Don’t be surprised if you see the number of likes your Facebook page currently has decreasing sometime in the next few weeks. Facebook has announced that it will be removing any page likes associated with pages that have been deactivated, including those whose owners have died.
Social media has become so central to our lives, yet we’re still working through the best way to handle how real life events – such as death – impact digital spaces. A Facebook account doesn’t automatically disappear when its owner passes away; many accounts simply go dormant through inactivity. The likes associated with these dormant accounts will not be impacted by this change; only those accounts that have been deactivated by a friend or relative of the deceased will be impacted.
It’s difficult to predict how significant this change will be on your business: a lot depends on the age, health and lifestyle of your customer base, as well as how involved your (potentially) deceased customer’s family is in overseeing their digital presence. When Instagram went through a similar process recently, some users saw follower numbers decrease by as much as 15%.
However, it’s important to keep this in perspective. The number of likes on a Facebook page is not and has never been the most important indicator of your brand’s appeal. What matters far more is the level and quality of engagement you have with your followers, including how often they comment on and share your content. It is discouraging to see followers go down – and a sad part of life to understand why that has happened – but in this case, don’t let the number change impact your Facebook strategy.