I “Like” Facebook, but can no longer be a “Fan”

Below is a brief top line that capture three of the most recent Facebook changes and the implications these changes have for brands and marketers.

language Change: Consumers connect to (Brand) Pages by clicking “Like” rather than “Become a Fan.” The core functionality of Pages remains unchanged. The purpose of this change is to make it easier for consumers to connect with pages and to facilitate similar liking. The marketing implications are:

  1. Trade off of consumer commitment for convenience
  2. Restructure current communication that includes “Fans”, “Become a Fan” or “Fan us on Facebook”
  3. Develop new communication around “Like”
  4. Introduction of new visual icon “thumps up”
  5. Management of automatic connection between friends, similar likes and Pages
  6. Elimination of ability to give feedback (commenting or liking) on like connections in the news feed
  7. New engagement ads feature friends who also liked the ad or brand

Connected Profile: A user profile is now organized into categories and will link directly to Official and Community Pages about their interests.  To help link to actual Pages, Facebook has matched info entered on a profile to Pages about those topics.  Clicking “Like” will connect to a Page and add it to a user profile or they can add pages directly.  The Marketing implications are:

  1. Increased stickiness and opportunity to increase likeability of brands
  2. Likeability will become a new metric for users and brands
  3. Publicizes users personal information about interests’

New Community Pages: a new type of Page for general topics and all kinds of “unofficial” but important things.  Users can see what others are saying about stuff that matters to that user.  Second hand information may also accompany pages to help provide context. Marketing implications:

  1. Digital user movements will be easier to track and spread
  2. Connects information and centralizes it with in the platform
  3. Potential homogenization of information

POV:  The new Facebook changes seem to be well intended.  But these are signs not only of the times, but of things to come, and not just on Facebook, but to life in the pig picture.  Complexity in the digital world is quickly increasing.  What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow.  We all know that the only constant is change.  And the biggest change here is positive.. Literally.. It’s coming in the form of liking.

The challenge with the new metric is that while the functionality has not changed, the context has.  Before, when a user became a fan they made a decision to “become” associate with a brand which was psychologically an action greater than just clicking (in both their mind and the brands mind).  “Fans” were the equivalent of “Friends” or “Followers for brands.  By changing the syntax to “Like” the commitment level associated with this word is less.  For instance if Fans were Friends before, Likers are now like acquaintances.  This means, the “Like’ metric becomes less quantifiable in terms of the number of people.  But this also means that the “Like” metric becomes more of a measure of emotion and affinity toward a brand.  Facebook suggests that over time, people adapt to the language change.  I don’t disagree, I just think that psychologically the same will happen too.  And while these are all positive steps that improve user experience, increase engagement and promote consistency across the platform its only a matter of time before things change again..

New Trend:

Niche Page Strategy: Haven’t figured out exactly how what I’m about to say is affected by the above.. But regardless, last month an article ran on Inside Facebook and highlighted Budweiser’s Facebook strategy which was to create niche pages for specific products, in specific regions. The idea is that creating niche pages can boost the feeling of community on Facebook. One could argue that this strategy taps the regional pride around a certain product. On the flip side, others argue this is a surefire way to dilute a brand.

But if you think about it, Apple does the same thing on iTunes. Europeans can’t buy from the US site, nor can US peeps buy from the Canada site. #Hmm..?

Earlier tonight I met a friend for dinner and we discussed marketing. This friend has about 19,000 Facebook friends across 11 accounts. While everyone knows who he is, each of his profiles cater to a specific group of people who share a similar interest and subsequently go to his events. So in a sense, this friend of mine is like a Budweiser. With lots of niche profiles catering to specific crowds with relevant content, delivered in the right context. #Hmm..?




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