Do we like what we like?
Our art director, Sarah, told me a telling tale of preference, pain and truth. One night, her and her boyfriend, Tyler*, were scrolling through their respective Instagrams, just like any other night. As he came across a 5 + 8 post, he paused, registered it, and kept scrolling. He did not double tap. He did not "like" it. Sarah, who was obviously snooping (she's super snoopy), rightfully called out this inexplicable indiscretion. I can only imagine that an uncomfortable convo commenced.
But it's not inexplicable at all. It's entirely explicable**. What makes it even more tantalizing is that he likely liked the next post from @cashcats. But, this is not a bad thing. This is a big win for anyone who cares about truth, social media metrics and the study of the human condition. People reserve their likes for things they actually like. I know I do. I don't like just anything. I actually take great pleasure in passing on that girl who tries really hard to get likes. The one who tries so hard to look like she's not trying at all. She's not getting my like. I could unfollow her but I keep following her just to not like her posts. Mature.
Did you know the like button is only ten years old? That doesn't sound right, but I read it on Wikipedia and that is where I do all of my fact-checking. It was created in 2009 after years of deliberation. It was originally conceived as an "awesome" button. Think how different it would be if you talked about how you just awesome'd a picture. The whole story is here and is moderately interesting. I skimmed it pretty good.
Now to argue with myself: likes are not really that important. They don't mean anything. They mean you made them smirk, or smile or half-chuckle. Which can be nice, but it's not going to change your business. What means something is another buzzword you've heard – engagement. Engagement literally means emotional involvement or commitment. Though it is measured by many tools and trackers, I think it's best measured in person.
When you really engage or touch your audience, it's most often seen offline. If I run into someone and they mention something I wrote weeks ago, that is engagement. The first time it happened, I felt like I was famous. It was an ego super booster, the likes of which took me hours to come down from. I spend a lot of time I don't have to write this stuff. And, I write this stuff to engage people and hopefully make them laugh or think or feel excited. So, yeah, it feels freaking awesome when I actually pull that off. When I have engaged (or become emotional involved) withs someone that is a bond. And, if someone bonds with you, they are 1000 times*** more likely to want to work for, with or alongside you. And, that's why engagement matters.
So what happened to the young lovers from the beginning of this blog? Well, I assume Tyler got an earful from a seriously displeased Sarah. But, now she knows he's no cheap like. No one should be a cheap like. We must save our likes and comments on the posts and content that truly engage us. However, we should also must be generous with our own platforms. If you have followed someone for years and received a tremendous amount of value or pleasure from their work, maybe it's time to press the most sacred button of them all, "Share." In the social media world nothing shows caring like sharing. It is the clearest way to show someone that you appreciate the work they do.
*The names have not been changed in order to not protect the guilty in this story.
**I thought I was being funny, but explicable is totally a word.
****Just a fact.
In the spirit of sharing what you care about, I care about Sarah and her work. I appreciate her talent and work ethic more than I can ever put into words. Here's (some of) her work. Thank you, Sarah. You're a star.