What is the difference between Facebook ‘likes’ and ‘followers’?

What is the difference between Facebook ‘likes’ and ‘followers’?

Facebook can be an infuriating animal at the best of times. For business owners trying to gain some traction with their business pages, it’s even more annoying.

One of the many matters Facebook page owners find difficult to understand is the distinction between a ‘like’ and a ‘follow’. Is there really a difference at all, and why are the numbers different for the two?

The below image shows the ‘like’ and ‘follower’ numbers for a Facebook page we manage. Notice how the ‘likes’ are at 1,893 whereas the ‘follows’ are at 1,945.

So what does this mean? How many people will see your page’s content when you post it? Well, in truth, possibly very few will see it. Just a small fraction of the people who follow your page will ever see the content you post, because that’s how Facebook wants it.
Back in the old days, and I’m talking a few years ago now, it was incredibly easy to grow the number of people who ‘like’ a Facebook page (or ‘fans’ as they were called then). Every piece of content you shared seemed to generate huge interaction and your page’s fans would grow with every post.

Facebook didn’t like this as it wasn’t getting paid for them. No, it wanted a piece of the action. Now, if you want to grow a Facebook page quickly, you need to use the ‘boost’ button and pay for your content to reach new people. Even if those people translate into ‘likes’ or ‘follows’, it’s still not of much benefit to you.

First off, let’s explain the difference between the two. When someone presses the ‘Like’ button on your page, they become one of the ‘likes’, and they also become a ‘follower’. By default people are both ‘likes’ and ‘followers’. However, a person can if they so wish choose to unfollow your page, while still showing as an active ‘like’. Equally, someone can ‘follow’ your page without actually ‘liking’ it.

Is there a difference?

Yes, if someone ‘likes’ your page without following it they won’t see the content you post in their Facebook feed. Ever. Not unless someone else they know shares it, or you pay for expanded reach through a post boost, or some other form of ad.

If someone ‘follows’ your page, with or without ‘liking’ it, then they may see your content appear in the Facebook feed. Whether or not they do depends on Facebook’s increasingly mysterious algorithm that seems to only be concerned with making Facebook page owners dip into their pockets to pay to boost posts.

So is there any point in using Facebook pages at all?

Yes, there is. The more interaction your pages get, the more they’re likely to appear in other people’s feeds. You can ensure your posts get interaction by making them visual, appealing and engage-worthy. Of course, if nobody sees them, nobody will be able to engage with them, so you want your followers, not your likes, to make sure they see your content. You can do this by letting them know how to change their follower settings.

On your Facebook page, when someone ‘follows’ you, there is an arrow on the following button. You can do this from a desktop or from the mobile app. We’ll show a screenshot from the desktop version.

In the settings, they will see the option for ‘Unfollow this page. (they don’t want to press that!). They will see the options for ‘See First’, ‘Default’ and ‘Unfollow’. By default, the ‘Default’ option is ticked (that kind of makes sense) which lets Facebook decide whether or not they see your content. Usually, that means they won’t. You want your followers to choose ‘See first’. That means that whenever you post something new on your Facebook page, they will see it in their Facebook feeds.

We recommend you regularly tell your followers about this option. It’s not salesy or pushy, you’re just giving them the option of deciding what they see in their Facebook feeds, rather than letting Facebook decide. Many people will be happy to make this choice for themselves.

So that explains the difference between ‘likes’ and ‘follows’, and how it’s really just a way of Facebook controlling who sees your content so it can get more money out of you if you want to grow your business online. Are you surprised? Didn’t think so!

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 20 years’ experience in these fields.

Get in touch

    Please confirm we can contact you


    Book a consultation with Engage Web