Beyond Likes

by , Dec 11, 2012, 8:40 AM
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A friend of mine announced last week on Facebook that his mother had passed away. Sad news.

I Liked this status update because I was engaged with the content and wanted to respectfully acknowledge my interest. Within 48 hours his status update received 115 comments, though only three Likes (my own included). Was it wrong for me to Like this news?

That status update -- along with other sad status updates -- underscores how Facebook’s Like button can fail to align with content people find engaging, but are afraid to hit the Like button on for fear of offending or appearing insensitive.

But if my friend’s status update had a Sympathize button, I’m sure it would have received a far higher volume of one-click votes and viral reach. For lazy humans, it’s a lot easier to respond to and engage with posts by hitting a single button, versus constructing and typing out (often from mobile devices) thoughtful responses.

Perhaps there’s a grand plan to propagate the world’s largest social network with a higher share of positive sentiment. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s even been some innovation beyond the Like with Facebook’s Action Types for various objects, with focus on verbs that imply a liking of something  (i.e., “read” or “purchased”).

Indeed, Likes and similar positive verbs are important for marketers in the social age. Likes are an explicit endorsement of a message or object; an expression of interest and engagement; and often a consumer request to opt-in -- and they’re easy for consumers to use.

But as an imperfect human, I know people are defined by a messy continuum -- things we like, things we don’t like, and things where we apply a whole bunch of nuanced verbs and adjectives to describe our preferences, feelings, motives and context.

I like the Like functionality, though sometimes I wish I had the ability to one-click respond with more descriptive precision -- whether positive, negative or between.

How about you? Which Facebook action or sentiment buttons would you like to see?

5 comments on "Beyond Likes".

  1. Kathy Broniecki from Envoy, Inc.
    commented on: December 11, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.
    I appreciate the like button and use it when I don't want to be inundated with other's comments on the same status. However - I agree that when the status is sad - it doesn't seem appropriate to "like" it. How about a hugs button - seems that would show the proper emotion when someone's lost a loved one or is just having a bad day.
  2. Jonathan Hutter from Garrand
    commented on: December 11, 2012 at 10:52 a.m.
    Perhaps no one fathomed that people would actually use Facebook to make announcements about their relatives' passing, let alone serious medical conditions or other personal tragedies that were previously shared only among ones closest friends.
  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited
    commented on: December 11, 2012 at 2:25 p.m.
    Agree/Disagree, Get off the train
  4. Heather MacLean from Salesforce Marketing Cloud
    commented on: December 12, 2012 at 8:25 a.m.
    i think that this highlights the real difference in the definition of engagement. In fact, I would argue that engagement goes way beyond a "Like". I think that this is what people are missing. Engagement is not supposed to be about a one-time action, it is about a two-way dialogue that is a part of a relationship or the building of same. I think as a whole, we tend to forget about the real nature of social and what social can accomplish. A "Like" is nice, but aside from that one-time action, what else is it accomplishing? Is the person who hit "Like" returning to the social channel? What is the real purpose of the "Like" button? This applies to both individual users as well as brands.
  5. Tim Mccormick from McCormick Fields
    commented on: December 18, 2012 at 12:46 p.m.
    I like Kathy's idea of a hugs button. On a harsher note= a scold button might come in handy. Social posters seem incredibly emboldened to share offensive language.

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