Do Facebook Likes Affect Your Bottom Line? / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Facebook likes are one way to gauge if customers like you. But does liking you matter?

When you hear ‘FBI,’ you likely don’t think the Friendly Bureau of Investigation,” writes former special agent Dr. Jack Schafer in The Like Switch: How to Turn People on to You (Simon & Schuster, 2015). 

“My work, which ranged from convincing people to spy on their own country to identifying perpetrators and convincing them to confess, allowed me to develop many incredibly powerful methods for getting people to trust me…My profession boiled down to getting people to like me.”

Hey, if the FBI thinks it’s a good idea to get people to like its agents, shouldn’t you be thinking about ways to get your customers to like you better?

Facebook’s highly successful business model is based on the goal of generating as many “likes” as possible. It goes beyond winning a popularity contest. It is a positive acknowledgement that you are, as Neil Patel writing points out in Marketing Land, in agreement with what someone has said or represents.

The significance of being liked on Facebook is that someone has taken some effort (admittedly, it’s not a lot of effort) to demonstrate interest in and/or acknowledgement of you. That’s why the number of “likes” a business gets on Facebook is an oft-used marketing metric.

Of course, just getting “liked” doesn’t necessarily mean people like you or your products. As Jon Loomer notes:

“Look, big numbers are fun…But the number, in and of itself, means a whole lot of nothing…Many brands, guided by this obsession, buy likes. Or they pay for targeted ads that net them thousands of likes from bots and irrelevant countries. Or they run mainstream contests that bring in the masses.”

Related Article: It’s Not All About the Likes: Why More Facebook Likes Can Actually Hurt You

That sort of thing takes us all back to high school—there are the kids who are liked because they are athletic or good-looking or connected to someone or desirable in some other way.

Then there are the kids who try to be liked by offering something, be it certain illegal substances or favors or purchased objects. But when the 20th reunion comes along, those people don’t seem nearly as likeable as they once seemed.

Why? Because we now realize that we liked these people for basically shallow reasons. The only people who remain likeable over time are those who are, well, likeable. They seem to care about you—your thoughts, your aspirations, your interests.

No, it’s not that they seem to care. They do care.

It works the same way in business. You might order from Amazon for all the reasons people do—it’s convenient, customer service is highly responsive, you can get just about anything at a good price with quick shipping. What’s not to like?

Well, how about that neighborhood bookstore where the clerks know you by your first name and have already pulled a couple of books they know you’d be interested in?

Sure, Amazon does that, too.But it’s only an algorithm.

It doesn’t really “know” you or your name, it’s just pulling from a database. And because once your kid got on your account looking for that Diary of a Wimpy Kid video, you’re forever doomed to get recommendations aimed at pre-teens. There’s no way to turn it off.

Given the choice between doing business with a company that is convenient and price competitive and a company that is all those things but also more likeable, guess which one wins out?

Related Article: Social Media for Small Business: It’s Not All Likes

Making Your Business Likable

Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman is focused on being well-liked. The tragedy is that he doesn’t understand how to get people to like him, and can only pretend to be well-liked. Here’s what we think are key characteristics of a well-liked business:

  • It’s not just about the sale. It’s about the relationship. A key social media metric is how many “Likes” convert into paying customers. While certainly important, it’s equally important, maybe more important, to be liked past the initial sale. You want to develop a relationship with customers that doesn’t always result in a sale, but does result in long-term loyalty because you’ve addressed customer needs. It’s like that scene from Miracle on 34th Street when a Santa Claus in Macy’s department store refers customers to the store’s competitors for toys they don’t have in stock, or are better priced. It makes people believe not only in Santa Claus, but Macy’s.
  • Total transparency. Do what you say you do, don’t claim to do what you can’t, remember that no one likes surprises and take immediate responsibility when you screw up. Sarah Caldicott of the Marketing Executives Networking Group writes:

“More and more, likeability is also becoming associated with transparency. When Netflix shifted its pricing model, customers rebelled, and likeability took a left to the jaw as over one million subscribers zapped their Netflix subscriptions. Similarly, Johnson & Johnson’s extensive quality issues…reveal the company had not been honest with analysts or customers about the depth of its problems. The body blow to the Tylenol portfolio – including Infant Tylenol – exceeds $1 billion.” 

  • Engage customers. Getting to know your customers goes beyond social media marketing, important as that is. It means proactively working with customer in-person as well as virtually at all levels to understand their needs so you can help them meet their needs. As Deborah Shane of Small Business Trends emphasizes, “Using influence, clout and community to educate and inspire is a brand asset that can advance not only, but colleagues, ideas, issues and yes—sales.” 




Image: 123RF/Staniuc

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