Facebook nuked the like button, now what?

Up until Tuesday the only people that could comment on or like content on a Facebook page were fans of that Page. Now Facebook eliminated that requirement, allowing anyone (fans and nonfans) the ability to engage with a Facebook Page.

The result of this change is that the importance of “liking” Pages has essentially been nuked – for both brands (who have over-focused on getting fans) and Facebook users.

Remain calm…

Facebook nuked the like button, now what?

Understandably, you are freaking out. But you’re also excited about this change!

You’re freaking out:

Because you’re worried about how to control conversations about your nonprofit. It’s like moderating Twitter without the ability to search. So you’re freaking out.

You’re also freaking out because maybe you were over focused on accumulating fans in the first place. And were shocked to learn that getting a new fan doesn’t mean you’ve earned a spot in their Newsfeed. So you’re freaking out.

But you’re excited:

Because this means that your Page updates could receive exponential attention. With the hurdle of “liking” a page removed, more people will engage with your Page stories!

You’re excited because for you it was always about engagement. It was never just a numbers game.

So what does this mean for Page admins?

  • Be interesting. Because Pages are now more open, it’s even more important that you have a content strategy that keeps people interested.
  • Listen. Because conversations about your nonprofit are harder to monitor, it means taking another look at using tools like socialmention test track of what people are saying.
  • Evolve. Stop posting updates just to boost your edgerank, and start creating deeper and broader discussions with Facebook users.

The good news

The good news is that 99% of communication and marketing professionals are too lazy and uninterested in having real discussions with their fans. So if you have a sincere commitment to do this, the competition will be few. Facebook nuked the like button, now what?

What do you think?

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  1. Hey John, can you comment briefly on what this means for cause marketing programs involving Facebook likes? Typically, businesses will donate a dollar or two for every like on a nonprofit’s page. Can these programs continue with the new Facebook changes?

    1. Joe – Those can continue, but the cause marketing strategy should also include ways to KEEP people interested once they like the Page. That said, now that Facebook users know that “liking” isn’t required to connect with brands, requiring it in a CM program *could* get some blowback from Facebook users.

      1. So essentially, John, the value of the like button on Facebook has been diminished (nuke makes great copy, but the button isn’t gone). It strikes me that these changes emphasizes the importance of nonprofits being great content producers. I always said that nonprofits should view their FB page as like running their own magazine. Now that users don’t have to “buy it” to read it the content needs to be even better.

        Thanks for the info, John. Will share your advice with readers on Monday!

  2. I think this is going to be really interesting for NPOs that have a controversial conversation going on. Take, for example, fracking or climate change. It could get really noisy with the potential for trollish behavior if it’s completely open. On the flip side, businesses targeted by NPOs [like what Greenpeace has done in the past] could be in for a handful, too.

    1. Jeff – Great points! I hear some orgs complaining that “Facebook has now made it harder to control what people say about an org”. The challenge is not one of control, but one of monitoring.

    1. Acquiring fans will still be important to any Facebook strategy. It’s just that you have to understand that the reasons for liking a Page have changed.

      I think that taking this requirement away will create greater awareness about a nonprofit, and allow them to gain value insight about “people on the fence” (I am interested in your org, but not enough to like your page – at least not yet…).

      For example, imagine if a blog requires that you create an in order to comment on posts (some do). For people who have a peripheral interest in the blog’s topic, requiring them to create an account essentially creates a firewall. They might still read articles, but won’t create an account. The only one who loses is the blogger. They’ve given up the opportunity to capture valuable insight about thousand of readers who *like the blog*, but just don’t like it enough to create an account.

      If the blogger decides to eliminate this hurdle and instead only require people to enter their email address when they comment, they’ll gain more readers and valuable insight that comes along with these comments.

      If we apply the social graph of Facebook to this scenario, we can see that eliminating the “like hurdle” allows Page owners to gain deeper and broader insight around how Facebook users engage with their nonprofit.

      I guarantee that Page Insights will soon display a second layer of active user data (demographics, interactions, and more of non-fans vs. fans).

  3. I just wonder how many non-profits have the time/$ to manage the circus that this could become. We’ve already had to turn off the ability of fans to post stuff on our page earlier this summer because our page had become a dumping ground for every crazy to vent their spleen regarding some issues that had developed around several of our affiliated organizations. They had no interest in learning the truth about the situation, and we couldn’t spend the time blocking inflammatory (and untrue) comments every minute of every day, so we had to shut them down. We still allow comments on our posts (which we carefully monitor), but no fresh material from our fans. This change makes it even less likely that we will be able to reinstate the ability of our fans to post material. Not excited.