Likes vs. Followers, what's more important?

Facebook Likes vs. Followers, What’s More Important?

Remember how I’m always telling you to use customer questions as a blog topic? Just yesterday a follower sent me this question “On Facebook, Like vs. Followers, what’s more important?” My response was long enough for a blog post, so why waste it! Thanks to Alex for sending me this question.

What’s the Difference Between Likes and Follows?

Before we can discuss which number is more important, you need to understand Likes vs. Followers.
  • A Like is a person who has chosen to attach their name to your Page as a fan.
  • A follower is a person who has chosen to receive the updates that you post in their news feed (subject to the Facebook algorithm of course).
The two are independent. A liker/fan can choose to unfollow, i.e. Your mom could like your Page just because it’s your Page, but choose to unfollow because she doesn’t really care about what you’re posting. Similarly, someone could choose to follow the page and get the posts because they want the content, but for whatever reason they do not want their name associated publicly with the Page.
The default when one Likes a new Page includes following. It is a choice to unfollow and/or follow without Liking.
screenshot likes vs followers button
As well, there are levels to the following: See first, default and notifications. See first puts anything that Page posts on top of your newsfeed. Default is “normal”. And then in the notifications, one could actually choose to get a notification every time the Page posts.

Likes vs. Followers, Which is More Important?

Neither really. What is important when looking at Likes vs. Followers is twofold:
  1. The numbers increase over time, not decrease;
  2. The gap between Likes and Followers does not increase over time.

In general, you want your fan base to grow over time and you want those people to continue to follow you. If the gap between the numbers is growing, you’re losing people and that’s not good in any scenario.

I guess if I had to choose, I’d say followers are more important because they at least have the potential to see your content, where as those who have chosen to unfollow have decidedly chosen NOT to.

So, What Is Important?

The most important is engagement. The rate at which your audience is engaging with your content. It doesn’t matter if you have 100,000 Likes or Followers if they aren’t actually reading, engaging with and remembering your content.
Engagement Rate = Reach/Number of Engagements
(or, the number of people who saw the post divided by the number of actions taken on the post.)
_____________________________________
Agree? Disagree? What is the most important number for you to know when looking at your Facebook metrics? Let me know in the comments.

Comments (36)

  • Darryl Reply

    Thank you, your definition on likes vs followers FINILY makes some sense, I think . Can you expand on “engagement”?

    August 23, 2018 at 11:01 am
    • Anita Kirkbride
      Anita Kirkbride Reply

      Hi Darryl,

      Happy to have helped out! Engagement refers to the activity of your followers on the page (or anyone who sees a post, really). If they like the post, or comment, or share, that’s “engagement”. If you put out content that gets a lot of that activity your content is “engaging”. When tracking measurement you want to see the numbers improving, not declining…although picking a specific number isn’t necessary. You’re not aiming for, say, 10% engagement rate, but rather to have an engagement rate that is continually improving. Hope that helps!

      August 23, 2018 at 3:53 pm
      • Chaden Reply

        Hello Anita,

        You said the engagement rate is the most important KPI, but how I want to calculate the over all engagement rate on my Facebook Page?

        I should calculate the rate for each post individually and then the average of all?

        March 6, 2020 at 3:11 pm
        • Anita Kirkbride
          Anita Kirkbride Reply

          To calculate your overall page engagement rate, you would simply need the number of actions taken by your fans (likes, clicks, shares) divided by the number of fans you have on the page. You’ll have to decide two things: will you use fans or followers, and for what time period will you make the calculation. Hope that helps!

          March 7, 2020 at 10:15 am
  • Joel Reply

    So, if you look at a Facebook Page and see that 643 people like the Page, and 639 people follow the Page, it doesn’t mean the Page has 1,282 total people interested in the Page, correct? If you’re telling someone how many “followers” you have, you would just use the higher of the two numbers, 643. Is that right?

    September 27, 2018 at 9:40 pm
    • Anita Kirkbride
      Anita Kirkbride Reply

      You got it! You could use either number really, depending on what you’re trying to prove, but definitely one or the other, don’t add them together. Thanks for reading and asking a question!

      September 27, 2018 at 9:47 pm
  • Fiona Reply

    Thanks for your post. So, it confirms what I believe. No matter how many likers and followers there are, they need to be actively engaging with me. A reach of 250 and an engagement of 52 as a percentages is 20% which is 1 in 5. I should be really with that, right?
    What about those social media experts who say that we should take the total number of followers and then look for 1% of those engaging as a minimum to be on track? How much truth is there to that? Anything above that would be good.
    My feeling is that there are still many skeletons in my following from many years and lots are just to lazy to sign off, so it artificially boosts my numbers. I’ve sort of given up on paying attention to total numbers although Facebook sees it a sign that people love your page. To me engagement is all. Any feedback welcome. Thanks.

    October 26, 2018 at 5:55 pm
    • Anita Kirkbride
      Anita Kirkbride Reply

      Yes, I’d say you should be happy with that if it’s happening on a regular basis! I’m not personally big on specific percentages…it’s so dependent on industry and niche and the content. I prefer to simply look for my numbers to be going in the right direction. If they’re consistently getting better then I must be doing something right. If they’re getting worse, then something is off. I think that’s more important than trying to reach a specific percentage that someone, somewhere thinks is good. Thanks for stopping by to read and engage!

      October 28, 2018 at 3:41 pm
  • Gary Holden Reply

    I disagree with your thought about “The gap between Likes and Followers does not increase over time”. In some cases such as ours, the gap does increase due to the fact that we have people that want to see our content and not have other people they communicate with on FB to know. Any “Like” is public knowledge but a follow is not known to the public on FB. So for those unique businesses such as ours, you will see the gap grow over time.

    November 7, 2018 at 4:52 pm
    • Anita Kirkbride
      Anita Kirkbride Reply

      Yes, there are always exceptions to the rule. I can think of many topics that people may want to follow quietly or unseen. However, it is untrue to say “any like is public knowledge”. It is possible, and actually highly recommended, you make your Likes lists private. This prevents you being “outed” for liking a page. So while most likes are public knowledge, there are ways to prevent that. Thanks for stopping in to read and comment.

      November 8, 2018 at 9:10 am
  • Eric Caudle Reply

    Your competition will often follow you and not like. Same goes for your own executives, managers, etc. For the accounts I manage, the number of followers that don’t like remain relatively small, but there are always some.

    December 18, 2018 at 1:32 pm
    • Anita Kirkbride
      Anita Kirkbride Reply

      Yes, there are lots of reasons why people would Follow and not Like. I would hope your Executives and Managers would Like your Page, though! Thanks for stopping by to comment!

      December 19, 2018 at 8:19 am
  • maximized Reply

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    І’m looking to start my own blog in the neаr future but I’m having
    a tօuցh time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Ꭰruρal.
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    I’m looking for something unique. P.S My apologies for being off-topic
    but I hаd tο ask!

    December 19, 2018 at 5:28 am
    • Anita Kirkbride
      Anita Kirkbride Reply

      This is a custom-built site on WordPress.org. The trick to making WordPress not look like everything out there is to work with a good designer 🙂 Thanks for stopping in!

      December 19, 2018 at 8:21 am
    • Heather McCoy Reply

      Hi, maybe you can help. Facebook removed the like button from my business page so people can only follow. I have asked facebook, but there has been no reply.

      May 3, 2020 at 3:15 am
      • Anita Kirkbride
        Anita Kirkbride Reply

        Hi Heather, are you 100% sure that’s not just YOUR view of your page?

        May 4, 2020 at 10:07 am
        • Heather McCoy Reply

          No, I was at a Facebook for business seminar and the trainer saw it wasn’t there and sent a message to fb herself. No response from fb. I now have over 200 more followers than likers.

          May 4, 2020 at 6:18 pm
          • Anita Kirkbride
            Anita Kirkbride

            I did a bit of research and it appears your page is part of a test they are doing to see if a “follow” button is better than a “like” button.

            May 5, 2020 at 9:44 am
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  • Tatianna Reply

    Hi, Thank you!!

    I have a question that really confusing me.
    I do have almost 20k followers on my Facebook page, but I have very limited likes on my posts. Usually less then 10.
    I don’t understand where is the problem. Why my posts not reaching to all my followers?
    Thank you!!

    September 2, 2019 at 2:59 pm
    • Anita Kirkbride
      Anita Kirkbride Reply

      Hi Tatianna, There are a few reasons for this… the big one being that Facebook simply doesn’t show your content to everyone, even if they’ve chosen to follow your page. On a Page where your likes were acquired legitimately (not bought), you can expect about 1-4 % of your fans to see a post. On 20K fans that would be 200-500 people seeing a post. And then the percentage of those who see it that will click like or leave a comment is even smaller. If you bought your fans these numbers would be even smaller as the accounts won’t be real and won’t engage. The longer you go with less engagement, the less engagement you will receive and the fewer people will see your content, and it becomes a never-ending downward spiral. The only solutions are to create really engaging content and/or to pay to advertise your best content to get more engagement.

      September 3, 2019 at 9:55 am
  • Asia's Records Book Reply

    Hi! Thank You for your nice reply. Rather I checked with many but didn’t receive such a to the point reply. Great!

    October 7, 2019 at 5:35 am
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    December 26, 2019 at 1:33 pm
  • Monu Reply

    Wow, This is greate for followers

    April 1, 2020 at 8:55 am
  • Pat Reply

    Thank you for sharing this.
    I have one very confusing question, the page shows I have 400 likes, and 420 followers, but when I enter the [setting page]-[people and other pages]. I got a list of people who likes my page with 400 people, but if I check people who follow my page, just 20 people, but why my page shows I have 420 followers, why the list only has 20 people. This is really confusing.

    April 2, 2020 at 11:27 pm
    • Anita Kirkbride
      Anita Kirkbride Reply

      Hi Pat, Basically the 20 is part of the 420. You have 20 people who are following ONLY and have not Liked the Page. They want to get updates but don’t want to be used for advertising, or don’t wan your page listed on their profile. In insights it just splits them out differently. Hope that makes sense?

      April 3, 2020 at 3:10 pm
  • Nicole Roe Reply

    This blog has been REALLY helpful. THANKS!

    Is it possible to determine who is only following and who is only liking?
    Or alternatively who is doing both.

    We have a group attached to our page and I’m trying to figure out the difference between the number of group members, and the number of followers/likes on our page. To check that the balance of group members doesn’t outweigh the number of Followers/Likes to our page.

    OR, do I assume that as our group has 1038 members, and our page has 719 Followers and 669 likes, that our group has more people interested in it?

    April 6, 2020 at 9:24 pm
    • Anita Kirkbride
      Anita Kirkbride Reply

      Hi Nicole, glad you found it helpful. It is not easy to determine who is following vs. liking. If you go to your Page Settings, and look under the People and Other Pages section you will be able to get a list of followers, or a list of likers, but you can’t download them to compare. So, the information is kind of there, but not in any useful way unless you want to write them all down and compare the two lists.

      Group members can be totally separate from your page likes/follows. You could find that all 1038 members do not also like/follow your page. Some people like groups and some do not. I would be less concerned about ensuring all members like the page or vice versa and focus on providing good content on the page that attracts the right people, and further directing the right people to your group where you’re concentrating on creating great conversations.

      Thanks for the question, it was a good one and made me stop and think a bit 🙂

      April 7, 2020 at 11:04 am
  • Nicole Roe Reply

    Thank you!
    Could I please ask a couple more questions?
    I think above I read that it wasn’t correct to combine your likes and followers, but rather use one or the other to gauge your engagement is that correct?
    And with regards to the group we have, do I consider that as another audience and therefore when I post, I should be posting into both the group and the page?

    April 7, 2020 at 9:25 pm
    • Anita Kirkbride
      Anita Kirkbride Reply

      Of course! I’m happy to answer your questions!

      You are correct. You wouldn’t combine them because most of them would be the same people, so you’d be doubling your count, which is obviously incorrect. Yes, your group is another audience. Some of the content from your page might be appropriate there, but some may not. It depends on how you’ve set up the group and for what purpose. This post might help you. https://twirp.ca/2019/05/facebook-paradigm-shift-facebook-group-to-be-successful/

      April 8, 2020 at 11:20 am
  • Evonney Karman Reply

    Thank you for this post. It is the best explanation I have read in a while in seeking answers to questions about Facebook, including the help page for Facebook. The fog has dissipated except for one question: Is a Facebook Ad the only way to reach all my followers? There are 7K plus followers and the average reach at best is only 250 – 300 on some content. We are planning a big initiative in 2021 and would like to reach all our followers, just so they know what’s happening. Is this not possible?

    April 17, 2020 at 12:24 pm
    • Anita Kirkbride
      Anita Kirkbride Reply

      Hi Evonney, I’m so glad you found this helpful! There is no way to absolutely guarantee you reach all of your followers…not even with an ad. Ads directed to your followers will definitely help, but there are no full coverage options. I would start with ads and look into Facebook Messenger Ads, too!

      April 17, 2020 at 12:29 pm
  • Claire Reply

    Hi! Just a question about that engagement rate equation.

    In the blog post you had Reach divided by Number of actions on the post but in one of the comments you had said “To calculate your overall page engagement rate, you would simply need the number of actions taken by your fans (likes, clicks, shares) divided by the number of fans you have on the page”

    I’m a bit confused as per which is the numerator and which is the denominator here. Thanks!

    April 21, 2020 at 12:38 pm
    • Anita Kirkbride
      Anita Kirkbride Reply

      Oh my goodnes…yes, you’re right, I did say that backwards in the comment! Your Page Engagement rate would be the total reached (or fans available, depending on what metric you want) divided by actions. Thanks for pointing that out.

      April 21, 2020 at 12:49 pm
  • Jack Reply

    This means it is the following which is a practical gauge to see FB Page health! Thank you for this awesome post. It was quite helpful as I have begun FB ads.

    April 27, 2020 at 8:05 am

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