Most people intuitively understand the value of social media. They grasp the significance of the advantage of a Facebook like allowing them access to an individual’s social network. If you like something on Facebook, then your friends, family, and other members of your social network are much more likely to take it seriously and give it a look than they would if they just saw a random ad somewhere on the internet, so there’s unquestioned value in that. On the other hand, that’s a very soft, “squishy” construct, that isn’t grounded in data, and as such, it makes it almost impossible to quantify.
Being able to quantify the value of a Facebook like, however loosely, is critical in terms of trying to understand whether or not it is worth the money to actually buy a Like. Whether it pays to buy likes is a question with no easy answers. Below you’ll find the basic framework that drives the thinking that will lead you to the right answer for your company.
The Short Answer Is – It Depends
In large part, whether or not it’s worth it to buy Facebook likes depends on what specifically you’re selling and what industry you’re in. Broadly speaking, we can define this by breaking products into two categories: transitory and semi-permanent.
Transitory products are here today and gone tomorrow. An example here would be a soon to be released motion picture. From the perspective of the studio, it’s going to make its money on the picture based on the time it spends in the theater. Yes, there’s money to be made after that in the form of rentals and licensing, but none of that money will materialize if the movie is a flop. If the movie is a breakout success, then you won’t need to artificially inflate your like count by buying them. That will happen naturally as people see advance screenings of the film and tell their friends about it. In cases like this buying likes is of little to no strategic value. This is true not just of movies but of any largely transitory good or service. It just doesn’t have the kind of shelf life and longevity to make the purchase worthwhile.
Semi-permanent products, however, are a much different animal. The temptation is to say that for all semi-permanent products, anything from cars to cell phones to vacation packages, buying likes is a worthwhile pursuit, but it’s not always so cut and dried.
Take roofing, for example. A typical household roof will last anywhere between 15-30 years, depending on what it’s made of. Some roofing materials will last more than a century if properly maintained. What that means from the perspective of a like is that no matter how many likes you buy, in any given year, you’re just not going to have a significant portion of your fan base going out and springing for a new roof.
Likewise, a company like Apple would probably see little gain in buying likes. They don’t have customers, they’ve got fans, and their fan base is almost evangelical in their willingness to spread the good news about Apple products. That means that even though Apple products are purchased much more often than a roofing company’s, there’s little to be gained by them in terms of buying likes. Their fans will take care of that for them.
But if you’re not a roofing company and you’re not Apple, and you’ve got a moderate to high value product that you’re anxious to get the word out about, then buying likes can be a real boon to your bottom line. Everything depends on exactly what you’re selling and how often you can expect your fans to buy it.