Getting 'Likes' on Facebook: 1 Step Forward, 6 Steps Back

In an effort to increase the effectiveness of their social presence, small business owners sometimes participate in something of a "link sharing" strategy with other small business owners to increase the number of 'Likes' on their Facebook business pages.

Essentially "You like mine, I'll like yours."  It is even possible to purchase 'Likes' for your page, and aside from being blatantly deceptive and unethical, paying for fans is detrimental for the same reasons we're about to cover.

The intentions behind these practices are good, and on the surface building your fan count by an means necessary sounds like a good idea.  After all, the number of 'Likes' on your business page can speak to legitimacy, loyalty, and popularity for new visitors to your page.  The number of 'Likes' can definitely help build a confidence level and trust factor for prospective customers and clients.  A couple of years ago, leveraging these benefits by increasing your fan count would have been all fine and well (deceptive practices aside of course).

Today however, with the way Facebook is now intentionally and artificially limiting visibility of business page content in an effort to boost participation in their paid or "Sponsored" posting program, these types of strategies are only going to hurt folks who use them.

How can artificially building a page's fan count be detrimental?

Here's a great article that sums up the numbers quite well:

1 out of every 6 fans actually sees your social media posts and content. That's only 17% of your fan base!

So, unless you are gaining 1 REAL fan (i.e. prospective client, or other person in your local market that can actually help you generate revenue) for every 6 other non-relevant 'Likes' you get on your page, you're actually just reducing the number of REAL fans that can see your content or are exposed to it. 

What does this mean? Unless you're doing a bang up job of engagement and at least maintaining that 1:6 ratio for relevant (real) 'Likes,' this strategy is only going to end up hurting your social effectiveness in the long run by siphoning your content visibility away from the very people who should really be seeing it, respnding to it, engaging with it, and most importantly, sharing it with their family, friends, and associates.

This isn't to say however that sharing 'Likes' is always a bad thing.  What you have to ask yourself is if each 'Like' is someone who can realistically help you build your bottom line.  If the answer is 'no,' and the only percieved benefit is the increased fan count, it might not be as beneficial as you think in the long term.

If you want to increase your 'Likes' and build your fan base, do it the right way - with relevant, helpful & entertaining content that will spur engagement.

Otherwise, you really are taking 6 steps back for every 1 step forward.