Likes Aren't Just A Vanity Metric

Dispelling the common myth that likes on Facebook are just a vanity metric rather than something actually beneficial.

Flipping conventional wisdom smack on its face is sometimes the most fun you have as a rational and intelligent human being and leave your clothes on. Whether it's in the realm of politics, human interaction and social dynamics, religion, technology, or even social media, figuring out that something is true that most other people believe to be false can not only provide you with a warm and tingly feeling as well as a smug sense of superiority, it can also give you an advantage in life. A lot of conventional wisdom in SEO and online marketing and social media is wrong, somewhat wrong, partially wrong, or contextually misleading. Figuring out how to pick out the best and worst information can be of supreme benefit to you and figuring out when a piece of advice that you get is wrong or not can really give you an edge over your competitors.

How People Use Likes As Filters And Social Proof

Conventional wisdom says a lot of incorrect things in the realm of online marketing, growth hacking, and social media. Conventional wisdom says that buying likes is always (or almost always) the wrong thing to do. The reality is that there are good and bad times to buy likes, and sometimes it can work better in certain situations with certain market niches than others. Additionally the way you buy them and use them in your social media strategy is important; relying on purchased likes as the sum total of your social media strategy is a very foolish decision. However, using likes to provide social proof can be a beneficial strategy. As with everything in life, there's no one right answer to every question and context is super important, but this article will attempt to answer to provide some insight into why the world is the way it is within the super-fascinating social media field.

Vanity Metrics Aren't Just About The Page Owner's Ego

Conventional wisdom tends to refer to the number of likes that you have as a vanity metric and views services like Klout that try and assign some measure of thoughtful analysis to these stats as somewhat vapid or even unseemly. While the number of likes that a page has is something that short-sighted page owners can sometimes get overly fixated on to their own detriment, referring to it as purely a metric to massage an owner's ego is also a bit short-sighted. The reality is that people use various types of informational filters to assign value to different people, places, and things. These metrics are actually how people make many quick decisions online and can impact conversion rate as well as other aspects of business success.

How Social Proof Works

People love what's already popular and want to be part of the in-crowd. If you've ever tried to jump from the nerd's table to the cool kid's lunch table in high-school, you know how the lack of popularity can affect your perceived standing and how that makes it difficult to get many peoples' attention. Like it or not, unfair or not, the reality is that social proof impacts business in a similar way.

When you browse through a bookstore, you don't have time to read the back cover description and check out every single book in the store. You might walk down the rows and find a title or cover image that fascinates you enough to pick up that particular book. In that case, while the concept of social proof doesn't necessarily apply, you're using text and imagery as a filter. Social proof in a bookstore would be seeing an author's event jam-packed with excited autograph seekers and deciding to pick up a book based on the fact that others are doing so.

When you browse online for information on a hobby, you use Google's rankings as a filter and might click on the first handful of results for a search term. Google's filter in using a Page Ranking algorithm designed around link popularity is an interesting mathematical invention, but is really just another type of filter for measuring social proof. In many areas of life, from relationships to business, there are many types of filters that people use to assign weight and subjective value to different things.

On Facebook, likes are one of the most important filters and this constitutes vital social proof. People don't have time to check out a million different pages. If they see that a page has few likes, they'll be less likely to take it seriously or click on it when they come across it via searches. If your page is just starting out or has few likes, growing your page will have a very positive effect on your conversion rate because more people will be likely to click on it and take you seriously. While the long game is vital and taking on a long term approach of building solid content is a smart strategy that you should always follow and that we advocate. However, forgetting the short term can also be detrimental. If you forget the short term and don't start to build some momentum, your motivation to work on your site will be sapped. These and other ways are why using all of the various techniques at your disposal to gain more likes can be very beneficial to your page.

Why do some self-proclaimed social media gurus give bad advice?

It wouldn't be fair to accuse a profession, en-masse, of giving out bad advice to people for free to benefit themselves at the expense of others. It is true that the more bad marketing advice that floats around out there and the more common online marketing mistakes that small businesses make, the easier it is for these social media gurus to make their high-powered consulting fees. However, to be fair and reasonable and to assign a certain sense of purity within their motives, the reason that some of their advice is wrong is that much of their advice is probably given within the wrong context. Many of these gurus rake in the really big bucks catering to the needs of a handful of larger clients that can afford to shell out a 5 figure fee without even blinking for a second. Much of their written analysis on social media is with the needs of these clients in mind. In contrast to the realities that a Fortune 500 corporation or big brand faces every day, a small business has far fewer marketing options available to it, has much different needs for sustainable long-term growth, and has much different needs. Advice that works for big brands with endless resources to throw into online ads and content marketing isn't always the best advice for a small business with no expert marketers and a limited advertising budget. So much of the advice you read from others is tuned to the realities that bigger brands face as opposed to smaller firms with more limited budgets who need to use their resources wisely.

How You Can Best Use This Information

Even though this site is geared towards providing in-depth reviews of companies where you can buy Facebook likes, this isn't the online marketing strategy that's always advocated. In fact, in our past discussion of the topic, we've clearly illustrated that there are some situations where gaining more likes is more beneficial than others and there are some situations that buying likes isn't very beneficial at all. However, it is clear that many newer pages in many business categories can benefit from this marketing practice and gain the necessary social proof that they need to gain more momentum and find more motivation to work on their site. Within these and other contexts, it is clear that likes aren't just for vanity, but a vital way that people separate out what might be worth their time and attention, and what isn't. Nobody would ever force you to do anything and you're free to ignore the best advice that you have available to you, but any business that doesn't use some of this advice as an enhancement to their social media strategy is really missing the boat.

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