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Why Likes Don’t Matter

Likes sign

Why Social Media “Likes” Don’t Always Mean Success

Although the dawn of social media brought the importance of “likes” with it, updates and algorithm changes have made the metric less useful when measuring success.

Social media platforms have changed their algorithms so that it is harder for businesses to be seen organically. And even though these platforms still have an incredibly high ROI, these changes have shifted the way they are used by marketers. Businesses and brands have had to change the metrics they look at and engage in paid promotions to have their content seen.


Facebook launched their newsfeed algorithm change that shifted the way businesses and marketers look at social media. Mark Zuckerberg announced that they were prioritizing content from friends over content from brands, businesses, and media. This was the first algorithm changed that sparked a lot of controversy and discussion.

In 2017, it was revealed that “reactions” held more weight than standard “likes,” then in 2018 “meaningful interactions” took center stage, with posts with comments receiving prioritization. Facebook is constantly rolling out new updates to the algorithm to help users find relevant and engaging content- making it more difficult for marketers to keep up! Knowing these changes is the first step to understanding how to dominate the algorithm.


Owned by Facebook, Instagram followed suit with their algorithm change that removed the reverse chronological order around 2016. They began showing users what they thought they wanted to see based on the relationship with the poster and the timeliness of the post. Due to the overall negative feedback from users, Instagram made a tweak to show newer content first, but you still won’t see every post from those you are following.


Although there has been less news around LinkedIn’s algorithm, they too prioritize relevancy to you over recent posts. But a feature that LinkedIn does offer is the ability to toggle between top posts and recent posts, allowing users to control whether they see relevant or recent content. Top posts are determined by personal connections, interest relevance, and engagement probability.


Twitter removed their reverse chronological order and replaced it with an algorithm that prioritized content that they predicted users would find interesting. But, like LinkedIn, Twitter has implemented a feature that allows users to toggle between the algorithmic feed and a real-time chronological feed.

Key Metrics You Should Track

You may be thinking at this point, how do I get my business’ content seen if social media platforms have changed their algorithms? This is the challenge that all marketers are facing because social media used to be a relatively cheap medium with a high ROI and easy to measure success through likes and follows.

So how do you continue to prove a high ROI if likes don’t matter? Utilize these 5 key data points to determine how your social media pages are performing.


  • This reflects the number of times your content was seen, regardless if it was the same user
  • If a user sees content in their newsfeed and then sees it when their friend shares it, that counts as two impressions


  • This is the number of unique users who have seen your content
  • If a user sees content in their newsfeed and then sees it when their friend shares it, that counts as one reach

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

  • This tells you the percentage of users who saw your content and clicked on it
  • You can determine this number by dividing the number of impressions by the number of clicks, although most platforms calculate this number for you
  • When utilizing this number, be sure to look at industry averages for the social platform you are viewing, as a good CTR is different across industries and sites based on the demographics that use it

Cost Per Click (CPC)

  • This metric allows you to see how much one click cost
  • Social media CPC used to be significantly lower than it is now, but it is critical to spend money on your social media channels as this is the only guaranteed way your target market will see your content
  • Look at averages for your industry, the platform you are using, and the other metrics we’ve discussed to determine if the CPC is worth it for your business; this will help you learn which platforms are most important for you to spend time and money on

Engagement Rate

  • Engagements give you insight on what content resonates with people, so you can begin to replicate it for higher success on the platforms you share on
  • And yes, we said that likes don’t matter, and this is in part measuring likes, but it encompasses all engagement (shares, reactions, comments) so you can create better content for your audience.

So now that you know which metrics can help you determine the ROI of social media for your business, go forth and conquer your social media platforms of choice.

Thanks for stopping by,

Editor’s note: This blog was originally published in November 2019 and has been edited and updated in January 2022.

Shannon Briden

Account Manager
Shannon brings her MBA education and design background to find creative, innovative solutions to everyday marketing problems.

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