Facebook Changes: A True Fan May “Like This Page”

Thumbs up says "I like!" on FacebookIf you've logged onto Facebook since April 21, 2010, you've likely noticed Facebook fans are a thing of the past.  Now, instead of becoming a fan, page visitors click the thumbs-up button to "like" a page.  The good news is this lighter-weight action could mean more connections for businesses – after all, it's easier to "like" something than to "love" it.  That having been said, some adjustments may be necessary for businesses to make the most of this change.

First, drop the word "fan."  If you ask website or blog readers to become a "fan on Facebook," it's time to update your language.  The official phrase Facebook uses is "like this page."  Unfortunately, there is no easy way to refer to the people who like your page as a group.  The word "likers" is gaining some momentum, but it is too early in the transition to know what the final word will be.

Next, be ready for bigger changes.  Facebook has more updates in store, including a universal like button and seamless integration of pages into the interests section of user profiles.  This could mean greater exposure for a company, but only if the page fits the new paradigm.  Pay special attention to your Facebook account over the next couple of weeks to make the most of the shift.

A word of caution.  "Liking" might be a lighter action, but it doesn't mean customers will suddenly start flooding your page.  An effective social media strategy, including Facebook,  focuses on building relationships, listening to customers, and expanding networks.  By providing useful content, responding to questions and concerns, and being your authentic self, you can continue to create true fans through your Facebook page, no matter what the button says.

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Maureen Carruthers is a nonprofit communications consultant and a graduate of Virgina Tech.  She writes about social media and other relationship-based marketing topics at Low Hanging Fruit.

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Comments

  1. This is really important stuff! What it means for users is further loss of privacy as all of their actions – where they go, what they read and click on can be viewable by their friends and businesses. As such functionality increases the personalization of the web, it also increases the permanent trail we leave behind.

    Simply put, both businesses and consumers need to understand the impact of it. Thanks Maureen!

  2. Thanks for the explanation, Maureen. It also underscores the point that internet marketing needs to be fluid and adaptable. One plan doesn’t fit all because everything changes.

  3. @Patrick–you make a good point about privacy concerns. There is a lot to be gained by being authentic and transparent on-line–and yet once info is out there it can’t be taken back. Always good to assume your mom, children, boss and competitors are reading everything you post.

    @Marsha–also a good point. It’s easy to focus one’s social media efforts on learning how to work the tools–but the tools change every 5 minutes. Better to learn the social part and be open and curious about what’s possible (now and in the future)

    Thank you both for your additions to the discussion!

  4. Maureen, thanks so much for decoding this new action on Facebook. It’s hard to keep up with all the changes there sometimes. And like you said, things change every 5 minutes. I really appreciate your very clear explanation.

  5. Birdy Diamond says:

    Decoding – what a great way to put it! It seems like you need a decoder ring to figure out this stuff these days.

    Thnx for providing such a ring for this topic! Because of this article, I now know to wait a few weeks before setting up our page, to let these changes settle out. This is a huge help as we deal with all the details of starting out.

  6. Thanks for your kind words Carole.

    Birdy–it may make sense to wait a bit for this set of changes to take effect–but don’t think things will stay the same over there. I’ve never seen a site more interested in shaking things up 🙂

  7. Just when I get used to Facebook, they up and change things on me… Ahh well, it’s the nature of the social beast 🙂

  8. Laroquod says:

    Don’t assume that people who were willing to ‘fan’ pages will also be willing to ‘like’ them if the results are more violative of their privacy. Changes like this are the beginning of the end for Facebook. IMO a smart marketer should have their finger on the pulse of the rapidly growing dissatisfaction in the Facebook community as well as all the boosterism. There will be a reckoning for all of this forced loss of privacy. And it will likely be paid in user neglect.

  9. Laroquod–Facebook’s reputation for respecting the wishes of its users in terms of privacy is certainly in jeopardy, and, as you point out, could be the site’s downfall. For now, I don’t think it makes sense for small businesses to forgo a presence on Facebook, but it’s certainly not a good basket for all of one’s social media eggs.

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