To ‘Like’ something on Facebook is to show the world what you’re into, what a cool cat you are and why everyone should be your friend.
It should be the modern day equivalent of the button badge. But it’s not by any stretch of the imagination.
To get a ‘Like’ isn’t that hard on Facebook. If you’re famous, you’ll probably get thousands, or millions. Vin Diesel, for example, has about 27million people who have clicked ‘Like’ for his page.
So long as you don’t slaughter kittens or generally annoy people too much, someone somewhere will click ‘Like’ on your brand’s page. And if they click ‘Like’, someone else will too.
The number of ‘Likes’ you have isn’t necessarily a measure of success.
I don’t think that people click ‘Like’ because they necessarily want to engage. I think that they click ‘Like’ because they, well, like something.
Lots of people talk, quite correctly, about providing value and a reason for people to ‘Like’ you/your brand. I’m not going to disagree. But if they happen to buy your product anyway, then they might as well ‘Like’ you online without the need for any further engagement.
You can even ‘Like’ ironic pages. “Giving someone the thumbs up after sex because they did a good job” is just one such page (at least, I hope it’s ironic. I shudder to think of the consequences otherwise).
For marketers, this presents a problem.
If someone ‘Likes’ the above ironic group and ‘Likes’ your brand, which will they give most credence to in their update stream?
One would hope it would be the brand page. But it may not be.
And for anyone viewing that user’s profile, they’ll have no idea whether that user puts more effort into giving someone a thumbs up or seeking out the brand until they’re actually ‘Friends’ can get to check out each other’s streams.
Facebook doesn’t give you the opportunity to ‘Love’ something. (This is where we get back to button badges)
Back in the day, the cool kids would wear button badges to show their various tribal allegiances. The badges had to be found (or made), attached to the clothing, taken off for a wash and then reattached.
The badges demanded some love and attention.
A Facebook ‘Like’ however is a one click, soon forgotten action that simply opens the door to marketing communications jostling for space alongside pictures of cute kitties, “OMG LOL I can’t believe he just said that” Xfactor updates and so on.
It is completely unlike the humble button badge which demands several active components to be worn.
A ‘Like’, even thousands of them, isn’t a guarantee of engagement, nor is it really that meaningful in the social ecosystem.
It’s a doorway that might (or might not) lead to engagement. But it isn’t engagement itself.
Maybe we need to look at ways that we can stop ‘Liking’ things, especially when the surrounding ‘Likes’ can be pretty meaningless.
We need to start ‘Loving’ more.
And we need more button badges, not more website ‘Like’ buttons…
Image used under Creative Commons from Flickr, courtesy of melisdramatic