Monday, January 9, 2012

I Like you but not as a friend

It can be strange working in digital & social media marketing and using the web as a place of work as well as a place of leisure. There are times when I take actions online that I “over-think”. Whereas a “normal” web user would just not give it a second thought.

It’s annoying in a way, that I will never be able to use these tools without over-thinking my use of them. Almost like an innocence in my use of the web has vanished. I know for example, that I use Facebook so differently to many of my friends.

And that’s the thing that has struck me recently. The clamour for the Facebook “Like” and what it means. What it REALLY means.

Very occasionally rightly (but more often than not wrongly), businesses who want to get involved in social media think Facebook as a first port of call. Create a page, get people to Like the page. If you work in a digital or social agency and you’re reading this, you’ve definitely experienced this.

And this has never been the right approach; just creating a page and getting people to Like it isn’t a social strategy. In fact it’s bullshit.

Part of the problem is the terminology that is used – the Like. Thanks to the sheer size of Facebook, the Like has become the ubiquitous social media term that businesses use as a de-facto justification, verification and validation of their social media “strategy” bringing results. It’s not.

The Facbeook Like is nothing more than a response by a user at an instantaneous moment in time to a specific piece of content that they appreciated. The moment they click that Like for that piece of content, the Like becomes useless. Worthless. Forgotten. It does not – repeat DOES NOT – actually mean they like you. Or that they’re automatically your advocate.

The biggest Facebook Like misconception is that once the Like has been clicked, the hard work is over. No, it’s just started.

You see, practically, the Facebook Like is nothing more than a signal for your content to be placed in front of that user in their activity stream. From that point on, it’s what you continue to put in front of that user that will determine if they ACTUALLY like you.

Using Facebook and other social media tools to interact with your users is a continuous, evolving body of work. Everything you post, everything you share needs to qualify, verify and validate that first ever Like they gave you. Every post you make, you need to make them want to Like it again. Even though they won’t have to.

In reality, by keeping them keen all you’re doing practically is stopping them from Unliking you.

But that’s the mindset you need to be in. That you’re always on probation. Always being examined. That your every move needs to be made in the knowledge that your work is never done, and that you’re always being watched.

Do that enough, and people will actually like you. Instead of making you think they do.

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