A Look at the Declining Importance of Page Likes

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Back in the day, everyone wanted Facebook likes. Having more likes than your biggest competitor was a top goal. Who could blame you? More likes meant more users viewing your content, which meant potential customers.

Boy, have times changed! With a couple of major algorithm changes over the past few years, reaching a Facebook fan organically has become nearly impossible. Unfortunately, likes don’t hold nearly the same value anymore.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be focusing on likes so much? Maybe Facebook is secretly telling us not to?

Have you noticed that the page likes’ style and placement have changed multiple times over the years? More importantly, their significance on the page has also dramatically changed.

Let’s take a look at the history and some major variations:

2007:

Seventeen Mag Likes 2009

Facebook Pages are born! Brand pages changed the digital marketing game by allowing consumers to create personal relationships with companies. While the page likes (a.k.a fans) are not very prominent on the page, just give them some time. You can read more about Facebook’s announcement here(Image via Mashable)

2012:

Cola Likes 2012

Facebook Pages gets a major redesign and moves over to the Timeline format. What once used to only be a layout only for personal profiles, is now for pages. While it seemed like everything changed, the page likes’ number presence was much larger. In fact, they had their own section within the tabs. You can also spot them underneath the page title. Those were the days when decent organic reach existed and likes actually meant something for digital marketers. You can read more about the announcement here(Image via Axiom)

2014:

Nike Likes 2014

Wait a minute! Did the page likes shrink? I do believe so. It’s important to note that there were a few page like variations in this format. For a short period of time it was also blue and showed the entire number. (Image via Buffer)

2015:

Oreo Likes 2015

Here we are today! We’ve gone from tiny, to huge, to big, to tiny again. That’s a lot of change for a simple set of numbers.

The Future:

Shortstack Likes 2016

Recently, the CEO of Shortstack, Jim Belosic, wrote an article on Social Media Today giving readers a sneak peek at the newest desktop layout for Facebook pages. As you can see, the page likes number has become smaller, but the call to action buttons are much larger. (Image via Social Media Today)

It’s time for digital marketers to stop focusing on likes, and start focusing on engagement and more valuable actions for their brands. For example: Newsletter signups and website traffic.

Is this Facebook’s way of telling the industry to move on from page likes? I think so! Facebook is emphasizing the lack of importance page likes should have in a brand’s social strategy by decreasing their presence in the layout/format. If Facebook doesn’t think page likes are important, neither should digital marketers.

With so much News Feed competition and low organic reach, brands will be better off in the long run by investing in other Facebook efforts and actions.

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