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What is a Like Bomb? Is it Good or Bad?

Some people like bombs, others just Like Bomb.

Among active Facebook users, the term “Like Bomb” describes someone rapidly liking a whole bunch of content on your wall. The question is when, if ever, is this a good thing to do?

Like so much else in life, one person’s trash is another’s treasures. Some people love broccoli, other’s can’t abide it. Some people love seeing a long, raid list of notifications show up. Others, especially those who get Facebook notifications on their cell phone or email Inbox, may find it highly annoying.

And, thus, there’s a simple answer:

  • If you don’t know someone well enough to predict their reaction, it’s probably a bad idea to Like Bomb their Facebook wall.
  • If someone hits your wall hard, it’s fair game to return the favor.
  • If you’re looking to engage with someone on Facebook, hit like a maximum of 3-5 items and craft a heart-felt comment.

Another word of warning: too many likes in a rapid span and you’ll end up in Facebook jail. That’s a temporary (but highly annoying) condition whereby Facebook disables the like (and/or commenting) features for your account.

What do you think? Are you happy or annoyed when someone blows up your Facebook notification stream with a dozen or more likes?

Image Source: The Library of Congress, no known copyright

21 Responses to What is a Like Bomb? Is it Good or Bad?

  • Depends on who is doing it for me, people who i don’t know randomly liking everything I find fake and annoying, but some friends just seem to like everything but they leave a comment saying what they hate so that works out well.

  • I agree Gareth, it’s hard to feel a connection to an interaction that might as well have been generated by a bot.

  • couldn’t agree more Gareth

  • I think like bombing is bad, and extremely annoying. Liking should be selective. Like everything and the whole liking concept pretty much becomes meaningless. If you like everything what does that mean? The whole concept of liking is that your distinguishing one group of things from another group of things. If everything is liked then there’s no distinction to be made. The other thing I don’t like about it is that it’s just become a form of advertising. People on Empire Avenue pay others in fake currency to like bomb their page. If you’re being paid to like something, then you really don’t like it at all. The other person is just paying you to like it. You are in effect selling your reputation for a few pieces of gold, and it’s not even real gold! Sometimes I feel like a real idiot when I participate in one of those Empire Avenue missions, but I have to admit that I’ve done it on several occasions just to get the fake currency. Upon reflection selling your “likes” for Empire Avenue currency is probably a really stupid thing to do. Is it really worth it to sell your reputation to advertise for some guy the you don’t even know? Maybe he’s a thief, and your reputation will be completely destroyed! I have a suggestion for your next post. Empire Avenue: are you building your reputation online, or are you destroying it? I have thought many times about deleting my account. What do you think?

  • I mostly agree Michael. In fact, after Facebook came out with social search I purged all of my Page likes. Now I’ve been a lot more selective and only like the Pages that I really am interested in associated with.

    The one place I think a Like Bomb is appropriate is when you have a friend, a friend you know won’t be upset by blowing up their notifications, and you are making a special point to connect with their content. If I truly no someone and take the time to visit their page and acknowledge visiting all of their most recent content, I think that’s a good thing. In fact, given all of the vagaries of Facebook edgerank, it’s also of some (potential) practical value for making their future content more visible to you.

    Nonetheless, I think the idea of “paying” for likes (or any other kind of traffic) is counter-productive. It’s fine to “pay” for marketing if it helps your ideal audience find you, but it’s ultimately self-defeating to pay for one-time only traffic.

  • I’m happy with all positive engagement!

  • Steve, great post. Personally I don’t mind “like” bombs, and in fact encourage and embrace them. There was a group in Social Empire who regularly signed up to do like bombs for each other. It was a mad dash (there was always a specific date, and usually a time window associated with it) and lots of fun, plus we would discover things on one another’s walls we had missed. I don’t know about others, but I don’t usually “like” something unless I really like it!

    I’ve turned off all but personal message notifications, so I don’t receive any messages about content that is “liked.” That means I see only salient, personal messages — the ones I most likely care about or need to respond to.

    The thing I found more annoying was to be tagged in photos or collages, or having people share things on my wall so their content would get more traffic. It got to the point where I couldn’t find my own content. At the end of the day, since I wanted to control what appeared on my wall, I was forced to terminate the ability for people to share on my wall.

    A social media buddy, Dragana Simic, doesn’t pull punches when it comes to explaining to friends and followers where she draws the line. If someone continues to tag her against her wishes, they’re unfriended. Maybe one way of dealing with unwanted “like” bombs is to first let that person know you don’t enjoy them, and if they continue, it may be time to block them.

    Here’s hoping life is treating you well!

    Cheers and thanks for sharing an interesting post.


    PS. I’m sending you private message on Facebook and hope you see it.

  • Great post! I think that the issue is not as simple as it might seem from one time to an other! Also things depend on the actual situation! The essence with all social networking and any social interaction by the way a decent, qualitative and a respectful communication and attitude!
    / Pazi

  • Steven, I am confused. Why do people “play” EA if they are irritated by the behaviors that it creates? If getting tagged or tagging, like bombing or getting bombed increases your EA scores why do you expect people to NOT do these things? Why be on EA at all? I have felt that signing up for EA and interacting with the players of EA means I am ok with all the behavios associated with the site. I simply turned off notifications, (doesn’t seem like rocket science.). I have seen more and more complaints about people that just post pictures then run a mission for likes. Wha ??? What am I missing? I thought that was the point of the platform… Please enlighten me. I enjoy EA, I have met some great people, learned a lot about social media, and I don’t take much of it personally. Thanks for the question/post. I’ve been wanting to ask these questions for awhile… I look forward to your thoughts. Regards, ~k

  • Kimberly,

    At the risk of stating the obvious: different people use different platforms for different reasons.

    For the specific example of EmpireAvenue, my observation is that there are distinctly different reasons for participation. Some people just want to measure their social media presence. Other people use it for networking. Others just use it as a substitute for advertising to generate traffic.

    So, if I use it as a replacement for Klout or Kred and you use it as a way to meet people and generate traffic, we have very different expectations with possibilities for conflict.

    And, even if we both want to generate traffic, you may be more concerned about getting just the right traffic and I may just want as much as possible (quality versus quantity tradeoff).

    Does that make sense?

  • Steven,
    I appreciate quality versus quantity. Absolutely, I also think anyone wanting to measure their online presence has a reason to desire an increase in their numbers. Isn’t the basis for social media networking/marketing to expose more people (quantity) to whatever one is “selling” with the hope a few (quality) connections are made? I question the complaint of like bomb and behaviors associated with EA. If you hate being tagged-disable tagging. If you hate 50 likes in quick succession don’t give personal FB account. Hook EA up to public page…. I use social media to promote for my friends and my film festival. I share what I find interesting and I appreciate every single like I get on anything because maybe I will find one more timelapse fan, or jazz fan, or someone that enjoys well written fiction. To me, it’s really just that simple. ~k

  • Hi, Steven

    You have raised an interesting question.

    For me, the answer is relatively clear-cut: I try to only “Like” things I genuinely like. If I like something, I should comment on why I like it and engage with the others who are posting on that thing, whatever it is.

    Activity for the sake of racking up numbers is simply annoying and a waste, in my opinion.

    That said, if someone wants to just “Like” any of my social networking sites or blog posts, have at it … just tell me why:)


  • I have to say I agree 100% with Kimberly on this. If you are annoyed by the likes, then you are in the wrong business. Besides, both Google+ and Facebook give one the ability to create a page and interact with others as that page. There is no need to put yourself personally out there if you don’t want to.

  • Like bombs are definitely spammy… and I admit to being on both sides of that equation. Like most that have participated in the like bomb, it is merely for manipulating the social value as measured by another site and really has nothing to do with marketing. The problems is twofold – reputation and reputation. That is, people will look upon your reputation. The other is algorithms will evaluate your reputation.

    Anytime we use social media other than the way it was intended, we are out of line. The one facebook spam that I get a little peeved about is the picture tagging… so much so that I wrote a post about it just a couple days ago: http://drhaley.com/facebook-tags/ I think it is quite relevant to this post.

  • Kimberly, I too have met quite a few – and have done significant business with people from Eav. My “Stockton Aloe 1” website was built by someone on Empire Avenue… and I must say, it rocks! But I use Empire Avenue to generate traffic numbers on posts prior to sending out the corporate email. Then, when others click through, they can tell others have been there. It adds social proof. Also, when there is engagement, like comments, others are more likely to jump in. Consider this comment… which was triggered by your comment. In the same way, EA can be used to get the ball rolling.

  • The “bomb” is in the eye of the beholder. Whether it’s good or bad depends on the intent. If they are simply liking everything because they think it’s the thing to do, then no. But what if they’re catching up and really do like the posts?

    Of course, it may not actually do you any good in either case, but what is the harm?

  • It’s interesting to read all of your opinions about LIKES, COMMENTS, and TAGS. There are so many differing views that I’m sure anyone here is bound to make a mistake and end up offending someone else. For instance: the thought never occurred to me that anyone could ever NOT like a LIKE, though I see the point that a slew of uncaring LIKES appears insincere. But consider too – just how natural is the practice of an “activity co-op” to begin with? Just what is “social rocket fuel”?

    To bomb or not to bomb – I like to peak ahead of a LIKE mission to make sure there is indeed some content that I… like. I might see nothing and pass, no matter how big the reward. I might only see one or two interesting things and make a decision about whether I am going to be able to carry out the request. Other destinations are very easy places to find 10 or 20 LIKES, so I happily blast away at the content I genuinely like.

    If the mission is to comment – then be a good sport and say something thoughtful, even if it’s short. There again I like to look ahead and make sure I want to comment before I commit to the mission. There are some eavers who are happy to ask for LIKES while leaving the commenting process up to the individual. Obviously, everyone wants comments, but not many will want “cool page”. I imagine those players with interesting content get some nice results when the comments on their blog or FB page are natural rather than contrived.

    Cheap comments – it’s pretty easy to spot a page that’s been pimped up with a hail storm of “nice page”. And it’s no mystery that an inordinant number of two-word comments looks conspicuous and pathetic. I don’t know that it’s even necessary to comment every single time I LIKE a thing. If no words come to mind then I’m happy to simply LIKE what I see. After all – how many ways are there to say “wow, that’s a great looking sunset”? A nice sunset it may be, but there are a million nice sunsets out there. Sometimes it seems more helpful to stay quiet rather than be redundant.

    Tagging – there’s another lesson for me. I figured people like to be mentioned, and something like a friend-matrix is a fun and easy way to acheive that end. There’s no denying that it stimulates a few laughs and some social chatter for those who participate. On the other hand, it can be a sneaky way to tease up some traffic. But isn’t that what every single person here is trying to do? Isn’t it simply a case of the crude versus the clever?

    One last thing before I zip it – I am not a rocket scientist and I did NOT sleep at a Holiday Inn last night.

    Cheers everybody, you’re all amazing 🙂

  • I would highly agree with both Terri and Dubie’e responses. I’m a like bomber to the Nth degree. I’ve never been jailed for it, but do know those who have. For me, it’s how I use the facebook platform. I teach art classes. I have many students that upload work and I want to encourage them. I give a sincere “like” if I think their artwork is going in a direction of growth. Also, I am a very visual person. I frequently use the “likes” from my activity feed for inspiration on other projects.

    While I attempt to keep in mind the individual and their background before I do any type of like bomb, Dubie is really right that its the wrong place to be if this is going to irk you. That is a large portion of facebook and even how the edgerank is formulated.

    On the flipside though, I myself have also found individuals that appear to like for no reason. They are not an artist and the content does not seem to fit the persona I have come to know. That gets really creepy and I tend to not public post because of this.

    p.s. Love the photo you have chosen for this. Makes me wonder if a like bomb is really felt that heavily or is it embraced and lightens someones load from their day; thanks for a thoughtful post

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  • Gareth said my thoughts the best. When it’s someone I know, I like it because it shows me they stopped by my page and they like the content I am sharing.

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