I Like you. I just don’t Fan you.

Facebook recently unveiled a variety of new features. Among the changes was a subtle but important shift in the way Facebook lets users express their affinity for a brand. Prior to the update, users clicked the “Become a Fan” button in order to connect their Facebook profile to a brand’s page. That button has now been replaced by a “Like” button. Here’s what Facebook says about the change on their consumer-facing information page: “We believe this change offers you a more light-weight and standard way to connect with people, things and topics in which you are interested.”

If the change from “Fan” to “Like” is intended to make things easier for users, what does the shift mean to brands? Is this an opportunity for deeper or wider engagement? Or is it a harmful modification to the existing system?

Why this matters

Facebook assumes that consumers feel much more comfortable liking a brand than they are declaring themselves brand fanatics. In some ways this goes to the heart of the brand/consumer relationship, which is frequently a tumultuous and uneven affair. Brands hope for long-term consumer commitment. On the other hand, consumers are fickle – “brand loyalty” is more often “brand that I’m loyal to, so long as I’m not swayed toward a competitor’s offering for any one of an almost nearly infinite list of reasons.” Continue reading “I Like you. I just don’t Fan you.”