I “Like” You, Just Not in That Way

One of Facebook’s most social, successful and least understood features is the “Like” button. What it means to you, what it means to me, and what it means to the people or organizations we like may be different things all together. Many businesses for example confuse the number of Likes on a brand page with size of a captive community or audience. As a result, community managers assume the role of social director and content publishers to keep its audience satisfied and entertained. Alas, a Like does not equal an opt-in. And it’s starting with this simple shift in perspective that will allow anyone with a brand page to not only more effectively engage and better serve its community but also build more meaningful relationships with customers.

In a recent study conducted by eMarketer, many marketers believe that a Facebook “like” is an endorsement of content. As you know there are at least two sides to every story and on the other side of a Like are people. When you ask Facebook users for the meaning of Like, they’ll give you different answers depending on the state of mind behind the click. In the eMarketer study however, people mostly use Likes to show loyalty.

The Loyalty Factor

Loyalty is an important pillar in earning and building relationships with customers. Businesses today understand the need for loyalty investments in traditional channels. According to loyalty marketing publisher COLLOQUY, customers belong to an average of 18 loyalty programs.  The value of points, coupons, and gifts to hold the attention of customers is significant. When we look at the overall experience of customers and their depth of interaction within these programs, we can learn how customer needs and expectations open the doors to new opportunities on Facebook and all of digital marketing for that matter.  What we’ll realize is that rewards are only part of the value proposition for keeping customers loyal. Delivering exceptional experiences will strengthen loyalty and also foster advocacy. As part of its study, eMarketer shared the top ways companies can build consumer loyalty.

  • Service: Providing exceptional 24/7-customer service ranked at the top of what people value most at 34%.
  • Rewards: Not surprisingly, 20% of customers want to be rewarded for purchases, providing feedback and also for sending referrals.
  • Exclusivity: I’ve seen this time and time again in reports related to loyalty as well as social media marketing. People, in this case 13%, want exclusive offers as incentive for staying connected.
  • Personalization: While this isn’t new, personalization is earning greater importance in an era of social media. There’s a “me” in social media after all! In the report, 12% feel that receiving personalized products and services is important. Another 10% desire businesses to know who they are when they visit or contact via phone, email, etc.

Engagement Fosters Trust

There’s an “R” in sCRM for a reason and it stands for relationships between people…between you and your customers. The “R” doesn’t just represent the relationship between employees, technology, and how they’re used to “manage” relationships with customers.

Loyalty programs are indeed important in holding customer attention and interest. But loyalty programs don’t in themselves promote trust or built other vital pillars in customer relationships. While Likes are a form of loyalty, it is how we engage with customers that fosters trust, affinity and more importantly influence ¾ the ability for customers to influence the decisions and impressions of their peers in Facebook, social media at large and in the real world.

Likes are a form of expression. And to get customers to keep liking you, compete for that like as if it is forever fleeting…because it is.

How do you interpret “Likes” in the social realm? How do they translate to value for your business?


Brian Solis is the author of the new book, The End of Business as Usual. He is also a principal analyst at Altimeter Group. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.

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