If you’ve existed for a while, and even have dared to use the internet, chances are you are familiar with narcissistic features like the heart for Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, and the several other emojis spawned from the original “Like” for Instagram and Facebook.
"The content that reaches social media users is the content that's most popular and paid-for...instead of the content each user chooses to receive.
We all-- businesses especially-- will go to great lengths for that extra Like or heart, but at some point, we have to ask ourselves “how much energy, time, or resources should I spend to acquire a thousand new Likes or hearts?” and ultimately, “is it worth it?”. The value of a “Like” has diluted over time just as the very nature of “Likes” have changed. It’s getting more and more challenging as these monetized social media apps are filtering the vast amount of content submitted (or “shared”) so that the most popular and paid-for content on social media platforms reaches their users instead of the content they choose to receive.
How Convertible is a Facebook “Like”?
Obtaining Likes and heart emojis as a business has its perks. When examining businesses with hundreds of thousands or millions of Likes, it can often signify a great level of trust from other consumers.
It drives business revenue in such a way that people are more likely to become paying customers for example of a tattoo parlor with 80,000 Likes versus one with 32,000 Likes because of the illusion of numbers and consumer confidence instead of on the actual quality or value of products and services.
Potential customers are more willing to Like something others have clearly Liked themselves-- it’s a classical case of bandwagoning that, justifiably or not, benefits the business, their exposure to new potential customers and their credibility over time.
Although you may not be able to directly cash in your “Likes”, they can be a decent metric for valuation by some.
Companies looking to gain funding from venture capitalists, get acquired, etc… have been increasingly relying on the number of “Likes” in order to demonstrate that they’re worth “something”, as a substitute for revenue.
In addition, Likes allow audiences to “speak” to businesses as well. Should someone Like the page of a tattoo parlor, they are communicating their impression and the fact that they can be influenced (to a certain extent) by that tattoo parlor. There are some limitations which will be addressed in a bit… but Likes have been a great way for businesses to build brand awareness and virtually connect with the people that support them.
Why We Overvalue Click-Rates and “Likes”
At the end of the day, people aren’t the only ones doling out click rates and Likes. Impression bidding and Web automation software that is engineered to access sites and simulate human browsing, pull information (AKA: “scrape”) and generate empty clicks and Likes.
But regardless of whether a Like (or click) is generated by a human or not; Likes do more for a business’ image than their revenue. In fact, buying Likes usually cost the business quite a bit of money and is often itemized as a cost of advertising. Remember, businesses run to make money, not to generate Likes.
And while Likes can nominally help facilitate that stream of revenue, they’re generally overvalued as the “definitive” tool to establish a strong flow of income for a business or nonprofit.
The “Like scheme” goes as far as Facebook (and others) offering guides, books and even seminars on how to garner more Likes for a steep price tag but a mere thumbs up does not reflect revenue or brand loyalty.
Likes are nice for a business, but a charity needs donations to further their cause and a tattoo parlor needs to sell tattoos and drawings to make their money-- Unfortunately, Likes simply don’t pay the rent.
“Likes are nice for a business, but a charity needs donations to further their cause and a tattoo parlor needs to sell tattoos”
Mentioned earlier was how Likes allow a business to “connect” with their audience. Well, this is not entirely true. Based on proprietary algorithms, sites like Facebook curate selected content to each individual user. Meaning: not every user who Liked that tattoo parlor at some earlier point in time will see all the posts from that tattoo parlor. Take a look at any business’ Facebook page and compare the number of “Followers” or “Likes” with the number of views or likes any one particular post garners.
"…sites like Facebook curate selected content to each individual user. Meaning: not every user who Liked that tattoo parlor at some earlier point in time will see all the posts from that tattoo parlor."
Businesses actually have to gain more Likes or reactions on their posts in order for Facebook’s algorithms to deliver more of their content out to the people who already Like them…and the formulas that comprise these filters for curation change periodically. This can be costly because businesses who need to reach more people, need to spend more money to obtain those Likes, even if they already received the Likes from their real supporters through previous content they shared. This is massively problematic for any organization struggling to get their messages into the hands of the people who not only want to receive them but believe they already are receiving them.
"Likes" also do not necessarily translate into loving something. People can fraudulently create Likes , buy Likes or people may even Like a business for reasons beyond actually liking their product or brand: their friend runs the company, they’re an employee, out of pity for an acquaintance, free business goodies (e.g. company branded mugs), etc…
These individuals may not feel strongly enough about the brand to buy their products or services regularly. They may not even care enough to “Share” the business’ postswithin their own circle of friends or refer others to them-- “word of mouth” is king when is comes to growth, and businesses without their loyalists spreading the word…let alone receiving it, will lead to their eventual demise.
A Nice Complement to Brand Building
Likes, admittedly, have some value but they don’t facilitate personal and direct connections between individuals and the organizations they really do like.
Although there’s little to no data that can definitively quantify the value of a Like or a “personal connection”, a small app production team in Sioux Falls, South Dakota is convinced that strengthening existing relationships is just as important as forming new ones.
“a small app production team in Sioux Falls, South Dakota is convinced that strengthening existing relationships is just as important as forming new ones.”
“We stripped down media and messaging to their simplest components and created Hawser personal media. What makes it more personal than social is the fact that our users get whatever they deem to be the most pertinent updates instead of the most popular or profitable ones on a network.” says CFO and partner Nathan Maas. Hawser delivers 100% of your updates to 100% of your connections 100% of the time.
At a recent BETA introduction Josh Sapienza, Founder and Managing Partnerof Hawser Inc., expounded on the value of social media and their interest in being the perfect complement to it: “We’re not trying to replace social media…we’re just providing a complement to it. In fact, Nathan and I are advocates for social media and the value social media brings to brands who use it…or hire PR firms to manage it for them in order to reach a segment of the market that might not otherwise ever even hear of them. We’re asking fellow business owners, nonprofit managers, artists and evolving brands to try Hawser personal media and consider adding it to their media toolbox.”
Using personalized dedicated inboxes instead of algorithm generated feeds, Hawser puts users in control of which content they see and when. Sapienza says they took this approach “…to put certified nonprofits on equal footing with deep-pocketed retailers and brands.” Their mission: 1.) To simplify the act of sharing and 2.) To weave social good into the daily lives of people who care.
I agree that one should not have to pay money in order to reach more of the people who already like them. By replacing a monetized feed with dedicated inboxes and personal connections, Hawser is leveling the playing field not only for nonprofits… but for anyone who is tired of fighting to get their messages into the hands of the people who want them. Now anyone can share the content that matters most with their biggest supporters without having to wonder how many of their followers are actually getting the message. Hawser seems to be less about “Likes”--and more about “Love” because let’s face it…if you understand how social media works, you’re only going to agree to get every single update from someone (or some organization) if you’re really into them and what they’re doing.
By offering a 100% impression rate for free, they’re fostering stronger and deeper connections between people and the things they love…which makes it a lot easier (and a lot less time intensive) for any organization to develop the relationships they already have in a very sustainable way.
The tattoo parlor that decides to join Hawser benefits greatly-- their supporters are ensured to receive every single “update” from sales and new designs to celebrities sporting their ink and recommended skin-care products.
Hawser also provides a two-way door to personal & direct communication. In other words, the personal gateway between users goes far beyond simply letting the organization know they’re “Liked”. It ensures that every single reply, to any message sent, is kept private.
Sapienza explains their decision to make all replies private: “This is not a platform for the recipients of posts to ‘broadcast’ their approval, disapproval or promote unrelated comments on the backs of those with a wider following or audience. Replies are sent only to the person or organization who sent the original message.”
The Heart of The Matter
How about that non-profit that needs help growing? Well, Hawser has them covered too. Nonprofits that choose to certify with Hawser have access to some additional functionality. Those nonprofits who are first vetted by independent third parties are granted “Hawser Certified Status” (being a verifiable 501(c)(3) is a prerequisite) are able to raise funds instantly via a “Donate” button or the “Express Give” feature with no minimums and with no need for their donors to even have a Hawser account.
This add-on service already rivals countless other “Text-To-Give-style” platforms with a few small but meaningful differences. 1) Its free. 2) Hawser not only assists with fundraising but they also help organizations establish deeper relationships with their supporters 3) The CRM aspect of Hawser is about as unsticky as it gets. Instead of re-targeting donors and amassing a big personal file on every user, Hawser simply asks donors for the same amount of information they’d provide at a gas pump in order to verify that the payment method they are using is actually theirs.
“The CRM aspect of Hawser is about as unsticky as it gets. Instead of re-targeting donors and amassing a big personal file on every user, Hawser simply asks donors for the same amount of information they’d provide at a gas pump in order to verify that the payment method they are using is actually theirs.”
Additionally, Hawser’s one touch volunteering feature allows individuals, who are interested in sharing their time with these organizations, to effortlessly add themselves to any Certified Nonprofit’s volunteer list. Those who are interested in volunteering are then notified about opportunities as they arise in their local area.
So then, what is the catch? Other than Hawser's need for you to help them on-board users, there isn’t one. The people at Hawser realize that every little bit of a donation helps a lot-- that’s why Hawser is irrigated by a revenue stream that flows from a new form of personalized marketing (one they’ve been tight-lipped about but insist it’s not at the expense of UX). “We want to be the kind of Public Benefit Company that NewCo Shift’s John Batelle celebrates and the likes of Kickstarter’s Perry Chen emulate. And in order to achieve responsible profitability, we’ve developed a new way to deliver personal yet unobtrusive ads and have integrated this ad delivery system into our platform from the very beginning…instead of interrupting the user experience later or taking a cut of the donations we help raise.” said Sapienza.
Without the annoyance of tactics like withholding donations for a certain amount of time or transferring funds once they reach a certain pre-set amount, Hawser is trying to stay out of the way as much as possible in order to help nonprofits and businesses alike realize more of their own potential by connecting them directly to people.
Hawser is wrapping up their BETA testing this fall and looking to transform the way organizations and their biggest fans interact. Looking to create value, Hawser aims to diversify the digital media economy into a more substantial ecosystem yielding measurable impacts naught with every new Like bought, but with every genuine personal connection made.
Written by: Kunal Kerai | ProSeed Corp. - UC Berkeley
Kunal Kerai is a freelance writer and a student at UC Berkeley double majoring in rhetoric and psychology. He has volunteered at an elephant and rhino orphanage in Kenya, was a nationally ranked video game player, and has taught a university accredited class: “Mean Girls”. Currently, he is the founder of a research based non-profit. Kunal enjoys writing about the intersection of people, business, and psychology. You can follow him on Twitter or send him any wonderful insights you may have to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Co-Author: Cheyenne Zephier
Cheyenne Zephier is a student at Augustana University, double majoring in Government/International Affairs and American Studies with a minor in Political Philosophy. President of Augustana's Committee of Undergraduate Political Scientists, Committee Chair of MLK Challenge Day, Confirmation Leader Secretary of Precinct #23, Volunteer for Marco Rubio campaign, Concierge Intern for Hawser. To further communicate with Cheyenne follow her on Twitter @Zephier14, or LinkedIn: Cheyenne Zephier.