“Like” It or Leave It


Early last week Facebook changed the ever-popular “Become a Fan” button to “Like”. According to social networking giant, the change was made to “improve your experience and promote consistency across the site.” The “consistency” they’re referring to is the ability to “like” a friend’s status update, uploaded picture, comment on another friend’s wall, or advertisement on the site.

This is what the changes look like now, using the Johnson Direct “Like” page as an example:


While promoting consistency is almost always a good thing, Facebook’s change to their fan system has caused a great deal of headaches to agencies and end-users alike. Here are some reasons why the change may be a bad thing for business:

  1. Loss of a Branded Term- Prior to launching the Fan Box last July, nobody associated “Become a Fan” with an online entity. Being a fan was simply liking an artist, team, actor, etc. and being actively interested in what they were doing. When Facebook launched the Fan Box, they essentially branded the term and every television, radio, print, and online advertiser with a Fan page added that slogan to their copy.  Changing “Become a Fan” to “like” took away that everyday term from association with the social network.
  2. Frenzied Ad Agencies- Working on the ad agency side, I can only tell you in so many ways, without using NSFW terms, how it negatively impacts client campaigns. First there’s the past collateral- what happens to everything out there now that our clients paid good money for? This could be problematic; especially for the small company that doesn’t have money budgeted for print in Q1 or Q2. Ads that are currently in production need to be put on hold, and both the creative and the marketing teams need to go back to the drawing board increasing the amount of time and resources used by both parties.
  3. Confused End Users- People don’t like change, especially when it comes to how they use the internet. Every time a client comes to Johnson Direct for a redesign of their website, SEO consultation or anything dealing business-to-consumer marketing, we take a look at how it affects user experience. Having a product or website that brings value to the user is great, but if they get confused about how to use it you have a huge problem. In this case, changing “Become a Fan” to “like” may associate “liking” a status, photo or advertisement to “liking” a company, band or product when they are, according to Facebook, entirely different. For an example, take a look at this post about how a top-ranked ReadWriteWeb article confused users Googling “Facebook login”. I think I’ve made my point!

As time passes we’ll know for sure if this was a good or bad move on the part of Facebook. In the short term it will hurt the ad agencies and small companies with ads in the works but who knows- maybe we’ll make up for it with increased conversions from users mistakenly clicking on our Facebook ads because they thought they were “liking” the company!