I miss being able to Fan on Facebook.
To me, as a digital marketer of 13+ years, the Fan button and the cultural shift it created was a monumental move in the right direction. It was, at the time, the lowest barrier to opt-in ever created. As a consumer, I used it copiously — I’m a proud fan of 2 dollars bills, laughing when someone falls, Regretsy and Captain Bogg and Salty. As a marketer, my passion for relationship marketing was rekindled. Facebook was the future of Marketing, a complex balance between media, brand experience, relationship marketing and word of mouth. Wow.
Now, I’m not so sure.
Liking is different
Liking is a preference, it’s a gesture, it’s not an opt-in. As Justin’s recent post and the conversation that ensued so beautifully illustrated, it is not clear that when we like something we’re opting-in. Not only that, if we are willingly opting-in, it’s not clear what we’re opting in to. In Justin’s example, he opted-in to communication from a blog post, that’s just weird.
On the other side, as a Marketer, I don’t want the burden of deception. Generally, I want the right people to deliberately opt-in. I want it easy but I want it clear.
In the early days of email there were no best practices for opt-in and preference management. At that time, email wasn’t a very useful marketing platform. Once things like double opt-in and unsubscribe links became standard (not to mention CAN-Spam), email took-off for Marketers. Will the same thing happen on Facebook? Do we need to prepare for double opt-in social-style? I hope not. Personally, fanning felt like the right balance.
Here’s the official explanation from Facebook on why they made the change,
To improve your experience and promote consistency across the site, we’ve changed the language for Pages from “Fan” to “Like.” We believe this change offers you a more light-weight and standard way to connect with people, things and topics in which you are interested.
Common wisdom is that it was for them. That it’s a move towards owning the semantic web, towards beating Google at relevance by actually understanding people’s preferences instead of inferring based on page rank. I think the big mistake here is not thinking through the implications to us, Marketers and consumers. Facebook has been tight-lipped about how Liking works. As we discovered last night, they’ve left it up to us to figure out how to manage our army of likable objects and their likers – even requiring that we develop a tagging strategy. As far as I can tell they provide no new tools to manage or communicate back to our new segments.
At the end of the day, this is just semantics. We need more flexibility in what we call that gesture (stay tuned). The confusion on all sides will dissipate. Consumers have begun and will continue to Like everything everywhere. Marketers will become even more focused on Facebook but we’ll struggle to get the tools we need to be successful. Luckily, everything will change again soon.