Do Facebook “likes” impact business results?


Social media is tricky business. Just ask any Social Media Agency. And even though most businesses are quick to set up a Google+ or Facebook page, they aren’t always sure why they are doing this. The unspoken question is this: does social media do anything positive for my business or am I just trying to look cool?

Your Social Media Agency will be quick to assure you that a well-honed social media strategy has tremendous upsides. One, it’s cheap. No media to buy. No graphic designer to hire. Two, it is great for after market support. A customer has a question or issue, you’re on it with links, rebates and videos. Three, it raises brand awareness. The “like” button is a mechanism for tremendous word-of-mouth. And did we mention, it is cheap?

But the value of social media for business results may be underestimated. Could it be that having lots of Twitter followers and tons of Facebook “likes” is actually an indicator of product quality and a driver of sales?

In a study published by the American Journal of Medical Quality, there appears to be a correlation between the number of “likes” a hospital Facebook page receives and its mortality rate. The survey analyzed 40 hospital Facebook pages within a 25-mile radius of New York City. It focused on the relationship between 30-day mortality rates and the number of Facebook “likes,” as well as the correlation between “likes” and patient recommendations.

The survey findings suggest a positive relationship between patient recommendations and Facebook “likes,” along with a significant negative connection between 30-day mortality rates and Facebook likes. Bottom line? A higher number of Facebook likes were tied to lower patient mortality rates.

And that’s not all. The hospitals with more Facebook “likes” had more frequent social media engagement. This includes posts and responses by hospital administrators, as well as posts from patients and community members. The hospitals with a greater social media presence delivered an overall positive hospital experience to patients.

So what are we to make of all this? A strong social media presence means fewer people die? Not exactly. It does indicate that social media excellence is rewarded. And that social media excellence may be indicative of higher standards, greater resources, more funding and a more highly qualified staff. A well-maintained Facebook page may be an indication that this hospital, business or club does all things well.

Whatever the precise correlation may be, one thing is clear: social media venues like Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp and Google+ provide businesses and organizations a grapevine for its patients, customers and supporters to broadcast positive reviews and engage with their friends. And this is always good for business.