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Time to ditch our most-loved metric?

Time to ditch our most-loved metric?
People involved.

Content marketers love getting likes. And hey, who doesn’t appreciate a bit of

Likes reflect active engagement with our branded videos, trumping passive
measures like views and impressions. When asked how they measure success,
63% of video marketers cite engagement metrics, which include likes, shares,
comments and others. In our experience likes are a firm favourite, often
brandished as the key success measure for video marketing campaigns.

But what do likes actually mean? What business value do they have? Today I
want to shine a spotlight on our beloved metric and invite some healthy
scepticism. Because while every measure has a place, I think we should be more

Why target likes when we can drive action?

What do they like?

Assuming our viewers are the right fit for our brand, what do their likes signify?
We can agree that likes are ‘positive’. A virtual thumbs up. A form of social
reciprocity. And besides reflecting the viewer’s experience, likes impact other
viewers too. By increasing reach and signalling value, likes make others more
likely to view, and in turn, like our content.

Yet taken alone, it can be hard to tell exactly what someone likes about a video.

It might be:

  • Overall experience – e.g. entertaining, enjoyable, informative etc.
  • Character or actors
  • Featured brand, products or services
  • Whether or not the video delivered on expectations (i.e. did it fulfil the
    promise of the title)
  • Something else entirely

Likes also vary by channel, which can complicate cross-platform comparisons.
For example, Instagram has likes, YouTube has both likes and dislikes, and
Facebook and LinkedIn provide an ever-increasing range of reactions. If you’ll
pardon the pun, we must remember to compare like-for-like.

Setting likes in context

Likes are just one metric of many, so a video with 1,000 likes isn’t inherently
‘better’ than a video with 100 likes. It all depends on context.

For example:

  • 1,000 likes + 100,000 views = lower satisfaction
  • 1,000 likes + 5,000 views = higher satisfaction

Add another datapoint and our understanding shifts again:

  • 500 likes + 100,000 views + 500 dislikes = mediocre content
  • 1,000 likes + 5,000 views + 1,000 dislikes = polarising content

When assessing performance I recommend combining quantitative data such as
likes, view count and view duration with qualitative insights from comments,
user profiles etc. It can also help to benchmark performance against similar
content within a brand’s existing channel, as well as third-party videos on similar
topics and formats.

However, to truly assess the effectiveness of video, we need to know why we
created the content in the first place.

Is our goal to be liked? Or should it be something else?

Our target metrics exert strong influence over creative development. If we set
out to drive likes, we naturally make very different content than if we set out to
drive comments, or something else.

Here’s a quick thought-experiment to make the point:

Imagine you’re tasked with creating a video that generates as many likes as
possible. Nothing is off the table. What do you do? Have a think then scroll down.

Kittens. Exactly!
(Or puppies. Or pornography. Let’s stick with the kittens.)

Simply put: what is not to like? It’s a well-known law of the internet that featuring
adorable/amusing animals in your videos generates likes*

But assuming you’re ultimately trying to sell flights, insurance or organic snack
food, this feline fandom is pretty meaningless.

So what else should we target? Let’s explore some alternatives.

*That’s not to say that some brands don’t employ our love of animals to great effect –
think Andrex puppies, Churchill’s dog, the Tetley tea chimps or Cadbury’s drum playing

Clarifying target actions

In my last post I advocated choosing a single-pointed message for each
video. The next step is to choose which target action(s) you want to drive.

The big question: After watching the video, what should they do?

Here are some ideas to get started, loosely grouped into stages of the buyer


  • Share it
  • Comment on it
  • Subscribe to your channel
  • Follow your social account
  • Like the video
  • Recall the name of a brand/product/hashtag
  • Mention it to a friend
  • Use a hashtag


  • Subscribe to an email list
  • Visit a website
  • Try a sample when offered it
  • Download a whitepaper
  • Watch a demo
  • Enter a competition
  • Learn more, via videos on X, Y or Z
  • Try a new recipe
  • Complete a quiz
  • Post a photo or video


  • Compare different products
  • Buy a product or service
  • Download an app
  • Register or install something
  • Chat to an advisor over webchat
  • Attend a virtual event
  • Recommend or share this video
  • Post an experience
  • Visit a store

Customer experience:

  • Start using it
  • Use more features
  • Use the product in a new context
  • Fix something without calling customer service
  • Write a product review
  • Offer advice to other customers
  • Buy it again
  • Buy it more often
  • Renew a plan or service
  • Upgrade
  • Recycle it

Exciting, isn’t it? When we think beyond likes and other classic video metrics, we
uncover an amazing variety of possibilities for how video can support our
marketing objectives. Some actions can be measured directly within our video
channels, while others require collaboration with other areas of the business.

The clearer we get, the more effective we become in driving meaningful actions
throughout the buyer journey – and beyond. Next time you make a video, I highly
recommend asking yourself:

After watching the video, what should they do?

And if you still think they should click ‘like’, that’s fine too. 😊

Make sure to check back in for more P4T content by following this link

Join me next time to explore why average video content won’t cut it.

Like what you see?

Get in touch.