Last night, while catching up on my reading, I came across an article about a company that is using QR codes as a tool for people to “Like” things. If you aren’t familiar with QR (“quick response”) codes, they are barcodes with an embedded URL. You snap a picture of the barcode with your camera phone and it sends you to the URL.
The technology is pretty cool, and there are many applications for it already in use, mainly in print, outdoor and POP advertising. But this new use for it, allowing people to Like an object, article, etc. via a QR code, got me wondering: how much Liking is really a good thing? As my co-workers and clients know, I’m still not a big “fan” of the change that Facebook made when it changed its terminology from “Become a Fan” to “Like” on Pages. We talk a lot about “low barriers of entry” for some of our clients, like The Clean Air Campaign, where we’re trying to get people to change their commuting habits. So I understand the reasoning behind the change. There is a certain mindset difference behind saying you “like” something as opposed to proclaiming that you are a fan.
So Facebook is just lowering the barrier of entry for more people to like more things – updates, comments, photos, videos, Pages, Questions, news articles, blogs – you name it, you can Like it. If you’re playing the numbers game, that should translate into more people Liking Pages – and give us, as marketers, higher numbers to report to our clients. But those numbers certainly don’t tell the whole story.
I’m concerned about the flip side to this – over-exposure and over-use of Like diluting the real impact of good social media marketing. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of things that I like. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m a fan too. I’m a huge fan of the Braves, but I might only like the Hawks. Now, according to Facebook (and all the places integrating Facebook Connect), they are both of equal value to me. And that’s just not accurate.
Glancing through my Facebook news stream, it seems many of my friends Like pretty much everything – from the mundane to the (some would say) ridiculous. Maybe I’m just a grump, but now, instead of Liking everything that I actually do like, I find myself getting much pickier about clicking that little thumbs-up symbol. Just a little bit, Facebook has taken the fun out of the word Like for me.
The fact is that I don’t like the Hawks as much as I like the Braves, so I won’t be Liking their Page because I don’t want to give them that equal status. Beyond the personal, as a marketer I wonder if the ability to Like everything will, in the end, be harmful to our social media marketing and our clients, as others besides me start to tune it out. That concern also means that I will be even more focused on providing real value and real reasons for people to engage with our clients’ brands (which isn’t a bad thing).
How about you? Has the proliferation of Liking succeeding in getting you to click more? Or are you Like me, and find yourself in just a bit of “unlike” with the word?