Most web pages that you visit nowadays contain a version of the Facebook Like Button.
Most web site owners assume that users know exactly what the like button is for, but what is it for? What exactly can be done with it?
In its most basic form, when a user likes a piece of content it appears on their Facebook Wall for all of their friends to see.
I suppose that the hope of web site owners is that the user’s friends will see this and then send users back to this piece of content. This concept is known as ‘Social Proof’ – where you are more likely to do something if one of your friends deems it ok to do so.
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_proof for more information on this.
So I can see why those who like to show off what they like to their friends would want to do this, but what about those users who are more passive in their consumption of media.
There is a rule that states that, with social media, 90% of passively consume media, 9% interact with content and 1% create the content. If we use YouTube as an example, that means that 90% of users watch videos, 9% comment on those videos and 1% actually upload the content.
If this is the case for the like button, only 9% or 10% of users actually use the like button. How do we engage with that 90% of passive internet users?
My suggestion would be looking to close the viral loop.
Closing the Viral Loop
I believe that users would be more likely to click the Facebook Like button if they knew what was going to happen and that they were going to get something in return from it.
Web site owners are asking users to be active on their pages, to help promote that content to users without asking for anything in return. This is a very lazy way to try to grow traffic.
What steps could be used to make the clicking of the Like button more attractive to users?
Firstly, box out the like button and tell them what it will do. ‘Do you like this story? if so, click the like button.’
If users are liking your site versus a piece of content and if they click like, they will receive updates straight to their Facebook news feed – tell them! This would appeal to their passive consumption.
‘By clicking the like button, you will receive content updates to your Facebook wall so you don’t need to keep checking back on our site.’
The Open Graph – closing the viral loop
This is where the most interesting bit comes into play.
If a site has been more sophisticated with their integration and also integrated the Open Graph at the article level, users could actually be liking a product, an actor, a musician etc.
If this is the case, then I believe that closing the viral loop becomes extremely important.
If a user is on a music news web site, such as www.nme.com, and they are on the Black Eyed Peas artist page – http://www.nme.com/artists/the-black-eyed-peas – and they click like, they should receive updates from NME every time that there is new content posted up about the Black Eyed Peas.
At the moment, there is no incentive to Like the Black Eyed Peas – not unless the user is just that passionate about the band.
There is also no call to action. Just a plain old tiny Like button.
If the like button had a call to action and had its content feed for Black Eyed Peas set up correctly, it would be much more appealing for users to click.
‘Click like to get updates from NME every time we post new content on the Black Eyed Peas’
This would be the same on all sites across the Internet and I would argue that this would result in many more users engaging with the Like button.