Likes Are Not Loves – How To Waste Time “Marketing” In Facebook

I heard the other day that if someone “Likes” your Facebook business page, they’re over 90% likely to never look at it again.

Wow.  90% is a lot! We could assume that’s exaggerated by ½, but 45% is still a lot. When a website’s conversion rate is a fraction of its actual traffic – a significant loss of engagement is rough, let’s hope you didn’t pay a ton of money to get all of those Likes.

This statistic, combined with the disturbing trends in today’s Facebook business strategies worries me – it really worries me. I’m disturbed by the complete lack of understanding within business America that a “Like” doesn’t equal “Love” and it certainly doesn’t equal revenue.

At Pubcon in 2009, Lee Odden said your Social Media channels should be akin to your email or telephone. Tracking the ROI of having a telephone is arguably pretty silly; a phone is a cost of doing business – what legitimate company doesn’t have a phone?

Facebook is a communication medium. Its job is to communicate with your potential client or customer. Your job as a business page owner is to be human, be professional, engage, and let your potential client base know who you are as a company and what you do.

A Clickable webcast I attended last week indicated that sales speak should be about 10% of your overall content strategy on Facebook. While I agree with that, as a marketer there is a very wide gap between a promotional post and a completely un-related piece of drivel like “click ‘Like’ if you’re wearing flip flops.”  Now, if you’re a company that sells shoes or flip flops, that might be something related.  If you’re a vacation rental company or you sell computers, it’s crazy.

We have a few clients that signed on with a social media company who gains “Likes” for their Facebook page. I’m not going to mention their name here; I honestly don’t want them to get any more business until they improve the quality of Likes they gain for our clients.

Most clients pay this company between $1,000 and $3,000 dollars a month and this company increases their “Likes” exponentially. It works; they do gain these clients thousands of Likes in a very short period of time (two to four months.)   Most of the posts that gain these Likes are similar to those pictured above – 4 or 5 of these a day – sometimes posted within seconds of each other at 6am.

Great – you have a lot of Likes. Likes you gained with inane questions such as “Click Like if you’re glad its Friday” or “Click Like if you want to go to the beach.”  Here’s my problem with this….they have no increase in measurable business for this strategy. One client’s visits from Facebook have gone up quite a bit, a 2x increase (full disclosure: 2x means from  60 visits a month to 120 visits a month – lame).

Here’s the reality, bounce rate for Facebook visitors went from around 7% to 37% – a 600+% change! What the heck? Time on site and pages per visit also went down by double digit percentages. If a visitor from a referrer used to spend 8.5 minutes on your site, landing on the same page the whole time, and they now spend 2.3 minutes – there’s something wrong with your traffic quality.

It’s the nature of the animal for some marketers to try to exploit what works…and what people will pay them to do. Adding keywords to a page resulted in great HotBot rankings until HotBot died and Yahoo & Google got smart to keyword stuffing. Links from crappy resources aren’t working anymore, metatags are arguably not very powerful ranking factors anymore….so someone exploiting Facebook to increase your “Likes” is not a stretch.

The problem is – the poor messaging and engagement will lead to people just not listening anymore – and pretty soon, Facebook won’t even have the potential to make money for your business. Is that what you want?

My ranting aside – there are right and wrong ways to use Facebook. The above is the wrong way – the right way is actually quite simple – engage and converse with your fans.

Here are some tips for making your Facebook presence worth liking, worth loving and worth buying from.

  • Converse with your fans – answer their questions, be engaging and helpful.
  • Give them something worth reading and responding to – post facts that they’ll find useful along with deals and specials they’ll be happy to engage with. Include a link to either a Facebook Tab where they can get the deal’s information or a link to your website to get them into the buying funnel.
  • Keep overt sales speak to 10% of your message. That means for every 9 conversation/engagement posts you share, you can add one sales pitch, special offer, reason to choose your business over the competition.
  • Testimonials are great – ask your Facebook customers to share their experience with your other Facebook fans. In the “thank you for purchasing” email, offer them a link to share their experience. The “Share” button is a great addition to your reservation or sale confirmation page.
  • Customize the experience. Design pages that are 500px wide and frame them in on your Facebook page to use as landing pages for Facebook Ads, Contests, Welcome pages, etc.  In Facebook settings you can set which “Landing page” to use for all visitors to your specific business page.

So here’s my bottom line – if you’re going to do it – do it right.

Artificial inflation of your “Likes” does not mean you’re going to make more money because people “trust” you more. They’re going to look at your page with nothing very interesting on it, and wonder what you did to get all those likes, and probably walk away. Do it right, grow slowly, but grow a base of “likes” that will be brand advocates, customers, and cheerleaders.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Beginner | Channel: Social | How To: Facebook | Search Marketing Toolbox


About The Author: is the co-founder of Ignitor Digital, along with long-time colleague Mary Bowling. At Ignitor, Carrie tackles tough technical SEO roadblocks many small business owners don't even know they have. Her experience with analytics and troubleshooting helps her get to the root of issues. When not working, Carrie loves to cook for friends and family, hang out with her pretty awesome kids, and read books that have little-to-no educational value! You can also follow Carrie on twitter, @carriehill.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.
  • Dave

    Very good information here Carrie.

    I like Facebook pages all the time and never realized how little I actually return to these pages.

    Getting thousands of people to “Like” you on Facebook is only half the battle. Creating a successful landing page for your Facebook will drive up those conversion rates.

    You’re right, too many companies rely on random interactive status’ as their social media strategy.

  • Rick Vidallon

    I shudder and cringe when a client asks me to put a Facebook like button on their homepage.

    What image are you trying to convey about your company?
    Should a cancer medical practice have a ‘Like’ button on their homepage?
    Should a pizza parlor have a ‘Like’ button on their homepage?

    In my humble opinion the Facebook ‘Like’ button interface does not lend any professional sensibility to a business homepage. And from a search engine perspective I do not want Google detecting a Facebook link on my homepage. Call me super superstitious, but that’s just me.

  • Carrie Hill

    Thanks Direct & Rick – I appreciate the read and the comments.

    I guess the bottom line for me is the same thing we (evenutally) said with “keyword stuffing” and crappy links – More is not always better!

  • Eric Ward

    Carrie – really well said. The increasing variety of “impulse click” related signals are an SEO fad right now that will take some time to shake out. The engines using such signals know they can’t yet be fully trusted in firehose mode. I saw a diet product facebook page and I have never heard of the product in my life, yet it had 187,000 Likes. Yeah, right. The companies that used to sell stumbles and lenses and bookmarks are just moving on to paid likes, shares, and tweets. In my next Link Week column here I’ll dig into a true/false social signal primer. Again, awesome stuff Carrie.

  • Scot Small

    Interesting post. While I agree with most of it and understand were you all are coming from we do not live in a perfect world. Much of the time the opinions here are coming form people who know an extreme amount of what is going in the online search and social world – the problem is those people who most marketing companies are trying to reach, have no clue of anything mentioned in this post and could care less. Yes Eric when you see the 187,000 likes or I see the 187000 likes we are going to question it — we are “insiders” and understand and no the game – however those that are not in our world see the 187,000 likes and wonder – maybe there is something to this what am I missing an may take an action. If they only had 100 likes they would leave almost right away.

    The key in my mind is always have a good message and engage. If having lots of useless likes helps increase the perception of the legit likes then how is that bad? If your bounce rate goes up but your conversions also go up – in number and not percent is this a bad thing?

    Carrie the 5 suggestions at the end of the post are fantastic and should be followed by all. If you always concentrate on quality then you in the long run will be a winner – but that does not mean that some of the tactic’s used by marketer’s to “be seen or discover in the first place” are all bad. One of my rants is how I see many so called “purest” put the so called shady tactic’s down on one hand and then use them on the other – it really drives me crazy.

    The bottom line is – does the strategy or tactic drive bottom line revenue for the client in a legal and ethical manner?

  • Carrie Hill

    @Eric – thanks for the read and the comments, I really apprecate your thoughts & feedback

    @Scott- I would be a 100% card-carrying supporter if I could see any even INCREMENTAL business from this tactic. The client’s bounce rates are rising, average time on site is dropping, and revenues from this tactic are nonexistent, i cant even find an incremental increase in reservations from it……maybe SOME day it will work – but for $2k per month, they’re definitely not receiving a return at this point. Could something happen long-term? Sure, I hope it does. My point was, dont pay a ton of money for this stuff and expect to get a marked and immediate increase in revenue. (well, that and the fact that I hate a junky and irrelevant business stream with not a lot of engagement)

  • Scot Small

    Carrie – Agree with you 100% – if there is no ROI I would not do it. Paying $2k for likes is in my mind just the opposite of smart – bottom line is revenue – nothing else matter in business – unless you are dealing with a business owners ego and they like seeing the “likes”. Crazy but it happens.

  • Matt

    I would say having a company Facebook page is better than not. It makes it easier to “like.” That being said, too many businesses stop at a page, or put an intern in charge of managing the account. The result is a lackluster asset that doesn’t engage or convert leads or customers.

  • James

    I’m still learning how to use Facebook but doesn’t having ‘likes’ convey other marketing benefits beyond immediate action? Doesn’t someone have to have liked you in order to send messages to their stream? This seems to be reason alone to get as many likes a possible so that future messages are seen by a larger audience.

    Also, don’t likes serve as personal endorsements if they’re seen on others walls?

  • Lauren McCabe

    This article misses a out on a crucial point– after a user likes your page (for whatever reason, flip- flops or not) your status updates start to appear in their newsfeed, and you have countless opportunities to convert passive fans into active customers. In effect, FB becomes another advertising channel, like TV, radio, print, etc, and an excellent conduit for brand exposure.

    Now as Carrie mentioned, it’s your job to create compelling status updates and understand FB’s newsfeed algorithm to get your updates to actually show up in their newsfeed (example: videos are weighed heavier and are more likely to get prioritized as “top news”).

    But it’s highly unlikely that even your most enthusiastic brand evangelists will “like” your page from an ad that’s business-focused. People don’t “like” businesses, they like ideas.

    Think about it: there’s something creepy about a company asking you to associate yourself with their toilet-cleaning brand on FB. Why do you care?

    But maybe you will like a company from an Ad that says “Click Like if you’re dreading cleaning your house this weekend.” And then proceeds to broadcast helpful ways to keep your house cleaner longer.

    The bottom line: people like ideas, not businesses they’ve never heard of. if your fan page traffic is low, it’s a status update problem, not an FB ad problem.

  • Silicon Beach

    Whilst it’s true that an artificial like will not mean anything in terms of ROI we cannot ignore the value of likes in search engine optimisation. the number of likes can significantly improve ranking which is why many people will use this technique.

    The example that you use ie click like if your having fun is not the best way to go about it, I’m not sure if this kind of activity would be worth it as it would seem to be a bad idea for your brand image, but finding ways to increase your likes organically for a particular page is extremely worth while in terms of SEO.


  • Simon Serrano

    Lol… nice rounding job on the %600

  • ChannelIslandsDesign

    Great article! Lots of new things for my mental checklist. But the default landing tab can only be set for people who haven’t yet “Liked” your page… unless something has changed since I last checked. By default, anyone who has already “Liked” you will see your Wall – and there is currently no workaround for this, unfortunately. Oh, Facebook – always keeping us on our toes.

  • Carrie Hill

    Wow! You guys were busy this weekend :)

    To clarify – I’m not against getting more likes – I just want Facebook businesses to get more QUALIFIED likes – people who have SOME intention of buying something, not just liking to like something, or because they saw it on someone else’s page…..The reality is – the continued barrage of inane posts is doing to sour your audience, so do it the right way.

    @inbounded, painperdu – Likes CAN convey trust – maybe, and SOME say they’re akin to “Links” – i dont really believe it yet – these clients who are growing their junky likes are not moving in the search engines – at all. I’ll keep watching that to see if it happens, but wont hold my breath.

    @Lauren If these were qualified likes, that might be customers some day – there’s a real possibility they’d book something, but the reality is – they’re not going to buy, they have no intention of buying when they like….and converting those “likes” into dollars in the future is going to be hard. Especially when you want them to KEEP liking you with updates akin to “click like if you’re glad its’ friday”

    @Silicon – Like I said above, i’m not seeing ANY benefit SEO wise to these increased likes. ‘ll keep watching but I don’t believe it right now

    @Simon – i’m absolutely horrible at math, i think someone said to me “that’s like almost 600%” and i went with it….

  • Carrie Hill

    @channel – yes – you’re right – default landing page is only for new “likers” – seems like we should be able to do more with that, eh Facebook?

  • RG

    Great read Carrie, even better comment stream. Thanks to everyone. We are currently integrating the like button into one of our new applications for users to give a ‘like’ to businesses and individuals doing business. Trying to learn as much as possible to offer a great service. Thanks again everyone!

  • Gareth Mee

    The article highlights some really interesting points. It seems that Facebook likes don’t equal site traffic and when you also consider that many top retailers have on average 10 times more unique users on their websites in one month than they do overall global likes on their main Facebook pages (according to some investigating we, nToklo ( recently did), it raises questions.

    This really suggests that retailers shouldn’t be basing their entire social commerce proposition around Facebook, like a number seem keen to do. Instead retailers should be looking to include social value to their existing sites to drive engagement and relevance to improve sales and ultimately to better understand their customers.

  • jamesbridges


    Great share. I think this still demonstrates that “likes” are not the end result. That’s like stopping at “I have traffic to my website”. I have still found that most companies don’t have a regular strategy for what they are sharing on a daily basis, how to get those who “like” to engage on their website, or even how often they are utilizing events. A page with 100,000 likes but that has no way to monetize that isn’t much good at all.

  • Carrie Hill

    @RG, @Gareth, @James – thanks for adding to the conversation – great comments everyone. I really appreciate everyone’s feedback, this is what makes my job AWESOME ;)

  • U.C.

    Hello I am new here and I just wanted to chime in. IMO there is a difference between Facebook Like and Share. I do not use like at all on my websites. Share is more affective because it posts the actual link to your page which may be shared by others. Like serves no purpose but to only collect information to tailor Facebook PPC ads to its visitors.

  • Carrie Hill

    @Urban – I think you’re right, with the addition of likes being something that pushes stuff up in the news feeds so when you sign in and the “Top News” shows – posts with lots of likes and comments come up at top……

    That being said, if the message is crap, it doesnt really “do” anything for the business!

    Thanks for commenting :)


Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!



Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide