The Anatomy of a Like

Us human beings like to be liked, sure some of us say we don’t give a stuff what other people think but deep down, we all want people to think we are ok! The phenomenon of the ‘like’ on social media has brought this to the fore. But the ‘like’ is evolving and it is now being used in multiple ways. I think that this should impact on the way that we see and measure likes from a business perspective. Let’s look at the main social platforms:


Twitter Logo

Last November Twitter changed the star icon to a heart. In part this was due to the evolution of the way in which the star was being used. When I first joined Twitter I used the star as a way to store items that I liked or to save things for later – for example articles that I didn’t have time to read. However as time went on I started to use the star as a way to show agreement or solidarity with someone. It does mean that my ‘Likes’ are now overflowing and I usually can’t find what I’m looking for in there. When I go in searching for something, I do sometimes ‘unlike’ things if I think people won’t notice anymore – they got the notification in the moment but I don’t need to keep them forever. For good articles I now add them to my reading list on my phone instead. In future I would love to be able to categorise my likes – funny, useful for work, interesting stat etc. It would make it so much easier to find things!

What does all this mean for businesses? Well on Twitter likes have been less important than retweets as they didn’t help your reach as much – although I have started to notice tweets in my timeline labeled as ‘liked by X person’ so perhaps they will start to get you more exposure. The main way to use them as a business is to gauge the level of interest in your tweet to help inform future posts.  Test them a few times as the day and time at which you post could also determine the number of likes you get, but if you are consistently not getting any then it’s a good indication that it isn’t an interesting post.


Facebook logo

Earlier this year Facebook added ‘reactions’ this was to give users a series of emotions to choose from when looking at someone’s post rather than just the thumbs up. It makes sense to give people more options as ‘liking’ a post where someone is talking about how much they miss their dead Grandma is not entirely fitting. Having sad face, laughing face, heart etc gives more opportunity to engage with a post without posting a comment.

Again for businesses, being able to see the range of reactions and volume of likes helps you to assess how successful the post was. Plus on Facebook, getting more likes will help with the Edgerank to a certain extent. If people are interacting with your post it is seen as more interesting by Facebook and so is likely to make it into more feeds. Although I would still always recommend some paid posts on Facebook – but that’s for another blog.


Insta logo blog

I’ve always said that likes are relatively easy to get on instagram. If you think about how you use the platform, you’re just scrolling through pictures in a list so a little click on the heart is not hard to do. So getting hundreds of likes is not necessarily indicative of the quality of the post but more how the user feels about you or your account overall. Comments on the picture, especially where they @ friends in are much more valuable in terms of brand equity. It is still hard to measure re-grams as people often screenshot and repost and there are also multiple apps. The sooner instagram introduce a regram button, the better!

However, having said likes are easy to get, I do think there are different kinds of users on the platform and some are more choosy than others. Instagram is very much about curation of your grid and the image that you give out. I think that there are some users who are equally selective about the pictures they like – after all, it is only them who can see the grid that that creates. When I look at my ‘posts you’ve liked’ it is a higgledy piggledy mess of beautifully shot landscapes, inspirational quotes and my mates kids. I use the heart to agree with what they have written underneath, say well done for whatever they are doing in the picture etc as well as to say that I like a photo. So depending on your target demographic and the content that you post, you may need to work harder to get likes.


Snapchat Logo

This is one platform where I have to face facts that I am not a millennial! I’ve been using it more frequently recently and will write a detailed blog on that soon.

For me the problem with Snapchat is that it doesn’t have the ‘like’ option – that two-way engagement on a universal scale. Yes you can have chats back and forwards with individuals or groups but when you are putting content out in your story, all you know is who looked at it. Not what they thought and what they did as a result. There are some interesting pieces of content by the publishers on the platform and I think the way they encourage people to Snapchat the content to their own friends is great, but how can we really know it is working? I’m sure that there will be a use for this platform for brands in the future but businesses will need to be able to get more measurement out in order to improve their content and get the best results.

So overall, if you want to get likes then you can’t game the system, you need to be creating posts that people will genuinely ‘like’. You need to understand your audience and your brand and then find the common ground between the two. Think about your personal social accounts – you wouldn’t necessarily put the first selfie you take on instagram, you would make sure it was the very best representation. You need to take the same approach with content for your business, don’t post for posting’s sake, post when you have something to say or show that will interest your followers.


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