Alex Steer

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Facebook 'likes' and dubious approval

425 words | ~2 min

I was a bit confused by this paragraph from Rohit Bhargava over at the Influential Marketing Blog:

Fast forward several years and you will really appreciate this stunning statistic - the "Like button" is clicked a total of 91 million times every month. And many of those clicks are for brand sponsored pages. Earlier this week I was lucky enough to be invited to attend and speak at Intel's internal conference focused on social media. More than 125 social media pioneers from within Intel came from around the world to participate, and one of the speakers was Aimee Westbrook from Facebook. Among the many interesting facts about brands working with Facebook that she shared was this data point which should make any marketer sit up in their chair: 50% of all the people on Facebook have clicked the "Like" button on a brand page in the last 30 days.

So how does that work? Facebook has over 750 million active users according to today's statistics page. For 50% of all users to have liked a brand page in the last 30 days would take 375 million likes just for brand pages; earlier in the same paragraph the total number of likes per month, for everything, is 91 million. Does anybody know something I don't about these numbers?

Sounds like we marketing types may just be fooling ourselves.

But even if we weren't fooling ourselves about the numbers, would we be fooling ourselves with the analysis? Much as planners, creatives, brand managers etc. like to be liked (and 'liked'), I'm dubious about how much love - let alone intent - is conveyed with a click of the 'like' button.

Bear in mind that likes show up in your news feed - and, more importantly, in your friends' news feeds. Liking something (anything) can be a way of signalling something to those third parties whose social validation you crave, not just the person or brand whose thing you liked. In other words, if someone likes your brand, they may not be trying to tell you something - they may be trying to impress something else.

In itself, this can be very powerful. If people use your brand as a way of signalling something to third parties, you want to know what that is. But just patting yourself on the back and feeling loved won't help you work out your role, and how to make the most of it.

# Alex Steer (17/07/2011)