From Facebook 'Like' To 'Want'?

Facebook is rumored to be formally testing a “Want” button, and in light of GM’s visible withdrawal of ad spend it could not have come at a better time for brands.

We are always looking for things to measure, and Facebook’s “Like” gave marketers around the globe a new thing to track and count as well as an immediate way to apply a behavior to their product or service. And like all cool and new shiny objects, measuring likes went viral, although it is an imperfect measurement.

With billions of likes appearing overnight, it has created an amazing pool of data that brands are struggling to monetize.

  • Does a Like = buying intent?
  • Are all Likes equal?
  • What is the value of a Like?
  • How can I engage with context?

The “Like” button is omnipresent, but the success of the use has diluted the value. Users quickly badge themselves to a brand, but are disconnected with actual purchase or use intent, which raises the bar on consumer understanding and necessitates the maturation from “Like” to “Want.”



If Facebook is ditching the "like" button for "want," why not move all the way up the human behavioral chain to a "need" button? Here is how I predict the Facebook “like” will evolve next.

A like is something that you find pleasing, amusing, or something for which you wish to show support. A good example is your friend announcing their promotion.

A want is something you would like to have. It is not absolutely necessary, but it would be a good thing to have. A good example is music.

A need is something you have to have -- something you can't do without. A good example is food. If you don't eat, you won't survive for long.    

What’s now: #IWANT

Twitter’s rapid rise has created a transparent medium to understand the consumer in a social Petri dish and delivered the logical, progressive next step: 140 characters of unfiltered access to the consumer. The micro-blog became the macro-focus group, and social sentiment analysis quickly discovered how to understand the true intent of a tweet to correlate #IWANT without it being a formal action. Understanding “want” is a multibillion-dollar opportunity, as brands now have a direct trigger point to present a microtargeted offer.

Google turned the act of intent in search into a $180 billion business. Now businesses will ask and leverage:

  • Like versus Want?
  • What is the value of a Want?
  • How can I fulfill sales from #IWant?

The expected formal launch will catapult Facebook back into the leadership role of social intent, and could seriously threaten Google’s position on social search -- currently the world’s most tantalizing task-based medium to acquire actively seeking consumers.

What’s next: #INEED

As a marketer seeking to capitalize on matching product with desire, my value can be summarized in the measurability of turning "wants into needs," which alludes to the true Marketing Nirvana. As brands focus on building an arsenal of wants and retailers and media publishers add another button to their content and product pages, we must think another step ahead.

  • Will a “Need” button be right around the corner?
  • How will consumers react to openly publicizing a direct buying intent?
  • Will a “Need” badge also become a diluted medium with oversaturation?

Is sentiment the final answer?

We can all agree that the only thing inevitable is change -- and regardless of the communication medium, marketers will pin success on their ability to understand it to best present an offer. I also have to wonder if there will be a “hate” or “that’s stupid” button one day.

While badges and buttons will boom and fade, the underlying ability to distinguish emotion, passion and intent during a consumer’s unfiltered conversation is the end game -- and brings the focus back to truly understanding your customer so you can delight them.


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