by Mary C Long
“Engagement” has come to mean lots of things for businesses online. Unfortunately, too many are focused on likes – ANY likes – and you’ll see post after post from folks peddling a “like for a like” as a result. I greatly dislike this practice, and you should too. I will share a story demonstrating why:
Once upon a time, there was a business owner/entrepreneur/musician (choose one that resonates) who discovered a magical place where the people of many lands regularly visited and collectively rejoiced over clever kittens, creepy Craigslist stories and the latest wedding proposal dance videos. And this business owner realized, with the bar set so ridiculously low, she could easily attract an audience for her business/idea/song – and likely with little effort to boot!
But the harsh reality of “online” was quickly apparent and despair nearly consumed her, until one day a blogger of much esteem and regard in this land of fickle interests shared a secret to social media success – and for only $99! He said, “a like for a like” was a strategy successful superstars (such as himself) secretly employed – and directed her to sites where such reciprocal likes could be quickly obtained.
She quickly set off and for days and days she experienced great joy as her likes soared. She didn’t mind investing the time to like the pages and posts and what have you in return, for it was a small time commitment, considering! And she could just unfollow the pages and blogs that didn’t interest her (as really none of them did) or filter emails to trash so she didn’t have to bother with them, what mattered were the . . . but wait – wouldn’t they do the same to her blogs, posts and emails? No, no, no – that wouldn’t matter so much. Those reciprocal likes she was spending so much time trading would encourage MORE likes . . . somehow. Wouldn’t they?
Alas, she learned they would not. For the reciprocal likes were not from her target audience (the folks who were interested in converting from ‘liking’ to buying), and even if these reciprocal folks shared every post that she had with their own networks, those networks were populated with meaningless reciprocal likes as well.
So the lump sum of her efforts (and her $99) was the equivalent of shouting her name in a large, dark room and having a number of people shout it back. And then sticking around to do her share of shouting (to be fair).
But all was not lost! Once she realized her folly, she moved on to discover how to create a digital strategy that attracted her target audience. And she slowly grew her rhinestone button business to become THE name in tacky wearables!
This story had a happy ending, but be warned: The mythology of the reciprocal like lives on to this day, with well-meaning folks wasting time better spent building a real audience on liking pages in return for these entirely meaningless (and, somewhat sinister when you stop and think about it) reciprocal likes. Share this with them and save them from this fantastically frustrating fate?
This post originally appeared on Examiner
IMAGE CREDIT: PRACTICALOWL