Facebook wants to make the Internet a much more like-able place, and is announcing several changes around its "LIKE" button at its F8 developers conference this week.
1. Embedding the Like button on sites across the Internet
2. Displaying brand/community Pages that users have Liked on their personal Facebook profile page
3. Recommending new brands/community Pages for Facebook users to Like
4. Renaming the “Become a Fan” to “Like”
The moves are just further evidence of Facebook’s strategy to strengthen the connection between its members and marketers.
You Like Me..You REALLY Like Me!
Facebook’s introduction of a “Like” button that online publishers can add to their sites is the biggest news of all. The new button functions much like “Digg this” or "Tweet This," and will supplement Facebook Connect as a tool that enables Facebook users to share articles to their profile pages.
So why should Facebook users or marketers care?Two big reasons: 1) Activity Feed 2) Profile Page.
Unlike Digg, which allows you to anonymously recommend web content, the Facebook button will publicly identify your external “Likes” by displaying a note in your Activity Feed and on your personal profile page. Facebook will also add the list of brands and cause pages that you follow, or have “Liked” in your personal profile.
We Think You Will Also Like...
In fact, Facebook will go one step further and recommend Pages you might like, based on your current “Likes” and content you post to Facebook.
Update your status with a post that says you "can't wait to go to the John Mayer concert next week," and you will soon see "John Mayer" suggested as a Facebook Page you should 'like'.
Some privacy issues have already been raised over concerns that the “Like” button, distributed across the web, could be used to track individual user behavior, but Facebook insists that it will use the data ONLY to provide better advertising and marketing recommendations within the Facebook platform.
Reach Out And Touch Someone...Please
Ultimately, Facebook wants to better connect people with brands. Most studies show that peer-to-peer recommendations are highly influential in purchasing decisions, and displaying a list of brands and products that consumers 'like' on their personal profile page and activity feeds constitutes a public endorsement. So, getting a “seal of approval” on a personal profile page that gives the appearance of endorsing a brand really can pay off for marketers.
A Word (or two) of Caution
There's also level of trust involved here that both sides (Facebook and brands) have yet to fully earn. Facebook has made a number of missteps on privacy issuesthat has members feeling leery about what Facebook is doing with their data. And brands need to alter their normal behavior when on Facebook and not be too intrusive into what is, after all, a personal experience for the members.
Most people don't join Facebook to connect with brands--they join to connect with their real-world friends and family. As long as brands play nice and join--but don't try to dominate--the conversation, my take is that they will be welcome on the personal pages of Facebook members. It will be a delicate balance.
What are your thoughts? Is Facebook ruining the social experience for members by facilitating brand connections or just bringing the marketplace to where the people are?