Here’s a true story about Facebook and the "like" button…
I was recently having dinner with a very senior marketing executive when the conversation turned to brands and how they handle themselves in online public forums. In this instance, the senior marketer had a customer service issue that was not being resolved. Not unlike many other people, they turned to Social Media to air their grievances in hopes of getting resolution. They were quite pleased with the outcome after posting to the brand’s Facebook page, but made it clear that even though they got the resolution they were looking for, it had left a bad brand taste in their mouth and that they would no longer be buying from them. Not long after that incident, they kept seeing this brand in their news feed and became extremely irritated by this. The senior marketer thought that they were spammed by this brand. The senior marketer didn’t realize two important things:
- In this instance she had to "like" the brand to be able to post on their page.
- Once you like a brand (or anyone) you can moderate how much content you see of theirs on your wall.
Pimping for likes.
It’s kind of weird, isn’t it? You have to "like" a brand to complain about them? Sure, it’s just nomenclature, but it’s important to know and understand that the majority of people probably have no idea what it actually means when they "like" a brand on Facebook and what happens after that. This is not some uncommon rarity either. In fact it’s becoming more and more commonplace, as brands seem to be that much more interested in getting people to like them on Facebook than getting them into their own loyalty program or trying to build a direct relationship with them.
Another true Facebook story…
Not long ago, a major retailer contacted our agency, Twist Image, because they wanted a strategy around how to get 50,000 people to "like" them on Facebook. My obvious question was, "why?" and their answer was, "because that’s how many likes our competitors have and it’s frustrating our CEO." The brand was even willing to give a unique discount to each person who clicked the like button for them. Yup, they were willing to "buy" Facebook likes. No joke.
Who do you like?
My new role as a Media Hacker (still loving that title) is one where I force myself to think not of the brand and its strategy, but to think of the consumer. To be a consumer (in fact, I’m a huge consumer – on all fronts). Who do I really like? It’s a small, few and trusted brands. However, there are brands that I have been using forever that I would never like on Facebook, and I would certainly never like a brand just to get a discount, enter a contest or because they asked me to (no matter how nice). The truth is that many people are not like me. The majority of people will complain about privacy and the use of their personal information, but will then divulge everything to save a dollar. It’s not an indictment on our society… it’s simply a fact.
I don’t like the big Facebook like button gold rush.
There. I said it. Every brand I come across on Facebook smacks you in the face with the product and then a huge arrow pointing upward with copy akin to "like us and win!" or "like us to get more information!" It feels cheap and it is cheap. Social Media is interesting because it forces brands to connect in a more human way (I call this, "real interactions between real human beings"). It’s not about bumping up numbers because suddenly the amount of people following you looks like some sort of National Debt Clock for the world to see.
Brands need to quit the cheap games to gain likes and need to focus on developing tangible relationships and publishing valuable content that makes them worthy of following and liking.