If you’re like many companies on Facebook, you may have noticed recently that your total number of “likes” has dropped. It could be one like, a hundred likes, or even more, but don’t worry; the drop was actually the byproduct of an intentional move by Facebook, and it will have no major effect on your audience or your page.
Ordinarily, a drop in likes is the result of users manually un-liking your brand, which is a bad sign for business. As such, when you noticed your Facebook likes had dropped, you would have had every reason to be concerned.
However, Facebook recently announced a kind of “spring cleaning” intended to help clear out the clutter on the social media site that would make page likes more accurate, and actually improve user experience on the platform.
Facebook’s changes are quite simple. The company is removing the majority of memorialized pages and voluntarily deactivated accounts from the platform. The end result of this is fewer Facebook profiles that are no longer active, which means any likes from those inactive profiles you may have received and retained from a time when they were active will be taken away when those accounts are taken down.
You may have already seen a drop, or a few small drops over the course of the past week. Facebook intends this cleanse to continue taking place over the next few weeks, so don’t be startled if you see your likes drop further, or if you see your likes dropping after initially retaining the majority of your likes.
In the future, any account that is deactivated or memorialized will automatically have its likes removed from company pages. Do take note that if a deactivated account is re-activated, the like you received from that account initially will be reinstated.
There are many reasons why Facebook is taking this initiative, and most of them have to do with quality control of their platform. Business pages generally rely on metrics from their page, including likes, to determine the quality of their offerings and the overall success of their social media marketing. If that number of likes is inflated, it could give a false impression about the general state of the campaign. Facebook hopes this move will make like counts much more accurate and more meaningful to companies, who will then be able to make better decisions about their marketing moving forward.
Facebook is also proceeding with the like removal because Facebook has already been filtering out likes and comments from deactivated and memorialized accounts on individual profiles. The move is now simply extending to apply to business pages.
It might be jarring to see your Facebook like numbers drop, but the reality is your Facebook likes don’t matter much. It’s true that if you see your likes grow organically over time, that’s an indication that your social media campaign is performing well, but the actual numbers are meaningless. Having 1,000 Facebook fans doesn’t mean you have 1,000 paying customers or even 1,000 possible leads. The quality of those likes is far more important than the quantity.
For example, a company with 100,000 Facebook likes might find that its audience is fleeting; they might have acquired those likes through a paid campaign or through a contest. In any case, the company’s followers are disinterested in the brand, and social interactions with the brand aren’t much better than they were when the company was at 5,000 likes. On the other hand, a company with 500 likes might see regular, excited activity from its followers because they’re all extremely dedicated to the brand.
Facebook’s move is a numerical one, and therefore is one that isn’t worth worrying about. In fact, the average quality of your likes will actually increase after the move (since some of the dead weight will be cleaned out).
Having lots of followers can be beneficial in increasing your domain authority; of two similar companies with similar followings, the company with the larger following will have a higher domain authority. However, Google also takes the quality of your social audience into consideration when calculating rank. If you have a high number of followers but none of them are actively sharing or commenting on your content, the size of your audience is practically negligible.
Take this recent Facebook change as a lesson, and an opportunity. The quality of your audience is much more important than the quantity of your likes, so take the time to refine your approach and guarantee you get the most active, most valuable followers possible.
First, eliminate any tactics or schemes you use to artificially increase your number of followers. Don’t pay for followers, don’t reach out to random strangers, and don’t force people to like your brand in order to do something else.
Next, take a hard look at the type of content you share on your page. Is it always valuable to your users? How often are you posting? Do you post things that make people want to interact with you? If not, you’ll need to reevaluate your strategy and possibly rebuild from the ground up.
The biggest takeaway from all of this is that your number of likes isn’t that important. Instead of focusing on the number of people following your brand on Facebook, focus on the loyalty and activity of those followers.