Why Your Company May Not Be ‘Liked’ on Facebook

I recently attended a monthly meeting of the Social Media Club of Fort Worth. The majority of those in attendance at the meeting handled their company's social presence or worked for an agency handling social media for other companies. The changes to {complink 10867|Facebook} and how they affect businesses and fan pages were a key topic in what turned into a good debate.

If you are not aware of the changes Facebook implemented, here's a decent summary from Mashable:

It has removed the “Top Stories” and “Most Recent” links on the top of the News Feed and replaced it with a smarter feed that adjusts content based on the last time you checked. If you haven't been on Facebook for three days, it will pull out the top stories from your network. This means you won't miss important relationship status changes, photos or big life events.

If you're a more frequent visitor of Facebook, your News Feed will be filled with more recent content in chronological order. The social network is also giving you the ability to tweak the top stories in your News Feeds by marking or unmarking updates as a “Top Story.”

The main feeling was that these changes would greatly affect their ability to market to those they had easier access to before. And while I don't disagree that there will be some impact, I have to question the problem with the process.

I know, I know. I'm a businessperson; I'm supposed to be all for the greatest access to customers that I can get. But there's something in me that just can't accept that as the best way of doing business. Maybe I'm an out-of-age child of the social revolution. Maybe I inherited some old-school values about personal space; you can choose. But the bottom line is that the social phenomenon is built on one thing: Choice.

In essence, the changes that businesses are upset about are put in place to make Facebook a more targeted experience for the user, showing you what is most relevant first and leaving the less intriguing for further down the page. And if, as a company, you don't make it into this top tier for the Facebook user, maybe you should remember that people don't first get onto Facebook to connect with companies, but instead with people. I believe {complink 9664|MySpace} lost its edge because it forgot this simple fact. Maybe Facebook is making sure it doesn't follow the same path.

Eventually, users will warm to the change, and businesses will adapt to make use of the system. It's the way — we've seen it before, and we'll see it again. If you think this is the last time Facebook will change its stripes, then I have news for you.

Thumbs up or down?

But as a business, how do you deal with the changes? The same way you always have; by staying informative and relevant. If you weren't doing this, then people weren't reading your messages to begin with. I was reading an article by Jay Baer about part of the Exact Target Social Media Series called “The Meaning of a Like.” The article was titled: “The Real Reason Your Customers Don’t Like You on Facebook.” And though the title was surprising, the statistics were even more disheartening. Here are the findings:

  • Only 32 percent of people have ever Liked a company on Facebook
  • The average Facebook user Likes only 9.8 company pages
  • Thirty-nine percent of people who do Like a company on Facebook do not view the Like as permission for that company to market to them in their feed.

From a business perspective, these stats are staggering. Think of the scope for a moment. Only a third of people on Facebook Like companies — and those who do only Like about 10 — and many of them do so just to add color to their profiles. That says a lot about the mindset of a Facebook user and about the businesses that are vying for their eyes. It says that people do not exercise the Like freely, but instead choose their circles in earnest. This might be from years of seeing pointless ads from careless businesses.

Or maybe, just maybe, it might mean that they consider Liking a company on Facebook a grander expression of their support than we realize. What about you? How many companies do you Like on Facebook? And how much thought do you put into pressing that one tiny little button?

44 comments on “Why Your Company May Not Be ‘Liked’ on Facebook

  1. arenasolutions
    October 26, 2011

    I think that is really true, that especially in the manufacturing engineering audience, it can be tough to get attention for your brand. Consumers do follow brands on Facebook, but its generally well-known, consumer products brands that sell things they like, and engage with games and big marketing dollars (there are exceptions to the rule, but, they are exceptions.)

    I think the best thing a manufacturing or engineering co. could do is to play up what they offer and be creative in interacting with the audience. Are you a high-tech electronic product? Well then turn your page into a hub for future-trend news.

  2. Barbara Jorgensen
    October 26, 2011

    Fantastic post as always. The perspective on the meaning of “like” is fascinating. I can say from my own experience that I silo my personal and professional lives. LinkedIn is for business, Facebook is friends and family. Not practical, but for the time being that's how I manage it.

     The idea of a discriminating “like” on companies is interesting. I guess I like companies, but I'm more likely to like products. Also, I have to feel really strongly about something to like it. I'm more likely to trash something than praise it. I wonder if that is behind the trend we're seeing.

  3. Nemos
    October 26, 2011

    I have three or four companies on my profile but only with one of them, I am really impressed about the way it's communicating with the users of facebook. The most common mistake that the people who using the companies profile do is that they think the users who vote their page, with “like” they are also and their costumers.

    As you said :

    “People don't first get onto Facebook to connect with companies, but instead with people”

  4. Parser
    October 27, 2011

    I also separate Facebook and linkedin as friends vs. business. I have marked some companies which are important to me like former employers (which I still like) and a few other exceptions. However, I am not adding my work colleagues to my friends' list. 

    Since my Facebook is towards family and close friends the only advertising which reaches me are organizations like for breast cancer, music and hobby type. Most of my relatives or friends have the same thinking. I would say the business on Facebook is very specific. 

  5. Taimoor Zubar
    October 27, 2011

    I think a lot of companies tend to use social media services like Facebook as a one-tier platform where they present out the information and updates about their products or services to the users. What they fail to realize is that Facebook is two-way communication which gives them a chance to interact with their customers and potential customers and get enormous feedback from them. Rather than posting ads of their products, companies should use their pages to engage into useful conversations with the users. The posts should be targeted to make users respond to them and participate into discussions. One useful feature I have seen recently is when companies throw out opinion polls to people who like their page. That's one good way of getting customer feedback. 

  6. prabhakar_deosthali
    October 27, 2011

    In my opinion also Facebook or any such social networking site should not be portrayed as a business tool.  It should remain a family and friends only medium for gossiping,  photo exchanges and that sort of things. This will also help in the advertisers to focus on that kind of eye-balls for their ads.

  7. jbond
    October 27, 2011

    I think Facebook should be left the way it was intended, a social gathering place to connect with friends or make new friends, we know that will never happen. That being said, I don't mind when companies are advertising sales or promotions, or giving things away, but the blatant marketing is too much. If you've liked a page, you have shown that company that you support them and buy their products or go to their establishments, so there is no need for overwhelming marketing aimed at those individuals. Focus should be on marketing new customers. 

  8. tioluwa
    October 27, 2011

    Well, its obvious, facebook is for social networking, not business.

    I think however, a business that has a face can gain ground on facebook.

    Not many businesses have a strong face that the public love, Apple had such a face in Steve Jobs.

    Also i think businesses that can find a way to connect with the social life of their customers can find a palce on facebook. 

  9. Himanshugupta
    October 27, 2011

    @tioluwza, you're correct that people do not join facebook to connect with the companies but with the people. I think LinkedIn can be a better source for companies to connect with the people but the scope is ofcourse limited. The most advantage a company can get from facebook is through its targeted advertisement. 

  10. tioluwa
    October 27, 2011

    @Himanshugupta i actually think a company can benefit from facebook in other ways apart from advert.

    Take a good example in CNN, though its not a tech company, but its facebook presence is very strong, same goes for IEEE. What these companies have done is focus on the social side of their business that affects their customers, and relate with them on facebook in that dimension.

    element14 is running a very sociable program by asking engineers to upload a 15min video of their life. This gets to the social aspect of people's lives, bonds them  with the company on a personal level beyond just buying commodities, and builds a lasting relationship.

    and i think any company can take advantage of this strategically.

  11. JADEN
    October 27, 2011

    The “Likes” feature on Facebook is simple in nature, users click it to communicate what they think about anything.  Seeing it from a martketing perspective, if you own a business and you run a facebook page, users can “Like” your page or any content you post on it, telling their friends that they like what you have to offer.

  12. Anne
    October 27, 2011

    @ Jaden,

    I agree with your point.  When Facebook users Like your page or its content, his or her frineds will notice either in advertisements or on their Feeds.  Since friends often share common interests, when someone likes your product or business, he exposes it to other people who are more likely to have similar preferences than someone picked at random.  In this way, you naturally target the audience who is most likely to be interested in your brand, service or product.

  13. Houngbo_Hospice
    October 27, 2011

    The main question we should ask is how many companies have a presence on Facebook and if they do how many know how the “like” feature work? Not many. Few companies are still unware of that online “social bond” that is important and valuable in this new information age. 

  14. Houngbo_Hospice
    October 27, 2011


    “element14 is running a very sociable program by asking engineers to upload a 15min video of their life”

     How does a 15min video once in a while help build a relationship between the engineers and element14 or between the engineers themselves? Element14 will need more in  order to help create a permanent and loyal bond  .

  15. Tim Votapka
    October 27, 2011

    I'm with you. Facebook is a “social” communication line. I've got nothing against businesses using it; our consulting group is on FB. I believe that unless you have a business that appeals to a consumer audience, you shouldn't have high hopes for generating much revenue through that line as you would with say Linked In or a Linked In Group of your own creation.

    The other issue is one of PR. Businesses lose control over their corporate communications when employees use FB from their post.

  16. Ariella
    October 27, 2011

    Even if a company succeeds in getting a fair number of people to like its page, that does not mean they have a ROI for social media. Many people like a page to obtain the promotion and then forget about it. Some will even unlike it.

  17. alawson
    October 27, 2011

    @jbond — I think the key here is how businesses use Facebook, or for that matter, Social networking in general. Overbearing is not something that goes over well in any medium, but it just 'feels' worse on Facebook because the site is so personal to us. I understand brands wanting to be a part of your life, and it is those who can do so in a collaborative, friendly manner that see themselves fall in the top 9.8. Thanks for the comment.

  18. Daniel
    October 28, 2011

    Andy, since Facebook is a very popular social media, where most of the peoples are hanging out, it have a better reachability and visibility to the customer. Any news or advertisement through such medium are comparatively less expensive, when compare with the other medias like TV add or News paper. That’s the main reason most of the companies have their presents in Facebook and other online sites.

  19. tioluwa
    October 28, 2011


    frankly speaking, i'm speaking solely from my on pespective and thought.

    I think a businesses approach to social media for now is personal.

    the connection between business and social media has not been properly analysed and maximized.

    However, i do believe there is a connection. We once discussed extensively on how consumers should react to the issue of slave labour in the production of commodities they consume, now we are looking at how and if social media connections can affect a companies business.

    I think of community servicies, sponsorships and other strategies that companies use to raise awareness of their business and increase sales can work, then i'm sure that social media can also be used.

    I think it is more than facebook ads, i'm thinking really getting social with the customers or potential customers.

    I imagine companies having a dedicated social media department appart from sales, advertising and marketting.


  20. alawson
    October 28, 2011

    @Jacob — Thanks for the comment.  Though liking and advertising on FB are very different in utilization, you bring up a good point.

    I realize that the 600 million+ users of Facebook is staggering–and that is only part of its's worth.  The real power behind Facebook for Marketers is the engine underneath that churns a micro-segmented database allowing you to target advertisements down to users targeted by age, sex, location, and interests.  VERY powerful, yes.  

    But productive? If I am interested in Facebook for personal networking, as some of the 'lliking' numbers show, then how apt am I to click on the ad? Still up in the air, I believe.

  21. alawson
    October 28, 2011

    @TIOLUWA – Good response. I, too believe we have yet to see Facebook business use as a success for the average company. But if there is one thing I have seen, no one has the same measures in mind. Usually you hear about likes and comments and ad clicks. But where is the measure of extended branding? And of deepened relationships? Where is it measured the number of potential customers whose view of you as a business was raised due to your grasp of emerging social techology simply because you 'ge't something that they hold dear? Lots of questions, I know. Bottom line is I agree with you. If word of mouth recommendation continues to remain a strong influencer of buying decisions, then networks like Facebook will remain important to businesses who want to stay top of mind.

  22. alawson
    October 28, 2011

    @Barb – Glad you liked the post–been holding off to answer yours until I had seen other feedback.

    I like your honesty here. I firmly believe that all people silo their personal and professional lives to some extent; its just that those lines stretch to accomodate your fields of interest. I don't think that a forced mix of the two is what would not be practical. If it fits, then make it so. 

    But, I like best your honesty about praise and trash. I think that this is often the case. We are not compelled often enough by good feelings to take an extra step as we are by bad ones. Not just online, either. Most people are more likely to tell a waiter the food was horrible than excellent–more likely to yell at an umpire for one bad call than for 300 good ones.

    Its all about expectation.  We expect things to go right, and therefore don't feel compelled to praise receiving just what we expected. It is this mindset above all others that makes it challenging cultivating good feelings about our brands online.

    Thanks again for the post.


  23. Barbara Jorgensen
    October 28, 2011

    @Andy–excellent point as always. The idea that we expect things to go right brings up a data point someone–I think Mike Long–made at ECIA. The electronics industry's quality rating is something like 99.8%. We do take quality and service for granted. It speaks well for the industry and for our quality of life. But, having been self-employed for awhile, I have made it a point to offer a recommendation for any person who provides a service–recently, plumbing, window repair, tree removal and deck building–that is well done. I will try to apply that to my FB habits, (although it is a stretch it call it a habit yet.)

    Thanks, as awlays for your posts and follow-up with our readers.

  24. Nemos
    October 28, 2011

    Indeed Ariella, also I want to mention why the programmers of Facebook insists and dont put the dislike bottom……

  25. alawson
    October 28, 2011

    @Ariella – You hit on a good point. How many 'likes' do you think are attributable to contests? I think you would find it to be a large number. And though I enjoy the occasional contest, I am picky about those I would employ.  Objectives of such things should be deeper than “To get more likes”. The objective should instead be r “to educate/deepen awareness in our brand as a viable option for #fillintheblank#”. The benefit to the visitor then is more than just the chance at a prize. They may walk away with some knowledge that helps them accomplish something.

  26. Susan Fourtané
    October 29, 2011


    Imagine no more. Some companies do have a dedicated group of social media “experts”– as they love to call themselves, and their mission is to get as many “likes” as possible in the less time possible and it doensn't matter too much how. Some of their tricks and results make an interesting social behavioural study, though.


  27. Tim Votapka
    October 29, 2011

    Personally I think it's best to stay in the B2B realm, and find out what the engineers and purchasers refer to. I've had far more success generating reaches and hits by posting data of value to Linked In because I'm zeroing in on the right targets.

  28. Ariella
    October 29, 2011

    @alawson I agree absolutely. an accumulation of Likes should not become an end in itself.

  29. alawson
    October 31, 2011

    @Susan – Anyone who says they are a 'Social Media Expert' is delusional. The medium itself has only been around for a few years, and in that time has evolved so quickly that expertise is obselete almost before it is announced. 'Social Media Consultant' seems the term used by most respectable professionals in the field.

  30. Susan Fourtané
    October 31, 2011


    I definitely agree with you, but the fact is that I do know some people who call themselves Social Media Experts. 


  31. tioluwa
    October 31, 2011

    How i wish we had one of them social media expert to answer us here. If there really is such a thing as a social media expert, then they should have all the answers to these questions. but since Andy Lawson thinks there is no such thing as a social media expert, then i guess we just have to let time tell if it is possible to mix business and social networks profitably


  32. Ms. Daisy
    October 31, 2011


    I just love how different people come up with these cute titles “social media expert' and tout the status that are unverifiable or have no evidence based validity to it. But the idea of companies using social media as a forum for doing business has been worrisome to me. Granted the volume of people is there at these sites and ads can be viewed by many people, beyond that is just plain unprofessional from my point of view.

  33. Susan Fourtané
    October 31, 2011

    Hi, Ms. Daisy 

    Indeed. It's very amusing. 

    Social media is just one more tool but some people seem to think it's the new and only tool. But then again, volume of people doesn't necessarily mean volume of sales or volume of guaranteed success in business, does it? 


  34. Susan Fourtané
    October 31, 2011

    Yes, Tioluwa, that would be great. However, I believe there is not a real need of an “expert”. About business and social media profitability there are two groups: the ones who believe that social media is great and very useful to their business and the ones who distrust social media and think it's a waste of time. To what group do you belong? 


  35. Ms. Daisy
    October 31, 2011

    Susan, absolutely not! Sales and business success cannot be determined by volume alone, especially volume in a social context. One of the childhood messages I got was that “business and pleasure are not compartible”, unless you are the one being paid to entertain. I hope the “experts” will re-think terms like product, leadership, management, and professionalism.

  36. electronics862
    October 31, 2011

    Thanks for the post Andy. Facebook is coming with business stragecies which will help companies to get the feedback from customers. These changes made to facebook will help to gain more users.

  37. Susan Fourtané
    November 2, 2011

    ” I hope the “experts” will re-think terms like product, leadership, management, and professionalism.”

    Exactly, Ms. Daisy!

    A good exercise is to think what company comes to your mind that follows that kind of thinking. Or what kind kind of company would be truly and honestly “Liked” on Facebook, without all the social media “experts” push. 



  38. alawson
    November 4, 2011

    @Susan – On Social Media being THE one new tool for Marketing: I hear this a lot. The key here is education–teaching those with this mindset that Social is a tool in your toolbox, not a toolbox itself. This is why I encourage groups not to have a separate plan/budget for Social that is outside their normal Marketing plan. It should be interwoven into your overall Marketing mix. Thanks again for the comments.

  39. alawson
    November 4, 2011

    @Ms. Daisy – Those closest to the term 'expert' that I have met exemplify these terms: product, leadership, management, and professionalism. See Chris Brogan, Jason Falls, Jay Baer, Brian Solis, etc… Google their names and you will find tons of material. They are, more than anything, educators in their field.  They don't teach you just how to gain followers, but instead how to use Social to extend your reach and engage your customers and prospects in the ways that many have come to prefer.

  40. alawson
    November 4, 2011

    @electronics862 – I believe that Facebook has a long term plan for businesses. Beyond advertising and Biz pages, there is the part that businesses and products play in our everyday lives. Ignoring this would be frowned upon by customers and businesses alike. Thanks for the comment.

  41. alawson
    November 4, 2011

    @TIOLUWA – Titles are mis-leading. I think that to say you know everything about something is short-sighted in a field that evolves as quickly as this one. My advice? Ignore the title and listen to the message. Read testimonials and talk to people who have done business with that person before. Form your own opinion about their expertise. Thanks for commenting.

  42. Susan Fourtané
    November 5, 2011

    Exactly. I am in total agreement with you. Thank you very much, Andy. 


  43. Kunmi
    November 25, 2011

    Good question! It is a matter of two faces but Facebook is a powerful tool that can open varieties of business channels now and in the future because it inclined people socially. This is the main reason why one can not underestimate what facebook can become. I do not think that any biz/company may not be “liked” on facebook. It is a viral resource that is good for all companies.

  44. Damilare
    November 30, 2011

    I do agree you. i mean whats the use of getting “Likes” When a considerable percentage of users who put up these likes dont even see it as a permission for the companies to market them.

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