Focus Facebook Marketing On Sharing, Not "Likes"

Jun 07, 2012

It's time to put a stop to the content marketing amateur hour on Facebook. Seriously. It's really embarrassing. Begging people to "like" your Facebook page is not only pathetic, it's a waste of time and money.

It's also unprofessional. Who cares if 1,563 people clicked the "like" button on your Facebook page? Seriously. What does that mean, exactly? Come on, I challenge you to translate "likes" into something meaningful -- sales, leads, something tangible.

You can't. Can you?

That's the unprofessional part. But, don't fret. You're not alone. Many marketing professionals are trying to find things to measure to justify their social media misadventures. "Likes" are just one of the many meaningless data points from which marketers are attempting to divine value.

The problem is widespread. It's due in part to the newness of the medium, the inexperience of the participants, and the fast-changing, moving target that is Facebook. This fluid social platform changes so often and so quickly that it's difficult for most mere mortals to wrap their heads around it. This includes the content marketing digerati.

I'm sick and tired of listening to self-appointed content marketing experts wax poetic on their latest Facebook campaign success. It's ridiculous. While your fellow marketers may be amazed by your ability to lower your "cost-per-like" by 35% last quarter, I wonder if the shareholders who invest money in your companies would be equally impressed. If asked to defend your expenditures, could you? I doubt it.

Instead of asking what a Facebook "like" is worth, we should be asking why "likes" matter in the first place. We should be challenging our so-called thought leaders (and in some cases our bosses and our clients) to not only prove that these matter, but why they matter more than other measurable social networking activities.

For instance, if you were trying to gain the most awareness of your brand for every Facebook dollar spent, why wouldn't you focus most of your efforts on publishing share-worthy content. As it turns out, the most important measurable thing that Facebook users do is share content with others.

When you share content that is engaging, interesting, informative, and/or entertaining, many of your network of Facebook friends may share it with their Facebook network of friends, who in turn, share it with their Facebook friends. The cycle repeats itself over and over again. Your cost is minimal. Your exposure maximized.

When you do it right, you can measure the success of your Facebook efforts in terms of new visitors to your website, new subscribers to your newsletter, new requests for information about your products and services. When you stop treating Facebook like a giant fax machine with a "like" button and begin interacting with your Facebook audience, you will enjoy increased awareness of your brand, which, over time, can lead to sales.

When you publish content on Facebook that others share, they amplify and extend your message. They also increase the potential value of that piece of content as it travels through the social sharing web (outside of Facebook) where it gains more and more attention for your brand. "Likes" don't do this.

But, to succeed at this approach, you'll need more than a Facebook account and a few content marketing tips from a social media guru. You need a content strategy -- a formal, repeatable process that spells out how you intend to leverage your resources to create, manage and deliver content to those who need it in order to reach your business goals. If being "liked" on Facebook is a business goal, then spend your money getting people to push that button.

You'll notice I didn't say you'll need a social networking or social media strategy, because you don't. Social is a channel. It's how you use it (and the other channels at your disposal) that matters. More importantly, it matters whether you are publishing content that will dazzle, amaze, and amuse your audiences. No amount of magical social media choreography can make up for lackluster content.

Instead of collecting "likes," spend your time, energy, and money creating branded content that will engage audiences and motivate them to push the share button. Your job is to attract audience, maintain their attention, and get them to work for you, on your behalf. Period.

If you liked this article (or even if you didn't), why not share it on your favorite social network.

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