Since Facebook unveiled their new Like Button and associated social plugins several weeks ago at their F8 Conference, they’ve been the talk of the social media town.
In efforts to leverage the social tidal wave of Facebook recommendations, more than 100,000 sites have installed these plugins in the short time that they have been available.
Just another toolbar
Appending social voting and recommendation systems to web content is hardly a new concept. Digg buttons and sharing toolbars are so common on blog posts that they are for the most part ignored (when was the last time you used share-this?). Apart from the shiny Facebook association, what makes the Like button any different?
The most obvious differentiator is scale. While Digg might do 40 million unique visitors per month, and Twitter boasts 100 million (total – not active) users, Facebook welcomes 200 million of their nearly half-billion users to their site daily. While the other social plugins might cater to the social media crowd, the Like button applies to everyone.
The fact that the social graph has been opened up to shape experiences on sites outside of Facebook also changes the game. One visit to likebutton.me while logged into facebook will show you how the recommendations of your friends can (and will) shape your media consumption across the web as this feature gains more traction.
Why should we like you?
Ask yourself a simple question… and then share this question with others in your organization…
What do we do that is likeable?
The terminology is beautiful. It’s not masked in a silly tech-jargon, and it doesn’t feel like it’s relegated for a weird tribe of uber-social web folk. A simple question to repeat in your mind as you peruse your web presence and the information and face that you show to the world.
Why didn’t we do this sooner?
Why do you publish content to the web in the first place? You’re trying to impress someone, inspire someone, communicate something of value to an audience and convince them to take action. That’s what marketing is, right?
Until now, how often did you ask yourself “will our audience like this?”
Probably not very often. Marketing folks typically pass copy around the office and ensure that it says the right stuff… in the right way… to ensure that the right message is conveyed. In other words, it is written in a way that the marketer likes it.
And so we produce brochure-ware spec sheets and organization-speak writing. Videos are uninspired and convey the company line and photos are staged, stock or impossibly perfect.
Take inventory of your current communications and ask yourself (as a customer): “Do I like this?” or do I read it because I have to?
For all of the content that feels uninspiring, think about creative ways of conveying the same message in a way that might make it more likeable, more entertaining or more useful. This isn’t possible for all types of information – but I bet you can do better. You can always do better.
Its not about the button
It’s easy to fall for the glitter and shine of a new facebook feature and implement it for the sake of “being more social”. But simply plastering “like” buttons all over your website and thinking you’re about to cash in is the 2010 equivalent of banking on a “viral youtube video campaign” in 2007.
Does the Like button have the potential to change online marketing? Totally. But its not going to happen because of technology or even social networks. Technology makes it possible, and social sharing of content is a side effect.
The game changing feature is that this shiny little button might finally convince marketers to stop talking about their stuff and saying the same thing as everyone else, and instead shift their focus to creating content that people actually like to hear.
What’s your take on the Like button?
*Photo Credit: JoelTelling*