What is language when it comes to branding? Sometimes it can be everything. Other times, it can be confusing. In the case of Facebook and all the brands that market through its social network, language can be all of the above. Facebook has announced plans to change the language of “Become a Fan” to “Like” as it appears on brands’ public profile pages, hoping to encourage more interaction between individual users and those brands.
What Facebook is after, according to their spokesperson, is a more consistent interaction between users and public profile pages. As PCWorld points out, the difference between “Become a Fan” and “Like” should mean different actions all together, but in this case it’s simply a switch in terminology. What I’m wondering, is when Facebook will merely let users “follow” a public brand without having to be a fan or like them. When will I be able to keep up with a brand on Facebook, without whole-heatedly committing my subjective stance towards that brand one way or another?
As being a fan and liking something are already two different concepts on Facebook, the replacing of “Become a Fan” with “Like” is almost a trick. If users think that liking something will result in specific updates to the individual item that they “liked” (i.e. a photo or a post), then “liking” a brand may lead some users to believe they’re taking a different action than “becoming a fan” as the action pertains to the brand.
Creating a brand presence on Facebook is a good way to market to a wide range of users, and getting those users to interact with your brand is even better. Facebook has been toying around with several ways in which brands can better organize themselves around the existing actions of its users, though this may not be as fully developed as either Facebook or participating brands would have hoped.
In the constant evolution of social networking, we’ll see an increasing number of options for both brands and users towards interaction. As far as Facebook is concerned, things could be a lot easier if interactions with brands weren’t always made so public. Sure, there are settings for not sharing the act of becoming a fan with the rest of your Facebook network, but that’s not really what Facebook or brands want. The act of sharing those actions with your social graph on Facebook is what helps encourage the socially-driven interactivity that brings friends to your brand as well.
Instead of changing the terminology, I think Facebook should change the options users have for dealing with a brand’s presence on the social networking site. Making it easier to remotely follow the content shared by brands’ public profiles can in many ways encourage users to interact more, if they can choose how and when to be social or private with those interactions.
Creating more settings around the private and public interactions with brands is what everyone wants, ultimately. At least in my opinion. Brands that are on Facebook are looking to develop more personal relationships with individual users, tying brand recognition and loyalty into the social interactions that person has with its brand and with others. Developing the relationships between individuals and brands in this way can be of benefit to all parties involved.
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