Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Discovering the Facebook Like Button

Harry Gold, CEO of Overdrive Interactive, gave a great guest lecture in my SMM class last week. The wide-ranging presentation was based on his Advanced Social Media Marketing seminar. I can’t do justice to the entire presentation, but there was one part that particularly struck me.

I’ve seen the Facebook Like button on web pages and thought, “Isn’t that cute?” Well it turns out that it’s a lot more than cute; it essentially makes a Facebook fan page out of every product to which it’s attached.

A recent study of brand-related Facebook behavior for Constant Contact by Chadwick Martin Bailey has stunning data. Here are some key factoids:
• 78% of people who like brands like fewer than 10, so they are engaged with those brands.
• They mostly read brands’ posts and newsfeeds.
• 51% of fans are more likely to buy the brand
• 56% are more likely to recommend the brand to a friend after becoming a fan.

As you might expect, 59% don’t interact with brands on the big social nets but 56% of people under 35 do, and it’s primarily on Facebook. Don’t ignore older demographics; they may be more loyal and more likely to purchase. Check it out for yourself.

The Facebook Like button for web pages has been around since March 2010 but some quick research says that many sites like retailers who target teens and young adults aren’t yet taking advantage of it. Levis is a brand that gets it. Here’s what you need to know.

First, you don’t put the Like button on a home page or a page with multiple product thumbnails. I suppose you could, but it would be meaningless because there are multiple items of content and the “likes” would be meaningless. Encourage viewers to like your brand; that is valuable as the CMB data shows. In the case of individual Like buttons, you want them to like a single product like the skinny jeans pictured. Now that jean product has its own fan page!

When a visitor likes the product is when the action begins. As Harry’s illustration shows, the user activity shows up on the Facebook News Feed of her friends, with detailed information about the product and a link back to the product detail page. That’s already great visibility, but there’s more! Now the marketer can easily message the likers. That goes to their News Feeds, thereby reaching their friends. That is huge! Inside Facebook says,

Millions of websites and social games have implemented Facebook’s Like button social plugin, yet relatively few are taking advantage of the capability to publish news feed stories to users that click buttons that represent real-world objects. That creates a lot of capacity to reach fans and friends of fans that marketers like Levis are beginning to use.

Surprise, surprise—there’s a privacy issue also! The tool allows Facebook to collect web browsing data for its likers; this WSJ article has a link to all the articles in their What They Know series, which is excellent. The collection of user data has come to the attention of the authorities in Germany where it has been declared illegal in one German state. Wonder who will be right about privacy concerns about Facebook in the end—Zuckerberg or Germany?

In case you were wondering, Google is following a similar path with its +1 button. That adds another tool, which shows up in a number of places including search rankings for friends identified on the user’s Google profile. Apparently if you want to it to go to one of your Google+ circles, you have to share it manually—for now at least.

Marketers may need to exercise some caution in communicating with likers. In particular, all the data seems to agree that you shouldn’t overwhelm even your best friends with posts. Make them relevant and control the frequency.

This is fascinating stuff! Many thanks to Harry Gold for bringing it to my attention!

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