UPDATE: In January 2021, Facebook announced they will be discontinuing the Like button in favour of the Follow button. This hasn’t been actioned yet.  Going forward people will potentially only have the choice to Follow or not. We feel this is a good thing, as it removes the confusion between follows and likes.

What’s the Difference Between Likes and Follows?

Before we can discuss which number is more important, you need to understand Likes vs. Followers.
  • Like is a person who has chosen to attach their name to your Page as a fan.
  • follower is a person who has chosen to receive the updates that you post in their news feed (subject to the Facebook algorithm of course).
The two are independent. A liker/fan can choose to unfollow, i.e. Your mom could like your Page just because it’s your Page, but choose to unfollow because she doesn’t really care about what you’re posting. Similarly, someone could choose to follow the page and get the posts because they want the content, but for whatever reason they do not want their name associated publicly with the Page.
The default when one Likes a new Page includes following. It is a choice to unfollow and/or follow without Liking.
As well, there are levels to the following: See first, default and notifications. See first puts anything that Page posts on top of your newsfeed. Default is “normal”. And then in the notifications, one could actually choose to get a notification every time the Page posts.

Likes vs. Followers, Which is More Important?

Neither really. What is important when looking at Likes vs. Followers is twofold:
  1. The numbers increase over time, not decrease;
  2. The gap between Likes and Followers does not increase over time.

In general, you want your fan base to grow over time and you want those people to continue to follow you. If the gap between the numbers is growing, you’re losing people and that’s not good in any scenario.

We’d say followers are more important because they at least have the potential to see your content, where as those who have chosen to unfollow have decidedly chosen NOT to.

So, What Is Important?

The most important is engagement. The rate at which your audience is engaging with your content. It doesn’t matter if you have 100,000 Likes or Followers if they aren’t actually reading, engaging with and remembering your content.
Post Level Engagement Rate = Number of Engagements / Reach (or, the number of actions taken on your post divided by the number of people who saw it.)

Time to re-think your content

We’ve never seen a significant difference between Likes & Followers on the business pages we manage, but there is sometimes a small discrepancy. When we see that, we take time to analyse what we’re doing with the page.

Is the content we’re posting engaging to our followers? They obviously still want to be associated with us in some way as they’ve not simply unliked the page. Have we lost touch with who our audience is? Are we being consistent with our posting? We take some of these things into account, we regroup and we move forward.

It’s easy for us as a business to continually look at what we’re doing and refresh it if necessary, because it’s our job to do that. But when you’re running your own business, and wearing all the hats that entails, it’s easy to forget about social media strategy. If it’s working, why reinvent the wheel, right?

In summary – take a look at your Likes v Followers, and if the follower figures are significantly less than the likes, you need to give serious reconsideration to your social media content strategy.

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