The Negative Effects Of Engaging With Your Own Facebook Content (And The Impact On Long Term ROI)

Does liking your own Facebook page and/or posts increase your reach and help your marketing presence? Many “gurus” say it does. But if you are trying to build an effective marketing presence, it can actually hurt you in the long run.

Article Difficulty Level: Intermediate

One of the biggest “hacks” to increasing your organic Facebook reach has been around forever: “like” your own Facebook posts, and you’ll reach more people! It makes sense… or does it?

If you plan on ever possibly advertising on Facebook, this practice can cost you a lot of money in the long run.

In theory, here’s how it works: the Facebook algorithm ranks content higher that has more engagement. The earlier that engagement occurs, the more valuable it is. Therefore, a “like” right when you publish your post will give it a boost in the algorithm.

Early on, it made sense – and it usually worked. However, the tactic quickly became hotly debated. Many people that didn’t understand how the algorithm worked saw it as tacky and arrogant. Your name under your own post as a “like” may not seem odd to you, but it rubs a lot of people the wrong way. Because of the negative impression it gave out, many (or most) marketers ditched this tactic altogether.

Does the algorithmic benefit outweigh the damage done by coming across as a jerk? This has been a point of contention among social media marketers for years. On one side, some claim that any reach is good reach – while others insist that people will ultimately be less likely to engage with content that they see as unprofessional, lowering your engagement in the long run.
Based on the introduction to this post, you probably assume I side with the latter group. However, I oppose the “liking” of your own posts (and even your own Facebook Page) for entirely different reasons.

Before I go any further, I should specify that my advice is designed primarily for small and local business owners, like a gourmet bakery, or business owners with a larger geographic audience but a very narrow demographic one, like online jewelry sales.

That being said, let’s go ahead and get the two issues from above out of the way. What impact do these factors have in 2018? Some things to consider:

 

  1. The algorithm has grown up. As time has gone on, the Facebook news feed algorithm has become increasingly complex. Facebook has invested countless dollars into identifying and penalizing spammy behavior. While I have no direct evidence to support this, I personally believe based on my own experience that Facebook specifically negated the effect of your own interactions with your posts on the algorithm some time ago. This means (if true) that any engagement you make with your own posts is specifically banned from having any effect. This may or may not be the case, but at the end of the day, there’s no conclusive proof that it still works, either.
  1. You still look like a jerk. Even more so than years ago, liking your own post still comes across as a total dick move to anyone that doesn’t know why you’re doing it. It significantly impacts the quality of your post at a time when first impressions mean everything.

 

Now, let’s move on to the more technical (yet far more helpful) reasons why liking your own content is a bad idea. I’ll go a step farther: you shouldn’t even like your own Facebook Page… unless you are also part of your business’ target market. Why? Lookalike audiences.

As I’ve discussed elsewhere on this blog, Lookalike Audiences are currently the best method of reaching new people, hands down. Basically, a Lookalike Audience is equivalent to you telling Facebook, “Hey. See those people right there? Find me the 1% of the total population that is most similar to those people.” Lookalike audiences can be based on page likes, engagements, website visitors, video viewers, and more. Learn more about Lookalike Audiences here.

Facebook’s algorithm is extremely good with Lookalike Audiences. It accomplishes this by finding common denominators. With tens of thousands of data points on every user, this is easy for Facebook to do. Facebook looks at the audience you are starting with and sees what those people have in common. It then looks at the whole population and finds the people that have the most data points in common with your people.
This can save you thousands of dollars in research and testing. Even if you don’t know who your ideal customer is, Facebook can find out, with very little effort.

Here’s the problem, though. LLAs only work if your core audience is undiluted. If you want to create a lookalike audience based off of your current page likes but half of your followers are not your ideal customer, then it won’t work. Those people’s attributes will get thrown into the mix, and the Lookalike Audience won’t end up looking at all like your ideal customer. Your ads will be inefficient and costly.

Facebook ad marketers that are smart, experienced, and educated understand something: it takes time. The audiences you build when you first start out will be the basis for the audiences you’ll use all the way down the line. If you dilute your audience when you first create your page, you may never reach anything close to peak advertising efficiency. You’ll always have a relatively large subset of the people seeing your stuff that would never consider being your customers.

In a world where we are capable of only ever advertising to our potential customers, it makes no sense to waste money on anyone else. With a little patience and preparation, you can knock the socks off of your long term marketing presence.

So, back to the problem at hand. As I said earlier, unless you are in your page’s target audience, you should make sure you never like your page or any of your posts. Hopefully, that makes more sense now.
Here’s an example.

You own or are marketing a small gourmet bakery. Your ideal customer is 25-45 year old married women with at least one kid. You, however, are a 20 year old single male. If you launch your page with yourself as a like, and try to create a Lookalike Audience as soon as possible (at 100 page likes), your attributes will dilute the audience by 1%. The audience Facebook creates for you may now include some 20 year old men. That’s a gross oversimplification of how it works, but it illustrates the process.
1% may not seem like a lot, but it’s statistically significant – and if you can save 1% or more on your overall Facebook ad costs for the entire lifetime of your business just by not liking your own page, why wouldn’t you?

This brings up an important point: don’t invite all of your friends to like your page. More on this in a second.

I know what you’re probably thinking. If you can’t like your own page or invite anyone to like it that is outside your target audience, how do you grow?

Patience.

You can’t rush this. There used to be a time where you could quickly and effectively grow a business on Facebook, because all the customers were there but few of the businesses were. Now, you are competing for that attention with every other business owner out there. There is SO much content on Facebook, and only a limited number of posts can be seen by everyone each day. You need to have a long term plan early on, and practice patience.

Let’s talk numbers for a second.

A week after your page launch, if you’re a small business, 15 quality page fans is better than 150 you got from inviting everyone on your friends list. I’d rather have 100 page likes with 95+ of them in my target audience, than 10,000 page likes with 1,000 of them (10%) in my target audience. 1,000 may sound better than 95, but if you are ever hoping to use effective ad strategies for your page, it will hurt you a lot in the long run. If I wanted to grow that page with advertising, and only 1,000 of my 10,000 fans were in my target audience, I’d be wasting 90 cents or more of every dollar that I spent on ads to Lookalike Audiences. In fact, once a page becomes that diluted, it’ll be nearly impossible to recover. There are advanced tactics that can help out, but it’s expensive and time consuming.

Don’t get caught up with your page likes number. It doesn’t matter if your competition has ten times as many likes as you. If you’re doing it the right way and they aren’t, you’ll see far more return on your investment in the long run.

At the end of the day, likes that don’t (or never could) translate into dollars actually take dollars out of your pocket.

This is a common mistake many business owners make. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do giveaway contests… If your giveaway is pulling in page likes from people that are outside your target market, then you are hurting your business – not helping it. Make sure the prize and messaging will bring people in that are potential customers.

Think of it this way: every interaction by an actual potential customer on your page is $1/year in your pocket. Every interaction by someone who would never buy something from you is $1/year out of your pocket. With that in mind, constantly ask yourself whether or not what you’re doing on Facebook will make your total $/year go up or down.

Side note: everything said here applies to Instagram as well, as it is owned by Facebook and uses the same advertising platform.

Lookalike audiences are the most effective way to expand your business on Facebook. Don’t ruin them.

Questions or feedback? Comment below. I’ll try to respond when I get a chance.

Here’s where I make a sales pitch, right? Nah. I’m just a nerd that likes to write. You can’t hire me, I’m far too busy already.

4 thoughts on “The Negative Effects Of Engaging With Your Own Facebook Content (And The Impact On Long Term ROI)

    1. Hey, James! Thanks for letting me know about the problem. I believe it is resolved now. It had something to do with me typing it up on my phone in Google Docs and then pasting it into the WordPress app. The error was only appearing on the desktop version. I reformatted it on my laptop just now and it appears to be working fine. Please let me know if you notice any further issues.

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