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Why I Liked 4000 Facebook Pages: An Experiment in Gaming the News Feed

Posted 18 September, 2013

How many Facebook pages have you Liked?

According to Social Bakers, the average person has Liked 40 pages:

Why_I_Liked_4000_Facebook_Pages-_An_Experiment_in_Gaming_the_News_Feed-lsnumber of Facebook Page Likes

But as you can see, this number had grown 10x in the past 4 years.

I wanted to test it so I went to the Timelines of 10 of my friends in the "Facebook Marketing" niche -- to see how many pages they've Liked.

This is what I found (with links to their profiles so you can Follow them):

Average = 890

So it seems like people in the Facebook & Social Media Marketing niche tend to Like more pages than the average user.

To make a comparison (and further test if 40 Likes per person is the average), I looked at the Timelines of some of my "normal" friends -- people who don't live & breath Facebook!

Here's what I found (I left out the links & last names for their protection):

  • Amber - 191
  • Trace - 17
  • Pat (my father-in-law) - 52
  • Adam - 227
  • Katy - 260
  • Kaleb - 19
  • John - 588
  • Belinda - 251
  • Randy - 14
  • Amanda - 83

Average = 170

As you can see, this number is significantly lower than those of us who make our living on Facebook.

Just to add a little context, Trace (who I grew up with, is my age & lives in Houston) has only Liked 17 pages -- while Randy is 52, lives in my small town & has only Liked 14 pages.

So basically, Like numbers seem to be pretty random.

Why am I telling you this?

I wanted to prove that most people on Facebook don't like a ton of pages.

My 10 friends who work in the Facebook Marketing space have Liked an average of 890 pages -- while my local friends average 170 pages

Sure, these numbers are above the 40 page average claimed by Social Bakers -- but they still seem low to me.

How Many Pages I Have Liked

About a year ago, I set out to Like as many pages as possible -- for reasons we'll discuss later.

Basically any time a "Like" button showed up on my News Feed, I Liked the page -- or anytime a friend shared a page, I Liked it.

Currently I'm just over 4,000 pages Liked!

You can see this by going to the Liked link from my Timeline.

In short, I've Liked 100x more pages than the average person -- according to Social Bakers!

Why Have I Liked So Many Pages?

To be honest, since opening my Facebook account, I've pretty much Liked every page I've seen.

blue thumbI'm an inquisitive person (some might call it "nosey") -- I love to see updates from different pages & try to keep up with what's going on in the world.

In the beginning (when I first started using Facebook) this was easier.

3-4 years ago the News Feed algorithm didn't seem as strict about limiting stories. It was more like we automatically just saw every post from every page & person we were connected to.

Great idea, right?

Well not really.

As Facebook has grown, so has the number of connections we have -- as seen above.

Basically, we're connected with more pages & people now, which causes us to miss more of their posts -- since they're all competing for space.

Facebook thus created an algorithm (Edgerank) to try to show us only the best stories. And it pretty much works -- albeit with lots of bitching & moaning from users.

After Edgerank came into effect, I rarely saw posts from pages I wasn't interacting with. Which meant my news feed mostly consisted of posts from about 50 people/pages.

And for a while I decided not to Like a page unless I had a reason to -- or wanted to see their content 100%.

This meant I might Like 1-2 pages per week & that's it.

Facebook Opens Subscribe (now Follow) Feature

When Facebook rolled out the ability for people to Subscribe to -- now called Follow -- profiles, it changed everything for me.

For one, I stopped friending people I didn't know or didn't have some sort of deeper connection to -- because there was no longer any good reason to friend people you don't know.

Almost immediately I began to get Followers -- and now when you include Interest Lists I'm on, I have over 24,000 Followers.

But even with that many people following me, most of them aren't seeing my posts -- because of the News Feed algorithm.

One day I happened to see Robert Scoble comment that he was Liking every page he could to see what it would do his News Feed. He probably set out to do this for his upcoming book called "The Age of Context".

As of today, Robert has Liked over 5300 pages!

Anyway, I started to do the same thing.

What I discovered was that when my Friends or Followers went to a page, my photo would often show up at the top of the page as someone who had Liked the page.

This type of info is great for the page because it gives "social proof" to would-be Likers.

But for me it keeps my face & profile top of mind -- because you'll hopefully see my face everywhere!

Sponsored Stories & other Facebook Ads

In addition to simply showing up on pages when someone goes to Like it (which now seems to show only to Friends, not Followers) my face/name can & does show up on many Sponsored Stories & Suggested Page ads on the News Feed.

suggested page sponsored story

Obviously I can't see ads with my name on them but you can see above how 2 of my friends have Liked this Fletcher Productions page -- and now I'm being asked to Like it in my News Feed.

This type of ad shows up when a page is targeting Friends of Friends who Like the page.

It can also be done based on similar Interests as well.

The Results

good and bad

>> Positives

Did Liking all of these pages cause more people to see me & my content -- and ultimately share more of my posts?

Unfortunately no.

I've had a few friends tell me they notice my face every time they go to Like a page -- which was part of my goal: the more you see me, the more you'll interact with me & my content.

But overall I'm not seeing many positive results from Liking so many pages.

>> Negatives

The major downside to Liking so many pages is that my News Feed is completely screwed up.

It's almost impossible to get a consistent amount of content from pages & people I really care about.

Sure those pages I am most active on show up more often, but my news feed is also filled with pages I couldn't give a rat's ass about.

So I either end up with no good content in my feed or a bunch of a content I don't interact with.

The News Feed algorithm should still make me see posts mainly from people & pages I engage with. But since I've Liked 4000+ pages, it seems to have screwed up that algorithm big time.

For example, as of now I don't even see posts from my own wife unless I happen to notice the notification I've turned on for her!!

Moving Forward

Now that I've played around with this for over a year, I'm tempted to un-Like every page I have no interest in seeing.

But the time & effort it would take to do this would be excruciating! It's simple to Like a page but takes a couple clicks to un-Like one.

Then again, I'm still waiting for the new version of the News Feed to see if it's new features could prevent me from having to unLike all those pages.

Supposedly in the new News Feed, you'll be able to see feeds just from Friends, Pages, Photos, Games, etc. -- like this:

new facebook news feed

If this is true, then the new News Feed will definitely be easier to segment.

Then again, you can accomplish the same thing currently by using Interest Lists -- although my bet is only a small percentage of people have taken the time to create Lists or even Follow Lists. Have you?

Even with the new News Feed, though, there will still be an algorithm determining the content you see -- making sure it's from those pages & people you interact with the most.

don't like facebook pagesDon't Do It!

I'm probably crazy for Liking this many pages & messing up my experience on Facebook -- but I'm a glutton for punishment!

And I would definitely NOT recommend anyone else doing it.

Instead, only Like pages you care about & that provide content you want to engage with.

This not only benefits you -- it benefits the pages you Like!

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