What is the value of a like?

Brands and advertisers poured tens, often hundreds, of thousands of dollars collecting Likes, and Facebook had us convinced there was value in doing so. Today, there are various advertising opportunities and objectives, but Likes are still widely considered an indicator of brand loyalty and growth opportunity.

The question remains, however: What is the value of these Likes? This is the million-dollar question, and it’s one that few marketers dare to dive into. We’ve been accustomed to avoiding it, only going so far as to concede that “there’s gotta be some value there.”

In my opinion, there is value in a Like, but maybe not in the way you might think.  It can certainly be stated that there is relationship between a follower Liking a brand on a social platform and that follower spending more on the brand than non-followers. But is that relationship one of correlation or causation? Here is where we as marketers need to take an earnest look at the data.

In what I consider to be the most data-driven, comprehensive evaluation of the value of a Like, Harvard Business Review carried out a set of controlled experiments (23 to be exact) to look at the possible impact of Likes on transactions or behaviors by a user, or people within the user’s social circle. Their findings? The mere act of Liking a brand does not affect a consumer’s behavior or lead to increased purchase volume. Furthermore, among the 18,000 people included in the study, the endorsement of a brand did not produce significant influence on a friend or family member’s likelihood to purchase.

These findings are disheartening and a harsh realization for marketers. However, there is light at the end of this tunnel. Meaningful consumer behavior changes can be made via social media in the form of branded endorsements and paid amplification. While the aforementioned study details that pull marketing efforts (trying to draw customers in via social media) are ineffective at causation, push marketing is another story. To put it simply, advertising plays a significant role in igniting meaningful action via social.

It’s vitally important that a brand invest in amplifying its message and the positive endorsements around its brand via social platforms. In one of the HBR-controlled studies, users in one group who Liked a page and were then shown paid posts and advertisements were more likely to take meaningful action, measured in real business results, than those in a control group. This one-two punch of combining push efforts with pull is where dollars are made for a brand.

Invest in amplification of customer testimonials, paid influencers, brand partnerships and positively themed third-party endorsements of your brand. These types of content are referred to as “earned media.” The best social marketers drive measurable results when they embrace a holistic earned, owned and paid approach.

There is also very real value in what I refer to as “social proofing.” This essentially means that Likes, comments and shares provide a sense of legitimacy around your brand. Your credibility goes out the window when you only have a few Likes for your branded Pages and page posts.

In multiple customer journey studies, which follow the paths that consumers take when evaluating a purchase, quite often, one of the first things a consumer will do is look at your social pages. The various things consumers look for include whether you have a high number of followers; whether your page posts are getting lots of (positive) engagement; whether you have brand evangelists, reviews and so on. When you’re hitting a favorable level of perceived credibility, the psychological “warm and fuzzies” are built up in the form of social proofing.

An exciting announcement made at the recent F8 conference, held annually by Facebook, was that there are now improved ways to track whether Page and post engagements lead to intent-driven behaviors. For example, you can evaluate whether those who commented on a post or Liked your Page take measurable action on your site or app. I encourage you to get cozy with the many omnichannel analytics enhancements that are rolling out for brands on Facebook.

So start assigning real dollar values on social-driven actions. Get the buy-in from senior leadership at your organization on actual dollar amounts, and as a brand, you will march together toward social profitability.

A good place to start is traffic to your site or app. I have yet to meet a marketer who would dispute that traffic from any source can be assigned a dollar-per-visit amount. Given that “organic” social traffic typically converts at a fraction of more intent-to-purchase traffic sources, factor this into your value assignment. For example, if your dollar-per-visit on non-brand search is $1.00, and organic social traffic converts at 1/10th the rate, the social traffic would be valued at $0.10 per visit.

Taking the above recommendation steps further, you can assign dollar values based on depth of visit, time on site and email addresses. Another recommendation would be to segment organic social traffic into a retargeting pool, push direct response ads to these users, and then tally the cost of the initial visit, plus costs to remarket to the point of conversion in your CPA (cost per acquisition) assessment.

Social media is closely related to public relations and other investments a brand makes to maintain favorable positioning. When determining social value, consider the real costs you encounter when pushing press releases and other materials that solidify a positive reputation. There is likely a dollar amount your brand has already set aside for these efforts, or should.

My last piece of advice on measurement is to invest in ways that allow you to truly measure omnichannel impact at all stages of the funnel. Understand how your channels interact and which roles they are best suited to play (e.g., an introduction, influencing or closing channel). These types of investments are always money well spent, in my opinion, and they raise your status as a marketer who looks at the entire customer journey.

While Likes as a standalone endorsement do not provide a high return, meaningful dollars can be made when you take a pragmatic and holistic approach. Remember to always test and measure, and then test again. Your social media presence is a direct extension of every single channel and department of your organization. Make it the central hub of your marketing focus, where all earned, owned and paid efforts are combined. Spend your social dollars wisely on tactics and strategies that produce real, measurable results for your brand.

An important thing to note is that not all customers take the same journey on their path to purchase. This journey is increasingly complex and unique for all brands, and social offers an opportunity to nurture consumers in a customized way. Branding and paid efforts need to do a delicate dance within your organization. Promote positive brand interactions, endorsements and experiences — and consumers will respond more favorably when presented with a direct response message.

So “What is the value of a Like?,” the answer is “Whatever you’re willing to pay for it.” You need to gain an understanding of the monetization you can derive from a social engager for your brand.

Interesting reads:









  1. I always tell writers that a “like” is one of the lowest levels of commitment a viewer can engage your writing with. A view, then a like, then a comment, then a follow, then a reblog are how I generally see the levels of engagement. A like is nice – but like you say, in the end what is it worth?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oooo an interesting topic! I like the inclusion of research, especially how “The mere act of Liking a brand does not affect a consumer’s behavior or lead to increased purchase volume”. It’s definitely an odd one, when you think that 10 years ago we never ‘liked’ anything with the click of a button. It reminds me a bit of the book The Circle. It ends up feeling very robotic and not genuine.. yet seems to have value that doesn’t equate to actual outcomes, it’s more psychological than anything. Intriguing post!
    Caz x

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Well, what I realize now from your recent behaviour on my french blog and my followers’blogs is you’re eager to collect as many likes as you can, with no regards to the content you’re liking… but only to the blogs followers and thus the possible additional likes you could get there : -you’ve been systematically adding to your “blogs I follow” list almost instantly after they subscribed to my blog
    – you’ve been liking articles without ever making any comment (may be because they’re written in french and you don’t read or speak it ? )
    – I’ve unsubscribed you once, to make you politely understand I disagreed with your attitude, then another time because you apparently didn’t take notice.
    – And now that you’re not a follower any more, I notice that you’re still fishing my latest follower… not later than this morning .

    The economic value of a like or a follower doesn’t mean you can behave this way with people. We’re people, not merchandise.


    • Dear Esther

      Thank you for sharing. Let me explain. Firstly, I read your posts via google translate which I hope does a good job translating! Your blog captures a lot of reflections which does cause me to rethink about my life so thank you. Secondly, I think reflections are important to me and if you are keen on comments, I will certainly do so. Thirdly, I do not really follow who follows me or does not because to be frank, I am not a wordpress guru and can’t check! Pretty embarrassed about it. Though Likes are now the social currency and rest assured that I like it because I truly do. I regularly search for content that inspires and put in a like when I really do. I truly was not fishing for your followers as my purpose of my blog is to capture my life’s experiences and thoughts. If it benefits people then it is certainly a benefit. Finally I typically follow people who follow me because it’s more of being polite and to make sure that the content pops up in my inbox so that I can have a read. And to be fair I am not aware of who subscribes to your blog and hence will not be able to follow them. I have to admit that I am a wordpress novice still with lots to learn. Finally, if I do offend you in anyway I hope that you can accept my apologies as I did not mean what you mentioned above in any way and will definitely do what is necessary to change your impression. Hope to clear up the misunderstanding. Keep up the writing! Thanks!

      Liked by 3 people

      • Hello abetterman21, thanks for your reply and explanations. Let’s consider everyone deserves a second thought, and presumption of innocence 🙂 Anyhow, thanks also for your apologies, which is not such a common reaction on social networks. I’ll keep on writing, even if I know Google translators do not pay actual tribute to a writer’s work ^^ Whatever, you’re right : substance prevails over the form !

        Liked by 1 person

      • “And to be fair I am not aware of who subscribes to your blog and hence will not be able to follow them. ” : once again, I am quite surprised that one of the blogs I decided to subscribe a few hours again this morning is appearing in your “blogs I follow” list today. Especially considering I stopped following you a few days ago. You told me you’re a novice on wordpress, but apparently there seems to be an automated process that you might not be mastering. Could you check and explain ? Thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. @Esther A typo on my part. I do not know those who unsubscribe to my blog unfortunately and this does not concern me. As for those who kindly subscribe to mine, I return the favour by following them as well. The blogs that I seem to subscribe to appears in my blogs I follow list could be due to that fact. I hope this explains the matter and hope that we can move from this and get back to the important task of developing even better content!If there are any other ways that I could do better, do let me know. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hey! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a team of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us useful information to work on. You have done a extraordinary job!

    Liked by 1 person

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