London was just waking up when I took a ride with a complete stranger to get to an interview to Oxford. The air was pungent but warm, more than I could ever remember in London. The quiet order of the 5am streets punched with the memory of the night before, fighting to convince my son to go to bed earlier than midnight. Dressed in my best outfit I jumped in the car of a welcoming man about whom I discovered sharing the same toddler battles. I carpool with him up to the city centre of Oxford. Of course, I was hours early for my interview but that gave me the time to stroll around the city and eventually get to the meeting place where a tall, smiling, executive welcomes me and asks me questions about how I’d raise their social enterprise communication profile. Among the many, he asks: how can we get more Facebook followers?
How to get more likes on Facebook
It isn’t uncommon for businesses, social enterprise and anyone with a professional profile to ask themselves how they can get more Facebook followers. The question is based on the equation that more followers equal to social media success, more viewers, more people ready to take action when the time comes. It might be the psychological effect that numbers have on our mind that gives that sense of satisfaction, we see one thousand, ten thousands and think “hey, I’m popular, this is working!”
A few years ago the New York Times published an article explaining how scientists have been able to divide the math problem-solving journey into four distinct stages. The planning is the one requiring more time and effort up until the last stage when the problem is solved and “a shudder of exultation -is sent- along your spinal cord”. What you see above is the visual representation of the brain activity throughout these four stages.
What if our brain functions as if we solved a math problem every time we see those numbers raising under the label “Likes”? We put so much pressure on this numeric value that we start chasing it down with all means necessary: like ladders, paid followers, friends of friends of acquaintances … and in doing so it is hard to stop and think for a while about two questions: why should people follow me? And, do I seek more followers or more interaction?
More followers vs More Interaction
If you can read between the lines, you have already guessed what’s my stand in this Hamletic doubt: more followers or more interaction? Whenever clients ask me how they can get more followers on Facebook, I annoyingly answer with another question: why do you want more followers on Facebook?
You can think about it as if you were to explain it to a child, would you recommend her to have many friends who don’t speak to her or just a few that really play with her? Of course I’m not rooting for the failure of organisations wanting to reach higher visibility. My desire is simply to highlight that approaching a Facebook page with the intent of having more followers can and will set you off with the wrong foot.
When Brandon Stanton started Humans of New York he was an unemployed former bond trader from Georgia looking to keep himself motivated while pursuing his photographic ambitions. He started taking pictures of New Yorkers and consistently registered their stories in first short captions then longer interviews. Now, eight years later, he has more than 18millions likes on Facebook, has travelled allover the world and can finally make a living. Stanton did not start aiming to have millions of likes, what he wanted was to share stories. And he consistently did so. And it was beautiful and people loved it. Hence, more than 18 million people related to his narration. And thousands comment to his posts.
How to get more likes on Facebook?
I hope it doesn’t feel like I have slapped you on the wrists until now, the intention was to stimulate a reflection and conveying a wake-up call to everyone thinking it’s OK to start from the numbers rather than the content. And since being constructive is one of my skills, here comes the list of tips to actually have more human interaction on Facebook:
- Be consistent
- Be real
- Find your own voice
- Speak to people with a people voice
- Keep it simple
- Keep it creative
I won’t go into the details of each tip as I’d need other six blog posts, but feel free to get in touch if you want to know more about it.
Despite being it based on algorithms, Facebook’s own success comes from the need of people to connect to other people. Just keep that in mind when wondering how to get more Facebook likes. And maybe try and ask yourself: if I was that person waking up a dawn to go to an interview in Oxford, what would I like to read? What would I like to see on my mobile? What content would I feel like sharing with my new carpooling friend?
Start from people, not numbers.
And as always, experiment, try, analyse and adapt your content.
Until next time,