In 2007, Facebook launched its ‘like’ feature. Other social media platforms were quick to replicate it. What none of these social media sites realised is that they had just created a digital drug.

The whole world is now hooked on likes. For many of us, they are a symbol of online social approval. It’s not just personal users that are addicted either – businesses are also desperate for likes.

But just what does having lots of likes really mean for your business? While lots of likes can make a company look credible and successful on the surface, likes alone don’t pay the bills. Consequently, many companies are wasting their energy on achieving something that doesn’t actually make them any money. Below is a guide to why you should focus on social media leads instead of social media likes and how to do this. 

Why you need to stop focusing on likes

A like or follow can lead to a sale, but in most cases it doesn’t. Just because someone likes your page or likes that meme you posted doesn’t mean they’ll buy your product or use your service.

People may like posts or follow accounts simply as a way of showing appreciation. In other cases, brands or certain influential people may like or follow you in the hope that you check out their account in return. There may even be cases where your likes aren’t being generated by humans at all – sadly there are lots of bots out there liking content based on keywords.

Chasing up people that like and follow your content is not very effective. Messaging someone that has liked your post or followed your account may come off a little aggressive (like hassling someone who is just browsing your store). They may even unfollow your page or block you in response. 

But what about credibility? Isn’t it worth building lots of likes to come across as a more popular and trusted brand. Perhaps – but there are better ways to build credibility online (as explained in the next section below). Besides, sites like Instagram are also now taking measures to hide likes publicly. Want to know how to see what people liked on Instagram? This may not be possible soon. In fact, some users have already been hit by the update. If other social media sites follow suit, encouraging likes simply to build credibility could become pointless as no-one but you will be able to see your likes anyway. 

Social media tactics that promote leads not likes

So just how do you build leads instead of likes on social media? Below are just three simple effective tactics.

Focus on generating conversation 

It’s much easier to convert a comment into a lead than it is to convert a like or a follow into a lead. Consider posts that encourage people to leave comments. You may then be able to reply to these comments and get people more interested in your brand – potentially even turning them into a direct customer. A few ways to generate conversation include:

  • Posting questions and polls related to your brand or product
  • Showcasing your wackiest and most unique products in order to generate curiosity
  • Using controversial content (although you should steer clear of anything that could be too political or genuinely offensive)

Give people an offer they can’t refuse

40% of consumers follow brands for promotions and discounts. Make sure that you’re using social media to show off all your best deals. This is a great way to directly convert social media users into customers. On top of advertising discounts, you could also hold competitions via social media.

Find ways to prove that you’re credible that don’t include likes

Likes and follows are just a small way to show that you’re a credible company. There are many other ways to show that you’re a credible company via social media, including:

  • Encouraging positive reviews on social media. The likes of Facebook allow users to leave reviews on a Facebook page – these can be much more powerful at swaying customers than likes
  • Show off your hard work and successes. If you own a cleaning company, show before and after photos of your cleaning. If a product is flying off the shelves, tell people about it.
  • Offer advice and facts to show that you’re an expert in your field. This could be particularly effective if you provide a service. An example could be an estate agent company offering advice on getting cheap mortgages or adding value to a home. You could do this in the form of written posts, infographics you’ve made, videos you’ve created or links to blog posts that you’ve published.