The Future of the Facebook ‘Like’: Dead or Alive?


Facebook Like
Source: Sean MacEntee via Flickr Creative Commons

To the usual Facebook user, a ‘like’ simply implies being a fan of someone or something, a button to represent the individual preferences of people. But, to those involved in digital and social media marketing, a ‘like’ means so much more.

Although there has been little to no change on Facebook’s ‘like’ system, the quick and widespread integration of social media to day-to-day activities of consumers have transformed it into a new avenue for branding, consumer interaction, and business processes.

The value of being a ‘fan’

There has been a lot of variation when putting a numeric value to a Facebook like. The 2013 Syncapse research said that one like is equivalent to $174 to a brand. Along with research company Hotspex, Snycapse asked over 2,000 panelists from the United States to compare Facebook fans and non-fans based on several factors to arrive at the value. These factors included spending on brands, loyalty, likeliness to recommend, media value, and brand affinity.

The value is not constant. Depending on the brand, each like costs within a range of around $70 for Coca-cola to a tremendous amount of $405 for fashion brand Zara. This number depends on the higher purchase price of its products.

In simple terms, likes are increasing a customer base, which can be linked to increased loyalty. Facebook users who have decided to subscribe to a brand page are also the ones who are most likely to market using word of mouth. They are more active on social media, compared to non-fans who as less likely to follow any brand. Two out of three fans are likely to share updates and promos by companies with their friends as well.

But, this finding was done last year, and social media evolves, so rapidly that a ‘like’ might just not be worth the same as it was one year ago.

Has Facebook marketing been duped?

Interestingly, a new video created by science channel Veritasium explained in entertaining detail how click farms have been making Facebook advertising and marketing a risky mess. Click farms, to the uninitiated, are located in third world countries whose only job is to ‘sell’ likes through fake accounts. Widespread on nations like Bangladesh, India, and Indonesia, they have interestingly managed to balloon the ‘fans’ of many top tier brands and celebrities, thus skewing the accurate monetary values of likes.

For example, Facebook fans of Apple Inc. and Google’s pages both have the similar city of origin – Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. Because these fake accounts make up a lot of the total population of ‘fans’, companies have an inaccurate bird’s eye view on how their brand is doing on social and digital media. Facebook has become an unreliable source of data, especially when it comes to comparison against competitors.

“Wherever you’re targeting, advertising on Facebook is a waste of money,” commented Miller.

So, what is the future of marketing on Facebook? Have click farms and click bots managed to depreciate the value of a ‘like’ from hundreds of dollars per user to virtually zero?

The future of Facebook marketing

Since the social media phenomenon will not end anytime soon, Facebook will remain a gold mine. “When companies and organizations utilize the widespread use of social media effectively, the results can be phenomenal,” advised Wise Marketing on social media practices. “You engage with customers, speak to potential new ones, use different creative methods to pull in interest and can control your image online at relatively low cost,” said Wise.

Brafton, a digital marketing firm, reported that around 9% of all traffic goes to Facebook. “Generating a strong presence on Facebook has become a competitive necessity for marketers as Facebook use continues to grow,” said the agency.

However, unless Mark Zuckerberg addresses the negative activities of click farms and fraudulent activity, brands and enterprises will only be able to scratch the surface. Advancements in algorithms, as hinted in the past by Facebook themselves, targeted advertising, fully defined career paths and specializations on digital and social marketing for corporations – these are some of the things that we’d expect in the soonest future.

What are your thoughts on Facebook ‘likes’? Do you agree that this is potentially valuable, yet risky?


About the Author

Jennifer Birch has always been fascinated with the power of social media. She has been followings all the recent studies, data, predictions, and outcomes related to utilizing social media in education and business. You may talk to her about social networks (Twitter and Google Plus).

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Digital Media Marketer, Old school New score, what does that mean? Helping your brand get found online! Keynote Speaker. Social Media Consultant and Strategist. Exploring and Sharing ways that Creative Professionals can leverage the Web