Facebook has several changes over the years to its Page structure. Presently, we live in a world with what Facebook calls the Classic Page Experience and the New Page Experience. Rival IQ provides the total Page fans which is the best available data for each Page experience.
Classic vs New
An example of the Classic Page Experience is HubSpot. Note that in the About section, Facebook delineates between Likes and Follows.
An example of the New Page Experience is Alex Honnold. Note that the main header now contains a followers count, and the about section contains no additional information on page likes.
Page Fans in Rival IQ
In Rival IQ, we use the term Page Fan to describe the best available audience/fan metric for each of these experiences.
For the Classic page experience, we use the page likes count because it is the only number that Facebook makes available that consistently matches the Facebook site. Their API returns results for followers inconsistently, and when it does return, the number does *not* match what they display on the Facebook site. We do not believe Facebook will ever resolve this issue.
For the New page experience, we use the followers count, as it is the only number that exists to track.