What's the Business Value of a Facebook "Like"?

When I logged into Facebook this morning, Facebook suggested that I “like” Walmart and Samsung because some of my friends “like” them. This got me wondering about the business value of a Facebook “like.”

If you “like” a company’s page, its content then appears in your stream. There’s certainly some value in this arrangement for the company: they get to advertise directly to you. But what do you get out of it? Do you benefit from this arrangement?

For the most part, I’m not so sure you do. Most companies’ Facebook updates are just ads and self promotion. In other words, they’re simply electronic versions of the paper junk mail that has long plagued our mailboxes. Just as most junk mail goes straight into the recycling bin with hardly a second glance, most corporate announcements on Facebook are similarly unnoticed by their target audiences. In both cases, a company pays an intermediary (for junk mail, it’s the printer and the post office; for Facebook updates, it’s Facebook) to broadcast its message to a wide and fairly undifferentiated audience.

And in both cases, the message often misses the mark. Although Facebook is still going strong, its dominance in the field of corporate social-media messaging is fading. As more and more people become aware of—and annoyed by—the deluge of electronic corporate messaging being “pushed” to them, they increasingly become “numb” to those forms of advertising. When that happens, they “unlike” companies on Facebook or turn to totally different media outlets altogether. And then the companies whose business plans include reliance on Facebook for messaging find themselves without an audience.

When you log into your personal Facebook account, do you pay attention to the corporate self-promotion that appears in your stream? Probably not. And if you’re not noticing what other companies post, what makes you think that people will notice what your company posts?

If you want to maintain a competitive edge in your market, you need to stay on top of current advertising trends—and innovate beyond them. Take the observations you gain as a social media user yourself and apply them to your business practices. Think about the way you like to be engaged by marketers. Do you prefer suggestions based on what your “friends” “like”? Or, do you prefer suggestions based on what you’re reading or searching for?

Sure, go ahead and maintain a Facebook page for your company. But don’t invest huge amounts of money or effort into it and don’t expect it to pull in tons of new business. Instead, think of it as a means to connect a bit with people who are already interested in your product or service, and then look for other ways to build connections with people who aren’t already interested in your company—but should be. 

 

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