I Like You, I Just Don't Love You (Or How Facebook Is Redefining The Fanatic)
By now you've seen the latest update to Facebook Pages. It's out with the "Fans" and in with the "Likes." Facebook Pages are no longer using the term "fan" to define the connection between a user and the brand/Page owner. The more accepted term "like" is being used in it's place. Here's a couple of reasons this makes sense, and what marketers need to do.
First, clicking "Like" rather than "Become a Fan," creates a lighter declaration for a user. According to Dictionary.com, fan is short for fanatic; meaning an enthusiastic devotee, follower, or admirer of a sport, pastime, celebrity, etc. "Like" allows users to make connections with Pages without claiming to be a devotee. It's easy to tell your date you "like" them rather than you "love" them.
Second, the "like" action is easy and familiar for users. After all according to Facebook stats, users click "like" more than twice as much as the "Become a fan" button each month. This is likely a key step in preparing the world for the Open Graph API where fans can "like" any Web page not just a Facebook Page.
The Open Graph API will allow any page on the Web to have all the features of a Facebook Page -- users will be able to become a Fan of the page, it will show up on that user's profile and in search results, and that page will be able to publish stories to the stream of its fans.
Previously the fan box had only one set of thumbnails and a couple of them would always display one of your friends. Now there is a separate list of thumbnails on top which lists "Friends who also like this", which is much better. This mimics the "mutual friends" function from personal profiles, which is a very powerful tool. I know that before I accept a friend request from somebody I ALWAYS look at mutual friends. The overall net effect of this change could result greater personal endorsement for brand pages from your friends.
Lastly, marketers shouldn't change their Fan growth strategy/"People Like This" growth strategy. Growing your connections will still be important, and the functionality of your wall and users' newsfeed will not change. Remember the Wall has 110 times more reach than your page, and leveraging this channel is extremely valuable. Worst case scenario, some marketers may need to update copy; replacing "fan" with "like" - just don't call them Likers.