Digital Marketing News – Facebook Engagement, Going Beyond Likes


If you own a Facebook page then you’ll understand the need to drive ‘Likes’ on your page. It’s a quick and dirty way to get feedback on your brand and page content from your users. The more Likes you have, the more popular your page is right? Apparently not always, especially if you’re using Facebook’s own advertising to promote your page.

In a recent BBC article, one of their investigators set up a fake page, Virtual Bagel, and used Facebook’s targeted advertising programme to attract more than 1,600 Likes. However as the page did not contain any actual products or interesting content, this raised a huge question mark about whether using Facebook had been a complete waste of time and money.

Facebook hasn’t commented directly on this example but it released a post in August stating that it would be clamping down on pages that appeared to be gaining Likes through questionable means. This means it would remove Likes that it didn’t believe came from real people or brands. While it claimed that only 1% of Likes would be affected for the most part, some pages saw a massive drop overnight, Lady Gaga lost over 34,000 Likes while Texas Hold Em saw a drop of almost 100,000. Not exactly a small number even for pages with a large following.

So what does this mean for everyone else? First off, try tapping Facebook Likes into Google and you will be inundated with links to sites that offer thousands of Likes in exchange for a ‘small fee’. Herein lies part of the problem. Too many brands are utilising these kinds of offers to boost their pages and make them appear more popular. Facebook offers additional tools once you have reached specific levels of interest, and of course when searching for products or brands within Facebook, the number of Likes is viewed as a vote of confidence for new visitors.

But as we’ve seen with recent Google changes, buying in fans instead of earning them is a risky business and Facebook is fighting back against these dubious tactics. And it’s understandable given the amount of revenue Facebook receives from its advertising programme. If proved to be ineffective, this could be a huge blow for the company who have already seen a significant drop in share values since it went public earlier this year.

So what’s the answer? First off, get rid of the idea that Facebook Likes are the holy grail. Building true engagement with your audience is about more than just counting numbers, it’s about listening to your audience and delivering the content that makes them want to interact with your brand.

A recent survey conducted by Social Bakers lists the top 10 Facebook pages in the UK by both number of fans and engagement rates. Surprisingly (or perhaps not) those listed in the top 10 for fan numbers do not rank anywhere in the top 10 for engagement. So while they may have a lot of expressions of interest, those users aren’t necessarily coming back to the page past their initial visit or interacting with posted content.


If you have a Facebook account, one thing you can’t have failed to miss is the number of brands offering special offers or competitions for users that share specific posts. In principle this can be a good way to boost your profile and get people talking about your content. BUT it has to be relevant. Offering prizes that may be popular but aren’t relevant to your brand can boost numbers initially but these fans won’t necessarily be interested in building a relationship with you. And there’s always the danger that other users may find this tactic annoying when they see the same post being shared again and again in their news feeds.

Building engagement with your audience is a long game, it won’t happen overnight and it’s impossible to buy quality customers who will remain loyal and be advocates for your business. Investing time and energy into developing great content is the only way to build sustainability into your communication activity and Facebook’s recent crackdown shows they are serious about this too.

Just as Google knows that the power behind their bespoke advertising only comes from matching users with quality content, Facebook knows it can’t sell its products unless the results are worth paying for.

Take a look at some of our other articles for advice and tips about getting the most out of your Facebook page. Or better yet, subscribe to the online training programme and get access to the Facebook module which has a whole heap of useful information for you.

Written by Felice Ayling 

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