Do 1.17 trillion likes devalue it as a social currency?
The other week I was questioned about why it matters if someone likes your brand in Facebook.
At the time I replied that there is value in a like. By liking you in some small way define yourself with the brand in question, and that’s powerful.
In retrospect, I think my reasoning was correct but my overall answer was not.
Ben Kunz recently wrote a piece for Business Week about General Motors pulling out of Facebook advertising. Some of the stats he mentioned are worth noting.
“Facebook is famous for its likes”, writes Ben. “The idea is that you move from being an old-fashioned, interruptive advertiser to become a real “friend” of the consumer, sharing brand stories in the middle of her Facebook page, right next to her college roommate’s cat photos.”
In fact, Ben points out that these days “liking is as common as blinking.” Facebook gets 1.17 trillion likes a year, or 3.5 likes per user per day and there are 42 million Facebook pages with over ten likes.
Sure, not every like is created equally. Some are incidental and some are given for things the user really does care about. And there is merit in targeted Facebook advertising being used tactically to push initiatives or campaigns.
However the figures Ben mentions are fairly compelling and let’s face it, we’ve all been there. We like and forget.
The like or follower count is still the most common social media metric, though. This infographic by pagemondo says that the like or follower / friend total is the one used the most – by 60% of marketers – to evaluate social media campaigns.
In distant second place comes sharing, forwarding or retweeting brand content (39%), followed by qualified sales leads (35%) and time spent with branded content (30%).
I’m now using that second metric – the share – as a more important one.
To me, it is a step on from simply clicking like or follow as you actively have to repost a piece of content out to your network. It’s a positive piece of endorsement.
Though I’m dubious about the figures from Imbue Marketing that a like is worth $8 and a share $14, I would agree that a share is worth almost 2x as much. It’s the old adage about engagement versus numbers revisited.
Of course: Evaluation can’t only be about one thing. It can’t, but the simple reality is that on a brand spreadsheet we’re often asked to reduce what we do to one or two metrics. If you can qualify sales leads from social media activity great, but otherwise, the act of sharing a piece of branded content would seem to be the one that matters.
Update (6 June) – According to a Reuters / Ipsos poll, 4/5 Facebook users have never bought a product based on a comment or ad. The same survey also shows that time on the site is going down, with 34% spending less time on the world’s leading social network and only 22% spending more.
On that last stat, the prediction that Facebook could shrivel in size and significance like Yahoo! is perhaps not so far off the mark (especially since the prediction made by Ironfire founder Eric Jackson has a 5+ year timeline)