If I were to point out two of the biggest changes Facebook brought about, one would most definitely be – ‘connectivity’. Facebook defined online communion in a whole new way, shrinking the world into a smaller and well-connected space.
The second biggest and the most unexpected impact of Facebook has loose semantic undertones. The word ‘Like’ was never half as popular, until Facebook made it the face of every consumer product, advertising, social, basically – every online campaign.
All in all, Facebook made the word ‘Like’ apparently more likeable.
But is the signatory ‘Like’ a real measure of ‘brand value’ – as it is largely perceived?
To most search engine marketers, the Likes to a Facebook campaign directly translate to higher appraisals, greater takeaways, fatter allowances, and so on. Brands too, for that matter, have given themselves enough rope and rationale by equating ‘Likes’ to online popularity. This trend has in fact forced economists around the world to attach varying degrees of stakes to the ‘Like’. As a reputed firm points, “a Like ups your brand value by $8”, while another reckons that a single Like adds, on an average, 20 new visitors to a webpage. All of this bears out the chemistry brands share with the Like. But what about consumers; what about you and me?
Does a page with a huge trail of Likes mean it’s actually a worthwhile place to be?
Case in point: My friend Janet likes a particular brand on Facebook, and so do Rob and Joyce, my two workmates. Now I am given to believing that a Facebook Like ideally represents a user’s approval of a brand, merchandize, product, or content.
However major marketing studies, branch-root analysis, and a number of dotcom surveys categorically point out that it is more than twice as likely that Janet, Rob, or Joyce endorse a product, merchandise, or service just to win a contest, rack up a great deal, or even to win freebies.
Could their liking a page then be taken as a genuine endorsement of a brand/product?
Could it be ascertained, with any reasonable amount of conviction, that the Facebook Like isn’t influenced by the precepts of hardcore branding and merchandising?
A case of marketing overkill: A famous pizzeria in downtown London has over 111,000 Likes (or Facebook fans) to its credit. Now say a dozen of my friends also happen to like this page. The moment I figure this, I am drawn in, even with no real experience of the place.
However what’s stayed under wraps is that this Pizzeria until just recently was holding out an iPad 3 for every 10,000 Likes on its Facebook page. What this means is that just by giving away even five of those stunning new iPads, the brand would’ve amassed 50,000 Likes flat.
From the brand’s perspective, this worked out a great strategy. As a business, it basically bought a huge number of visitors, and can go on now to create massive ripples online.
But at the same time, this turns out grossly misleading for somebody, who actually believes a Facebook Like is a fair measure of the business value of a brand. In other words, it demeans the whole concept of endorsing a brand/product on Facebook.
The rapid commercialization of the Internet means hard-selling now is very much a part of its DNA. This has had a direct impact on the Facebook Like, which, instead of being a measure of brand equity, is getting reduced to a numbers game.
There are certain online entities – content for example – where the Like serves a fair purpose. Commodities though, especially products and merchandize, by way of branding and marketing overkill, have brought down the essence of the Like.