What's not to "like"?

Have you ever “liked” one thing from Doug The Pug and all of sudden your entire Facebook news feed is covered with Pug updates?

I know mine has.

But with some recent changes from Facebook, a simple “like” may no longer result in similar content being pushed to your News Feed.

Significantly for brands, Facebook has introduced “News Feed Preferences”, allowing users greater control over the stories they see at the top of their News Feed.

Currently only live on the iOS app, users can now choose which news they see first, rather than relying on Facebook’s algorithm to push content it believes you’ll like to see.

These changes bring into question the true value of a brand ‘like’. Previously companies would invest heavily in promoting its brand page and increasing the number of its Facebook followers.

Having 10,000 more likes on your page compared to your competitors was seen as something you could celebrate around the company as a valuable metric indicative of strong consumer sentiment.   

Not too long ago we were seeing brands celebrate Facebook fan milestones in a big way (sidebar: remember when you had Facebook fans rather than likes).

You might even recall Porsche putting the names of all their Facebook fans on a 911 GT3 R hybrid race car to celebrate hitting 1 million fans.

But what’s in a ‘like’ today? Not a lot.

Today, a person’s News Feed is where the most gain can be made. Creating engaging, relevant and intelligent content is more important than ever.

By allowing users more control over what they see on their News Feed and enabling them to switch off to content they don’t want to see, Facebook is impacting the ability for brands to flog sub-par content, even with a big budget behind it.

Should Facebook continue to head in this direction, the number of page likes a brand has will become increasingly meaningless. Engagement – in the form of shares, likes, comments, clicks, views – will have greater value and warrants the investment from brands, much more so than paying for followers.

So the next time you’re lamenting only gaining 4 more brand likes that week, take another look at what really matters as a brand metric. If they’re un-liking your page, your content probably needs more scrutiny.

If they’re sharing and engaging with your content, then you’re already on track and should be celebrating this much more than the number of followers you’ve secured that week.