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What’s the real value of a Facebook Like?

In the world of social media, and with self-proclaimed experts on it popping up everywhere (some actually full of experience, some full of… something), it’s interesting to see how people act and how they value a Facebook Like.

My friends

I have a few friends, acquaintances, web people and other on Facebook — without a doubt the most diverse contact group I have in any forum. People I played in a band with in my teens, to people I’ve set next to on a plane; people I’ve gotten to know through working with the web to friends who have no idea what the web is (but they’re nice anyway — go figure).

This means that the status updates that show up in the Facebook stream for me is of such a mixed nature, it’s entertaining and also almost a bit weird, given the violent context-switching I go through when scrolling. It also means that seeing how people react to my status updates (I generally don’t write about the web there) and experiencing how other people’s statuses go down, there must be an abundance to learn about human nature. A fountain of wisdom. Or something.

Like this!

But one of the most interesting things is the grave misconception of how much a Facebook Like is really worth. That if you get enough Likes, it actually means you have any value as a being. That you have a valid opinion, that you really were funny or that you baking a cake/running 10 kilometers on your hands/posting a funny picture you stole somewhere makes you worth more.

So, here’s some news for you: some people (a lot, actually) click Like without even following your link or even reading what you said. Shocking, isn’t it? For you as a person, well, this might affect your self-esteem, knowing that a Like isn’t someone genuinely agreeing with what you said, but, at most, a courteous smile for a second.

Getting attention

And if you use Facebook for business reasons, it’s all about metrics. Numbers to prove that you matter. In that case, I’d say play the game and use it for what it is. Go for the low-hanging fruit: if the status update is too serious or requires, you know, making a stand or something, it seldom gets popular (if that’s not the entire project/product cause, naturally). Unless you can get the first five likes or so, to bump it up in people’s Facebook streams.

Rather go for short clear messages where people instinctively feel something (hopefully positive) about it. Maybe by relying on Thruthiness.

It’s just Likes

In the future, if/when you use Facebook, I do hope you get many Likes! But don’t take a bunch of them, or lack thereof, for any kind of evidence of quality or popularity.

This article by Robert Nyman originally appeared on Robert’s Talk and is republished with permission.

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