they feel passionately about and they can communicate this instantly with hundreds of friends.

Still, the challenge remains to engage the younger generation in a conversation that they are not normally interested in joining. I took a moment to look at a real-life situation to examine how Engagement can compare to “Likes” on Facebook: The Washington State Campaign for Governor.

Remember, the number of people talking about a page is significant because that is one of the major factors which determines Reach (defined by Facebook as “the number of unique users to see a post”). Not only is reaching the maximum number of people a marketing goal, but it also indicates that this is something that people are having conversations about and when they are having conversations about it, they care about it.

If you are able to get your followers to care about what you are posting enough to engage in the post, you have accomplished the basic goal behind social media- to create a conversation. Now you have your followers providing you with insights, with feedback, and with support. You have tapped into your target audience and you have them talking about you and what you do. And they’re talking not only to you, but to their friends, further expanding your influence.

Right now in Washington State campaigns are taking place for Governor. The Democratic candidate is Jay Inslee (www.facebook.com/Jayinslee) and the Republican Candidate is Rob McKenna (www.facebook.com/robmckenna). Washington is known to be a Democratic state, however, McKenna has over 8,600 more “Likes” on his Facebook page than Inslee. At first this may seem puzzling and worrisome to the Inslee campaign managers. But before we jump to conclusions, let’s see how the two compare when we look at how many people are talking about each page.

Facebook Likes and Talking About This (PTAT) for Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna


While the PTAT statistics are relatively close, what is important to note here is the percentage of the people who have “Liked” each page who are now continuing to interact. Going back to our original analogy at the beginning of the article, Jay Inslee’s “lecture” seems to be much more successful in generating conversation despite the fact that Rob McKenna has gathered a larger audience. Granted, this is no indication of the tone of the conversation. But it is clear that there is a lot more conversation going on, and in social media, you want conversation, especially between you and your followers and between your followers and their friends.

All political preferences aside, from a strictly social media stand point, it looks like Inslee is winning the Facebook campaign race.

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Brooke Hubbard is the Owner of MBMedia, a social media and web presence strategy company. She graduated from Boston University with a BA in English and a BS in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. She lives in Seattle, WA with her family and her two dogs and one cat.
Contact Brooke at Maggiebrookesmedia@gmail.com

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5 thoughts on “Facebook Success is More than “Like” Count

  1. broc.edwards says:

    Great post. A nice reminder that actions are louder than words and results are more important than “Likes”. Likes are merely a proxy measurement for engagement. Outcomes and results are what we’re truly striving for.

  2. Dirk Mortensen says:

    Totally agree. Engagement > Likes all day long

    Although you may have found the only industry where “Like”s may actually be a reasonable metric.

    In politics, you want conversation to lead to more votes. “Like”s might actually be a decent metric to follow how your conversation or engagement is performing.

    One could argue, with the numbers provided, that Inslee is getting less out of his conversation/engagement than Mckenna is.

    19k conversationalist votes still gets trumped by 28K introverted votes… People only vote once, kind of like hitting a “like” button.

    It’ll be interesting to see the correlation between the social media metrics and the outcome of the election! Especially seeing as how conservatives are not typically early adapters in tech. (not online)

    • Maggie Brookes says:

      Completely agree with this thought as well. The idea behind the article was to analyze success on Facebook. But, you’re right, this may not correlate to success in campaign overall.
      We’ll see what happens!

      Brooke

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