My inspiration for that post origins in a recent Podcast of the SoLoMo Show, hosted by Cory O’Brien and Adam Helweh. In my opinion, by far the best Podcast for Social Media Marketing. It covers current developments around social, local and mobile marketing and gives excellent recommendations for hot online tools. It is a must for every online marketer, so check it out.
Adam and Cory were discussing the meaning of a Facebook Like based on a recent case, where a deputy got fired because he liked the Facebook page of the opposition. The whole conversation went in the direction whether or not Social Media should be considered free speech. I don’t want to dive too deep in the topic but follow the thoughts. I asked myself which meaning a Facebook Like has for myself. Which emotions, feelings and expressions do I connect with a click on the famous button?
Facebook’s statement about the Like Button
What is the Like feature?
“Like is a way to give positive feedback or to connect with things you care about on or off of Facebook. You can like content that your friends post to give them feedback or like a Page that you want to connect with on Facebook”
What does it mean to “Like” something?
“Clicking Like under something you or a friend posts on Facebook is an easy way to let someone know that you enjoy it, without leaving a comment.”
What does it mean to Like a Page or content off of Facebook?
“When you click Like on a Facebook Page, in an advertisement, or on content, you are making a connection. A story about your like will appear on your Wall (timeline) and may also appear in your news feed. You may be displayed on the Page you connected to, in advertisements about that Page, or in social plugins next to the content you like … Facebook Pages you like may post updates to your news feed or send you messages. Your connection to the page may also be shared with apps on the Facebook Platform.”
The official Facebook statement about their button is as rational as expected. The takeaway is that Liking something is a sort of positive feedback for things you care about. Clicking the Like Button shows that you enjoy a post without commenting it. Very important is the point that a Like appears not only on your own timeline and in the news feed but is also shared with third-party apps. A Like is not limited to your own Facebook community and can travel quite a long way. Therefore, you shouldn’t underestimate the impact of a quick Like.
Merriam-Webster defines Like as:
- “to be suitable or agreeable to something”
- “to feel attraction toward or pleasure in something”
- “to wish to have”
When do you click the Facebook Like Button?
There are different motives for clicking the small Button on a mouse or touchpad. Since the Facebook language changed form “Become a Fan” to “Like”, it could simply mean that you want to follow a brand or a page to get the latest updates. Pages often give discounts or further insights after you liked their page. Maybe you are really a fan of the organization, maybe it’s hip to follow them or the action is only based on give-aways by the page you like. Clicking the Like button for a brand is a form of self-expression or public endorsement – simply a matter of individual interpretation.
Away from pages, a Like may mean that you endorse a status, statement, image or comment. It does not necessarily mean that you actually like the posted content, but you agree with it. Basically, it is a quick and casual way to express approval and show your sympathy. For instance, liking a status “your friend went from being in a relationship into being a single” expresses probably your concern instead of liking the split up (at least in most cases).
A study from ExactTarget reveals interesting findings about the meaning of a Facebook Like to users. They conclude that a Like is ambiguous and can have subtle variations in meaning that are highly dependent on context and the individual user. The study states that a Like is light-hearted, casual and fun and no commitment to anything.
“I like it, but in a different Way”
I asked some of my friends what they think when clicking the Facebook Like button. I got different answers. Some act intuitive because they really like a page or a post, others want to show support for an action or share interests with their friends. My personal use of the button is rather limited. I follow some brands because I really appreciate what they are doing and I want to keep up with their latest news. I like images and posts of friends in my network to express that I enjoy the contributions. In my perception, Facebook is still a social network, which is meant to be entertaining and let us connect which each other. Meaning that I don’t put too much weight in a Like and simply see it as a tool to share my interests with others.
When it comes to pages, brands or organizations, the perception of the Like Button changes. Everyone should be aware that a casual click has a future impact and doesn’t stay inside Facebook. Still, brands shouldn’t overstate Likes since it can have completely different motivations and doesn’t necessarily mean people support the page or become brand advocates. There is definitely a demand for a legal framework when it comes to shares, likes and tweets in the future.
Interpreting a Like can probably end in a discussion that lasts for hours. Finally, it depends a lot on the content that was liked and the person, who liked it. I am very interested in your opinion. What do you express with a Facebook Like? How do you use the small button? I appreciate your comments and, of course, a Like for this Post …