There's been a lot of talk recently about the New Yorker's "shockingly successful" Facebook "Like" experiment in the last week or so.
The experiment was meant to test audience engagement: how much will your audience go through to get to your content? Because let's face it everything online is low-investment. In an environment where your audience is just casually browsing for perhaps a few minutes at a time, even expecting them to stop long enough to click a link or a Like is asking a lot. It's why people are so skeptical of paywalls like those put up by the Times (which has an awesome ad campaign, by the way).
So the New Yorker put a story written by Jonathan Franzen about David Foster Wallace up on their Facebook fan page (which has about 220,000 fans). It gained about 17,000 "likes" while it was up. Impressive! Very!
Until you consider that's (and I'm rounding up here) 8% of their fans. And these were the big guns. The names are huge, appeal to their audience, and DFW's new novel just came out. This was the perfect storm for "likes."
We say that 10% engagement of one's audience indicates a successful online presence (measured by action taken--"like" clicked, retweets, comments left). And one of the most famous brands in the world got 8%. What does this mean?
I think it means, first and foremost, that 10% is not as attainable a figure as it might at first appear. It also means that any audience engagement is impressive.
Most importantly, it means that you have to be really specific in your goals. What do you want your audience to do? You have literally one shot: the vast majority of The New Yorker's fans would click "like" once (to become a fan) but not twice, no matter the prize.
So get specific about your goals. If it's just to make friends, that's totally OK! That's the building stage. Later, you can mobilize those fans who've grown to trust you for more specific goals.