What do your Facebook Likes say about you?!

Last weekend we engaged with an entrepreneur who has built numerous apps which have generated in excess of US$ 250 million in revenues. He talked about an interesting experiment he did. He created a script that would automatically “Like” every single photo or update that any of his friends or followers added on Facebook or Instagram. It had some incredible results. Almost immediately he started getting a lot of love back from all his friends and followers. Not only that he added on a lot of additional followers who must have noticed his likes for others posts. Further, people that did not even know him, or knew him very vaguely started generating business leads and opportunities which he quantified at one time as almost half a million in marketing spend.

Some academic work done on Facebook and user behaviour on facebook sheds some light on the outcomes of this experiment. Most users use Facebook for bridging social capital which are “weak ties” ie loose connections between individuals. Experts say that Likes are powerful in making people with self-esteem issues feel better. According to a subject in a study: “When I post something I keep checking in to see how people are reacting. If I get my usual 5 to 10 comments I feel okay, but when I get 30 or more ‘likes’ I feel super-good.” Liking shows that we are paying attention and actually care at some level about things that people in our network are sharing. This allows us to be recognized as a participant within our networks—regardless of the degree of connectivity we share with others. Over time, our Likes reveal a noticeable pattern to other members of our network that generates a degree of authenticity.

To this end, Liking has grown into a valuable social currency; not only is it important to Like, but it’s also important to be Likable. Being Likable means friends, fans and followers pay attention when one posts and that what one posts matters. Being Likable reinforces our sense of importance and makes it a goal worth striving for. The social experiment done by the entrepreneur we mentioned in the starting paragraph shows the reciprocal love that can be consistently expected when we like posts.

We stumbled on another interesting study out of the University of Cambridge which claims that details such as a person’s sexual orientation, political leanings, religion, intelligence, emotional stability and even if they abuse drugs or alcohol can be predicted just by analyzing their Facebook likes. Researchers looked at the Facebook profiles and likes, along with surveys and personality tests, for 58,466 individuals. Using that data, they developed a model that predicts personal attributes from Facebook likes with impressive accuracy. It has the best luck categorizing people as Caucasian or African-American (95% accuracy), followed by gender, male sexuality, Democratic or Republican leanings, and detecting Christians and Muslims. We have noticed a lot of startups chasing the sheer number of likes in the hope that they will convert them into users, but in reality such a scattershot approach doesn’t work very well. In our book we talk about methods we have used with our startups to help them identify, reach and build a more authentic community based on social actions of existing desirable users.

The researchers from Cambridge have opened up the tool to everyone so they can get a peek at their own personal results. Please visit YouAreWhatYouLike.com and log in with their Facebook profile to know your results.

So, what do your Facebook Likes say about you?

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