Recently I’ve been wondering how people use their “like” buttons. If you use social media at all you have them, and with them you wield power. So maybe it’s not great power, at least not by yourself, but it’s power all the same.
On Facebook, I notice that the like button is often used to simply acknowledge something someone has posted, and in that arena, I think that’s a perfectly acceptable way to use it, at least most of the time. You planted flowers? Great. Like. Your kid got a part in the play? Terrific. Like. That’s the dress you’re wearing to the party? Nice choice. Like. Grandpa Vito is in the hospital? That’s a shame. Like. Wait, what?
I think we should use our Facebook likes for things that we actually do like, or feel good about. Maybe it’s a puppy picture or a funny story about you and Aunt Vi on vacation in Bransonville. Why do people go to Bransonville? But the more challenging stuff in life? In my opinion a supportive comment in more appropriate. I know people don’t really “like” the bad stuff, but if you’re too lazy to type in a few words of encouragement, I think you should skip the interaction all together, until you have more time to put some thought into it.
That brings me to WordPress “likes.” I’ve noticed that I’ve been getting a few more of these lately, which I really do enjoy, but they sometimes leave me confused. I get a little notification on my phone that so and so has liked my post about blah blah blah.
“Oh goody!” I think to myself, “someone has actually read one of my posts!”
That thought makes me want to check to see how many views the blog has received, so I click on that little button on my phone, and it brings up the exact same number as it did an hour ago, when I last checked. And, yes, I know I have a problem. The only thing I can think of is that people are seeing my posts in their reader and then clicking the like button from there, without actually visiting the blog.
Why would you do that? I mean I’m flattered that after just a few words you already know that you like what I’ve written, but really, you ought to jump in and read the whole thing! I’m kidding of course about the love at first sight thing. The truth is, people are busy, but want to show their support of their fellow bloggers, so they click the like button. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it seems like a friendly gesture. The only issue I take with it, is that’s it’s a hollow one.
I like making bloggy friends. I like having them around in my reader and in my comments. They are awesome people, and I enjoy their blogs. But here’s the thing, when I read them, I actually go to the blog and read! Yes, the whole thing (if I like it). For some reason, sometimes a post doesn’t click with me. I don’t hit the like button automatically. I’m sorry, I just don’t. I don’t like everything I read, so I save my likes for the ones that I do.
I do try to comment on most posts that I read. Blogging is a conversation, at least to me. Granted it’s kind of one sided, but it’s a conversation all the same. For it to work, there has to be some give and take.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love the likes. In fact I’d love to see more of them. But what I really like to see are readers engaging with the writing and contributing to the conversation. That makes me far happier than the quick click of a button.
April 29, 2015 at 4:46 am
My thoughts on the topic: people use content voting systems on the Internet according to their own rules and our preferences as bloggers don’t much factor in the decisions to Like, Comment or Follow.
There’s a ton of “expert” info out there that will pretend to tell you how to increase engagement on your blog. I’ve been blogging for a while (as have you), and I’ve come to the conclusion that the advice is mostly hooey.
I’ve found it helpful to examine my own reasons for Liking/Commenting on a blog post as well as my own motivations for blogging.
My own opinion is that traffic/page views is probably much more indicative of the “success” of your blog than Likes, Comments, # of Followers. A page view doesn’t guarantee that anyone read your post, but it captures that whole swath of people who either don’t have a WordPress account or feel comfortable mouthing off on the Internet.
April 29, 2015 at 6:10 am
I tend to agree with you, that’s why I really get excited when those page views creep steadily higher. It encourages me to keep writing, thinking that people may have read my thoughts.
Of course a thoughtfully written response, such as yours, confirms that I’m not just talking to myself, which I do appreciate from time to time!
April 29, 2015 at 5:05 am
I’m with you on this. I have a hard time “liking” things I haven’t read through just because my “like” is also a reflection on me and my preferences. I read a blog post once that talked about re-tweeting other bloggers content as a show of support whether or not you’ve actually read it. If I couldn’t read a post at the moment but want to show support, I used to mail the link to myself to read when I had more time. That came back to bite me in the hindquarters once when I sat down to read a post I’d shared. It was chock full of vile language and points of view I didn’t embrace even a little bit. Needless to say that was the end of that. I was embarrassed and couldn’t do a thing about it. Not sure anyone else even read the post but if they did, and they did so because I recommended it, I’m sorry. Rest assured that if I like your post, I’ve read it. If I share it, I really liked it a lot. And you’re right – how silly to “like” that someone is missing someone they loved who has passed. Really?
April 29, 2015 at 6:12 am
Thanks for confirming that I’m not the only one who feels this way. I know “likes” are free, but I still want to mean them when I use them, just as I don’t throw around compliments without meaning them. I suppose that comes from my own sense of integrity, whether misguided or not. Thanks for chiming in, and of course for reading!
April 29, 2015 at 5:47 am
I tend to like things that are interesting to read. I’m not inclined to ‘like’ posts that have a youtube song or a graphic with no accompanying verbage. There are times that I ‘like’ a post, but don’t have much to add to it, so I don’t comment on it.
April 29, 2015 at 6:14 am
I agree with you. Sometimes I’m amused by something or it strikes a chord, but the author has said everything that needs to be said, or 47 other people have already commented. In that case I “like” and move on! Thanks for the comment.
April 29, 2015 at 2:23 pm
To me it kind of feels like a cop out. Rather than respond personally to something we’re just liking it. Kind of Orwellian Newspeakish.
Thanks for sharing! If you’re ever interested in some similar musings and awesome book reviews, be sure to follow! Thanks!
April 29, 2015 at 2:55 pm
I hadn’t thought of it in quite that way, but now that you mention it, maybe there should be a double plus good button. Thanks for the read and the comment. I will check out your blog soon.
April 29, 2015 at 5:24 pm
I’m a liker! Funny, I have a post in the works about this very topic which I do find interesting. I haven’t sorted it all out for myself yet but in general I enjoy freely giving and receiving them.
April 29, 2015 at 5:35 pm
But the real question is, do you READ what you “like?” 🙂
April 29, 2015 at 5:42 pm
Not everything. For example, I have a friend who only sends out photos. He sends out a lot so I like my faves. I read all the poetry, because it is short. The longer a post gets, I may scan. My intention is always to be truthful. When I like, there is something there that I like 🙂
April 29, 2015 at 5:55 pm
That makes perfect sense.
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May 11, 2015 at 6:32 pm
I agree with you! If I see something I think might be interesting, but don’t have time to actually read it, I’ll label to do later before I hit Like or comment. This is a perfect case in point! It took me 12 days, but I have finally read through this post and do, in fact, like and support it. I miss posts sometimes this way, but I’d rather have a more meaningful interaction than speed through “liking” countless posts I could never truly engage in.
May 11, 2015 at 9:03 pm
I hadn’t considered that people use it in that way, thanks for teaching me something new.