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4 Meanings Behind Likes that You Receive on Social Media

It’s no secret that social media marketing is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways for your business to reach out to individuals and other businesses. When someone follows your business on a social media platform, your posts will show up on their feed.

The drawback of old-fashioned email marketing is that your ad or newsletter is easily separated from personal emails. With email marketing, the user must intentionally open the email in order for it to be effective. Your business’s social media posts, however, will be fully displayed in the user’s feed without their having to open it. Your posts will then be seamlessly sandwiched between posts from that user’s friends and family. This gives your business the opportunity to become a personable and familiar face.

But! Just because you post something does not mean that it automatically shows up in your followers’ feed. Different platforms have different algorithms for which posts show up in an individual’s feed. This is especially true of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These algorithms change so frequently that their actual values remain opaque to users. Ultimately, their purpose is to make it easier for users to spend their time reading through posts that they are interested in. This means that user feedback is the most important factor to whether your business gets seen on social media feeds.

While gaining followers is a powerful way of expanding your influence, the efficacy of your social media marketing is not fully contingent on your number of followers. Most social media platforms, including the largest—Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram—have a “like” option, often shaped like a heart or thumbs up, to help rank each and every post.

A post’s popularity from likes will play a large part in determining how easily it will come up in a search, whether it can be found by seeing others who liked it, and, perhaps most importantly, how long it will be featured in a feed. Each user’s ability to like posts is free and unlimited. However, some users tend to be more liberal with how many posts they like than others. What posts a user likes indicates taste and approval, and it plays into that user’s own self-branding as they vie for their own followers.

So what does it mean when someone likes your post?

1. Self-Promotion

Other users of social media will like your posts in order to promote themselves and their own brands. They are getting their name out there by liking other brands and businesses. Not only will you get a notification when they like your post, but other people will also be able to see their name when they look at who liked this post.

Larger brands will often do this to patronize smaller brands, and individuals who make things similar to their industry. It puts them on the radar of rising talent, and their likes are also more visible in a smaller pool.

How to use this:

  • Cultivate a relationship with brands that are reaching out to you. Follow them and comment on their posts so that you stay on their radar.
  • You can like things for self-promotion too. The key is to make make a supportive presence on another user’s page, without making them feel like you are only trying to lead them back to your own page.

2. Networking and Outreach

Sometimes you will find affiliate businesses and brands that are willing to help promote your brand. You can easily develop these from in person by networking and getting to know other local businesses.

Other businesses will promote you by tagging your business in posts, sharing and reposting your posts, and making sure to like your posts. Often, those who will be promoting you this way are not in the same line of business as you, so there is no competition involved in promoting your brand.

How to use this:

  • Start local! For relationships with other businesses in your area. Offer to promote them, and they might feel comfortable promoting you back.
  • Find businesses that attract a similar demographic to yours. For example: It probably won’t help you to ask a local hunting goods store to promote your all vegan cosmetics line, even if you are great friends with the shop owner. These brands will attract different demographics, and will probably have little crossover. You will have better luck co-promoting on social media with another luxury goods brand.

3. Personal Style

Businesses are not the only users of social media trying to brand themselves. Personal accounts and bloggers also follow trends and brands to network with their friends and followers. This means that they will only like content that also cultivate this personal brand. It might be that they enjoy a post from your business but are unwilling to like it because it does not fit into their personal brand or aesthetic.

Most individuals do not like what they sense as pure advertisements. These are posts that offer nothing to the user, except trying to get them to purchase something. Developing a brand on social media means making your brand personal and social. Even if you are showing off your products, have them offer something to other users.

How to use this:

  • In this case you are aligning yourself with an aesthetic choice. It is useful to know the trends of your demographic, and to be aware of posts by the other brands that are marketing to them.
  • Unless it’s the basis of your brand, off-color content might alienate your followers and make users less likely to be seen following you.
  • Users don’t want to be seen liking the exact same kinds of posts over and over again. Switch up your format, wording, and products.
  • Don’t use pure advertisements in your post. Engage with your followers. Ask a question. Offer a solution to a common problem. Teach a skill related to your trade.
  • You should similarly be aware that the things you like will reflect on your business.

4. Personal Interest

The personal interest user is following you and liking your posts, because they are genuinely interested in what your business is doing. They may be following you to get updates on your business, or because they really do enjoy your posts. Maybe you are a source of inspiration for their own posts.

These users do like flashy professional photos, but they also want to see the personal and human element of your business. They want you to respond to their comments. They want to see that you have a coherent personal style, in addition to whatever services your business may offer.

In other words this is where it pays off to be a little personal on social media. No need to go overboard though, since the personal interest user tends to respect boundaries that you put up between work and life.

How to use this:

  • Use the story mode of social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram to show your followers an ephemeral, slice-of-life, behind the scenes shot.
  • A picture of your face allows users to feel like they know you better.
  • It’s trendy, and it adds a personal element for businesses to be transparent about their goals, development, and growth.

Remember that the world of social media moves quickly! This means that you need to move quickly too, so you can keep up on trends and continuously entertain your followers. But this quick pace is also a blessing. It allows you to try new things with your brand, without a lot of long term repercussions.

Rebecca Moses on Twitter
Rebecca Moses
Staff Writer: Rebecca Moses is a creative writer who can't keep from meddling in the real world. While living in Colorado, she developed a particular interest in small business production. She loves a writing challenge, dabbles in illustration, and reads to figure out how all things work and grow. Find her at RebeccaMosesWriting.com

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Staff Writer: Rebecca Moses is a creative writer who can't keep from meddling in the real world. While living in Colorado, she developed a particular interest in small business production. She loves a writing challenge, dabbles in illustration, and reads to figure out how all things work and grow. Find her at RebeccaMosesWriting.com

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