Uncle Nob’ead : Here’s why bands should stop caring about Facebook likes

Uncle Nob’ead is a column in which an embittered and disillusioned marketing man dishes out advice willy-nilly to those trying to make it in the creative arts world.

In this first feature, he explains why Facebook likes don’t really mean anything. So-and-so invited you to like their band page on Facebook. Are you going to? Let’s discuss.

Facebook likes are a bit like cocaine, at first they seem special and inviting but before long they spell expensive, unrewarding trouble. When you start out a few likes is like a congratulatory pat on the back, after a few months, you’re angry unless you’ve had 100 likes a week. You start to throw larger sums of money at them to feel the same high, sometimes money you can’t even afford. A year later you’re hanging yourself from a train station lamppost like beloved children’s entertainer and cocaine enthusiast Mark Speight from SMart.

Here are three simple explanations of how and why Facebook likes aren’t all that:

1) An increase in Facebook likes can actually be detrimental if you’re not willing to spend money.

You will notice that if you have 5000 likes and you post to your page that only 500 or so people might see that post. This is called your organic reach, or the number of people Facebook will push your post out to without you paying them. Your organic reach is a percentage of the number of people who like your page. If your post is worthy of sharing you’ll notice that the organic reach can be more than your like count.

So how is this bad?

Many bands are obsessed with increasing their Facebook like count, so they invite anyone and everyone to like their page, effectively decreasing their online audience.

If you do not have the budget to take advantage of Facebook’s paid boosts or advertisement it’s important that all of the people you reach organically are engaged fans, i.e. people who are going to listen to your music, share your videos and buy tickets to your gigs.

2) Vanity statements are the illusion of success AKA Facebook Likes =/= success.

Facebook likes are what marketers call vanity metrics. They are the “look at me, look how good I am” measurement of success, like a cheerleader for your band telling everyone how great you are. In reality, 20k Facebook likes do not mean you can sell tickets, increase your YouTube views or SoundCloud plays.

People who spend 40-something hours a week managing social media campaigns will tell you although increasing an organic audience is great, unless it’s an engaged audience then it’s trivial. You can have the largest audience in the world, but unless you can inspire them into action you might as well have not bothered in the first place.

Think of it this way, just because you tell people you have a 9-inch penis, it does not change the fact that if your Tinder date works out you still have a 5-inch penis. You know what I’m talking about.

3) Likes should be a byproduct, not a core focus.

At this point, I don’t want you to be thinking that Facebook likes are bad or that you should not endeavour to build an audience because you should, just make sure it’s an engaged audience.

Likes are a natural byproduct of success and come as part of a wider effort to engage with people. Although it might be that you are on your way to success and you really just suck at social media, so you might want some pointers on how not to suck at Facebook.

Good content strategy.

Facebook lets you post audio, video, text, links and images. Take advantage of posting different types of content that people will want to interact with.

Pick and choose appropriate times to post things to get the most from your audience. If your audience is built up of slacker teens then putting a post out at 8 am is going to go down as well as a Holocaust joke in a synagogue.

Speak to people in real life.

If you bother to make an effort with people, they will bother to make an effort with you. The most highly-engaged audience online in music are acts that engage with their fans, who speak to anyone and everyone at their shows, reply to comments, tweet back and foster a community of looking like they give a shit.

Avoiding social media pitfalls.

Announcing announcements. 15-second teaser videos of electromagnetic noise and low-quality audio. In-jokes: stop posting in-jokes. Posts every 15 minutes of you out and about, these should be relegated to Stories. Being too cool for school, you are not too cool for school, your mum still buys your clothes. We all drink tins of Red Stripe, no girl is getting wet over that. Pseudo-political posts. Thanking towns.

Thank you.

Guest Writer – Uncle Nobhead