Facebook ‘Likes’ – a license to be pushy

So the new currency for the web is Facebook ‘Likes’. It seems as if brands and services are falling over themselves to get people to like them as if their lives – and livelihood – depended upon it.

But that’s no excuse to abandon the tried and trusted rules of engagement with your consumers.

Still, that’s what seems to be happening. Brands are demanding that you like them for no other reason than they are a ‘brand’. I thought the whole point was that you earned a friendship?

Dale Carnegie, author of ‘How to win friends and influence people‘, wrote the following back in 1936:

You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.

How relevant is that quote a full 75 years later?

I like CrazyBuzz! Not.

Today, a friend on Facebook shared a video on his wall: “Ronaldinho humiliates his teammate during warming up!” Being a football fan, I clicked through, hoping to see some piece of magical, mind-bogglingly good skill. Instead, I was greeted with this.

CrazyBuzz - Like this video

CrazyBuzz - Like this video. Errr, no thanks...

Excuse me? What? You want me to like you, even though this is the first time I’ve been to your site and I’ve never viewed any of your content? This is just wrong. Social Media doesn’t work this way and it constantly amazes me that people haven’t got to grips with this.

And this isn’t the only time I’ve experienced this. A few days ago I was contacted by a a well-known agency network – I won’t mention them by name in this case – who wanted me to like their new Facebook page. Again, there was no attempt to tell me why I should do this, or any invitation to sample the page to see if I thought it was of value to me. Instead they started their email by giving me instructions of how to create a Facebook account and ‘like’ their page. It’s a clumsy and heavy-handed approach, and could do real damage to the brand’s perception.

Changing our approach

Yes, there are precedents in Marketing practice. The tried and trusted method of offering whitepapers and other resources in return for supplying your details is still used today. But in a content-led web, the effectiveness of these ploys is questionable. It takes content with a high perceived value to generate the response, and even then we (as marketers) tend to offer freely available content prior to this point. In a digital world where Social Media is growing ever more dominant, organisations must adapt their approaches to be more sensitive to the needs of the consumer. They are now in charge of the conversation, and to earn their trust and their support you have to make it worth their while. Going back to Dale Carnegie, the way to gain ‘Likes’ is to show interest in them through providing meaningful and useful content.

Following my experience with Scribd, I had hoped that I’d be spared this kind of thing for a while, but it seems not. We still have a long way to go, and I’m sure there will be many mistakes along the way. But they are avoidable mistakes and some simple preparation and reading will arm organisations against them. After all, it’s not as if you need an expert…

Have you had any similar experiences? I’d be interested in hearing about them.