Likes Are So Yesterday

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Two years ago, when we talked about Facebook marketing all anybody could yammer about was “Likes.” Likes, we said, were the key to Facebook fame and fortune; if you wanted your brand to get noticed in the sea of hungry online marketing sharks, you had better whip up a strategy for Likes, like pronto.

Yet as the marketing platform of Facebook has started to show its wear and tear over the years, we’ve sensed that perhaps Likes aren’t all they were cracked up to be. Now a new study affirms that Facebook Likes aren’t the end of the rainbow. If we want success on Facebook, we have to engage.

Researchers found that 75 percent of respondents Liked the Facebook page of an organization or brand but nearly 70 percent of those users rarely or never returned to the page. Only 15 percent of users made weekly visits to a company’s Facebook page.

“We wanted to find out what the younger generation, those 18- to 29-year-olds, are doing on those sites,” Tina McCorkindale, an assistant professor in Appalachian State University’s Department of Communication and social media expert, said. “They are the Facebook generation. With so many companies spending so much time and money on social media, we need to understand not only social media tools, but the strategies of how to use it.”

Instead, McCorkindale and fellow researchers Marcia DiStaso from Pennsylvania State University and Hilary Fussell-Sisco from Quinnipiac University found that the respondents in the survey were more enthusiastic about brands that offered some incentives to return to their page. Contests, giveaways, coupons and photos are some of the successful ways to get users back to Facebook pages. Also fascinating: 42 percent of the respondents dumped a Facebook page when they found the communication to be over the top. The study surveyed 414 people between the ages of 18 and 29.

So what have we learned here? Mainly, that Facebook users want to be engaged by brands and be given a reason to show up there. Just a steady stream of “please buy our crap” status updates ain’t gonna cut it. With a zillion brands on Facebook, users hold the power here. They can (and will, according to the survey) give your company the heave-ho if you tick them off with too much communication. Yet these numbers signal something bigger, we think. Facebook Pages are truly being used as one stops for company information. More and more, a brand’s page is about the who, what, when and where and not so much about Likes.

Bottom line: Facebook is where we hang out, so we want the businesses on the platform to be easy to find but not too noisy.

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