The Facebook Like Count Is Gone - What Does It Mean For Brands?

Laura Slendzak

November 10, 2019

Laura Slendzak

November 10, 2019

It’s happened – Facebook has removed the public ‘Like’ count, mimicking Instagram who removed it in July this year (same CEO, hey?). 

So, why have they done it? 

Facebook has been heavily criticised for the role it plays in negative cyberculture and mental health. Particularly, the obsession with how many ‘Likes’ a person gets and the correlations to self esteem. The removal of the ‘Like’ count is a way to get back to Facebook’s true purpose – connecting people. 

But it's not the only reason. For months, Facebook have said they want more meaningful social interactions on their platform. By deliberately shifting towards more ‘qualitative data collection’ (Comments) and away from ‘quantitative’ (Likes/Reactions), they’re encouraging users to interact the way they want them to. Rather than the audience focusing on how many ‘Likes’ a post has, their attention is driven back to the content and the message. 

But what does it mean for brands, now that the only person who will be able to see the ‘Like’ count is the account holder? And, in particular, what does it mean for Social Media Managers?

 

1. Shift Away From Engagement Metrics

Firstly, change your objective focus. Facebook themselves told brands to move away from engagement objectives, and ran a series of A/B tests to show you why. Their testing proved that social engagement doesn’t correlate to greater brand awareness nor more conversions. Instead, it’s the specific brand awareness, landing page view or conversion objectives that actually achieve your business goals. 

When you optimise a campaign for engagement, Facebook will deliver those ads to the people who are most likely to engage with your ad in terms of ‘Likes’, ‘Comments’, and ‘Shares’. However, the Reach and Impressions are more expensive with this objective, and you are more likely to reach bot accounts. And while previously the engagement objective offered ‘social proof’, there is no point now that the ‘Like’ count is hidden. 

If the purpose of your ad is to raise awareness or send traffic to your website, you don’t want to be paying for people to ‘Like’ your ad – you want to pay for conversions and a low reach and impressions rate.

 

2. Re-invest In Awareness & Landing Page Views

As a result, we suggest removing your investment from Engagement budgets (as no one will be able to see them anyway) and re-investing in other brand objectives instead.

The first option is to invest budgets into Brand Awareness objectives.

Brand Awareness ads enable us to get our content in front of people who are most likely to remember our messaging, instead of people who were most likely to engage. At Hello Social, we’ve had great success with brand awareness objectives for both dark ads and page posts. We have also seen a huge spike in Reach and Impressions, as it has a much better CPM and Cost Per Reach compared to the Engagement objective.

You’ll reach a more qualified audience, at a lower cost. 

The second option is to invest budgets into the Traffic objective.

This objective will achieve lower Reach and Impressions, however it will ensure you reach people who are more likely to visit your website. 

If your post or your ad goal is to boost website visits, this is the right objective for you.

Optimise your campaign towards landing page views instead of just clicks to ensure you will reach people who are most likely to wait until your website loads.

We always advise our clients whether Traffic or Brand Awareness (or indeed both) is better for them, based on their goals.

 

3. Focus On Your Own Business Performance Metrics

Reporting won’t be affected by the ‘Like’ count removal, but you might want to ensure your reports are focused on the right metrics. 

Success will continue to be monitored through Engagement and Engagement Rates, although they are likely to be lower than normal. We predict that users will ‘Like’ content less and ‘Comment’ more, just as they did on Instagram. (Keep in mind that ‘Comments’ are more meaningful engagements than ‘Likes’.) But also remember that Impressions, Reach, Video Viewed to Completion and Clicks are just as important, if not more so. 

We recommend focusing on:

Reach > Impressions > Post Engagement (even though it will be lower) > Video Views > Cost per Impression/Reach

Decide what the purpose of your content, ad or campaign is and ensure you’re tracking the metrics that align with your goals. If the focus is awareness, focus on Reach, Impressions and Video Views. If you’re trying to convert, focus on Clicks. It’s no longer just about how many ‘Likes’ a post gets – it’s about analysing the meaningful metrics for your brand, and ensuring you’re connecting to your audience and community.

 

4. Understand The Change In Behaviour

Ever had a post with a thousand ‘Post Clicks’, but very minimal ‘Likes’? If so, that tells you that a customer has clicked on the post, absorbed that content, but just hasn’t tapped ‘Like’. It doesn’t make that interaction any less valuable. In fact, it’s more valuable – they’ve clicked on your post as they were genuinely interested in the content and wanted to know more. 

Back in the early days, ‘Likes’ were the only way to measure how a customer was engaging but that’s no longer true. As the platform has evolved, so has the way people interact. ‘Liking’ is no longer the primary way that people engage. 

Instead read between the lines of what the current social behaviour is – ‘Post Clicks’, ‘Comments’. 10-second views and other metrics show you how people are now consuming your content. It isn’t just about ‘Likes’.

 

5. Content Is The New Social Proof

Now that the audience can’t see the ‘Like’ count, their focus is back on the content and the message. You no longer need ‘Likes’ as social proof, instead the proof is in the content. People are going to engage with content that speaks to them. 

Focus on creating content that connects with you audience, and getting that message out as far as possible – that’s the new social proof.

If you want to know specifically what the changes mean for your brand or how we can help you, please get in touch. We will give Hello Social clients more precise recommendations in your next ad proposal.

 

About The Author

Laura Slendzak is an Account Director at Hello Social, leading a team of 5. She has 9 years of experience in social media and brand content for clients such as PwC, AMP, Intuit, Facebook, L’Oréal, Canon and Luna Park. Specialised in developing brand strategies on social (from content to advertising plan), her motto is “the right content, at the right moment, for the right person”. As a social media addict, she LOVES emojis and will probably use too many in her emails. Sorry in advance!  😎🇫🇷😊

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