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Those Social Media Likes Don’t Matter Much – If at All

Updated: Jan 17, 2020

Did you know that likes on social media don’t count for much when you’re posting links to your work?

That’s apparently true of LinkedIn. It’s true of Facebook. And it’s true of Twitter.

It’s also true if you’re:

  • An author posting snippets of your stories or blog posts about your story-writing journey

  • A business blogger blogging about your business

  • Some other kind of writer posting some other kind of writing.

I know that sounds contradictory. I know it might even be mind-blowing. You might be shocked out of your business-promoting mind at the very notion.

How in the world can social media likes not matter? Don’t they proclaim your promotional effectiveness?

If that’s your reaction, you’re not alone. But “like” it or not, we authors, bloggers, and other writers have been hoodwinked.

Here’s how and why…

Anyone who’s used social media for any reason knows the rush associated with getting a like or a love. It’s such a “thing” that they’ve done whole studies on the sensations we get from that kind of obvious acknowledgment of our existence.

New York University Professor Adam Alter published the results of one of those studies in his book Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked. Here’s what he said about it, as posted on Business Insider:

The minute you take a drug, drink alcohol, smoke a cigarette – if those are your poison – [or] when you get a like on social media: All of those experiences produce dopamine, which is a chemical that’s associated with pleasure.
When someone likes an Instagram post or any content that you share, it’s a little bit like taking a drug. As far as your brain is concerned, it’s a very similar experience.

Also similar to taking a drug, those likes and loves make us think we’ve achieved something worthwhile. However, the truth is a little more complicated than that.

I’m not trying to say that getting likes on social media is a bad thing. Only that it’s not an automatic good thing.

Likes don’t mean anyone actually accessed your link to read what you wrote. They might have just liked the picture or the title, or wanted to make you think they were paying attention.

Haven’t we all done that before?

That’s why we want to focus on a different social media metric – no matter if it feels a little less good in the immediate moment. This is something I just learned, and a further search on the subject resulted in a lot of corroborating opinions that, yes…

You really do want to celebrate clicks, not likes.

Clicks might be less visible to everyone else. And you might have to press a few extra buttons to find data about them. But they’re still what show true engagement – as in who really found what you posted worthwhile.

Look at it this way: You could do everything you could to scrounge up 1,000 likes for your social media post. Realistically, only 100 of them will actually care about the content you put out. Out of the 100, only 10 or so will actually engage with you. There’s now 990 other people just floating out there, not really doing anything to help your brand.
Therefore, getting more likes does not necessarily translate to making more money.

And since, I’m assuming, you’re writing what you write to make more money, you’re better off forgetting the likes. They’re a short-term reward.

You’re worth more than that anyway, aren’t you? Don’t let some drug tell you otherwise.

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