Facebook Goes from Fan to Like

By Erik Qualman

facebook become a fanIn a recent decision, Facebook users will no longer be able to click a “Become a Fan” button for a page or brand, rather they will click “like” button for a brand or page.  My opinion is that there are 3 reasons for this change:

1. Increased consistency and simplicity of Facebook terminology for its users.

2. Facebook has determined that “like” is more clicked on than “become a fan” of this page or brand.  This is important because once Facebook launched the capability for advertisers to include a clickable button on their paid Facebook ads stating “become a fan” and that this button was also trackable for the client; Facebook paid ads are often judged on how many fans they receive for how much money was being spent.  Obviously it’s in Facebook’s best interest for ads to perform well, so if the barrier to clicking is mitigated by switching to “like” than it makes monetary sense for Facebook to do so.

3. Facebook is ready to launch the capability for users to click the “like” button when they aren’t on Facebook.  In other words if you are on www.gm.com or www.snickers.com you can click a button indicating that you “like” the page.  This helps expand Facebook’s influence beyond www.facebook.com and is also helpful to the user.

There are some distinct benefits in the above list and as a whole it’s the right move.  However, one thing that I will miss, as David Berkowitz astutely points out, is that it is nice for companies to have a sense to who their true fans/loyal customers are.  Although only a slight semantic change, “like” reduces the barrier to entry.  Just think about your current behavior on status updates, isn’t it much easier to click “like” on a status update?  So, we should see an increase in the amount of people that “like” a brand/product/movie/church/etc. but it was nice that at one point in time we knew who the hardcore fans really were.  What do you think?

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19 responses to “Facebook Goes from Fan to Like

  1. There is a big difference between Liking something or someone, and being a Fan. You would think that Facebook would know this…

  2. I read this book for a school project and since then I’ve decided to see for myself the power of Faceook. I wasn’t aware of the small differeces between “become a fan” and “like” until, this morning. I got a mail from a site I visit sometimes saying that Facebook has changed “became a fan”to just “like”. The question that I’m facing right now is this : I liked the site before , but couldn’t decide if I should be a FAN. Now that I have the “like” button , doesn’t that equal the FAN one? I “like” it but it’s not a “like -like” thing. Just “like”. Hmmm ..

    Another thing that seems interesting is that by having only the “like” choice, as a user, you can chose something without really taking responsability for your choice. Let’s say that I’m an accountant and I happen to like heavy metal rock and I work in a more “traditional” company – my boss thinks rokers are Satan. Now, if some of my friends on Facebook -work friends will see that I am a “FAN” of “Lucifer’s Friend” won’t THAT raise a few questions.. But if I just happen to “like” it , I’m more o the “safe” side. So, by having the “like” option as te only one available maybe Facebook was giving a hand to its users so that they can be both “preventive” and “braggadocian” in their on-line behaviour .

  3. I wish “Become A Fan” would return, as there is an entirely different decision with clicking that button than with simply clicking “Like”.

    Bad Facebook! 🙂

  4. Interesting post. In my opinion “Like” doesn’t necessarily shows your loyalty towards something. I don’t like “Fan” as well actually. I don’t consider myself a fan of a brand or company, I would it use more in association with music bands. There should be something in between which can show your true loyalty towards a brand or company, like “Favourite”.

  5. Consumers who “Like” or “Become a Fan” represent distinctly different profiling. A consumer may “like” a product but not necessarily enough to “become a fan”. Without this differentiated profiling, businesses will find it more difficult to finetune their marketing activities to drive more effective call to actions and sales through the funnel. All for the distinction between the 2.

  6. Any idea what the effect will be for the fan pages? Will it still provide the same way for businesses to communicate with the “like”ers as it had with it’s fans?

  7. It´s fascinating. I´m sure there´s been much toil in FB HQ over it, but not without reason would they change it. I´m curious how this pans out in other languages also. In some respects the use of “fan” in english is more ardent than merely like, which may resonate with the lighter internet users or those unfamiliar with online lexicon. FB is always looking to grow , and doesn´t show a great deal of regard for the likes of those that post on blogs at ungodly hours.

  8. I think the two should remain separate entities. “Like” should be for statuses and “Become a fan” for fan pages. It makes sense! It’s a fan page so it should acquire fans, not just people who like the page. Everytime Facebook makes a change, people get confused and generally don’t like the switch at first. Why is it necessary to make another change when the current system works just fine?

  9. I’m definitely a fan of “Become a Fan” but I also like “like.”

    Okay, I had to.

  10. I prefer Become a Fan too… it seems stronger. It is certainly easier to market “Become a Fan” of this page … now, we will have to say “Like our Page!” Huh? As marketers we will have to put some thought into this one…

  11. As Barb said, the question is if the user who “likes” the brand page will be able to get the updates and interact with the brand at the same level as the “fans” do right now. I think it will, because organizations are a big interest for facebook as they are the ones who paid for the ads and it would be a huge mistake to reduce the value for them.
    Also, as everybody says, becoming a fan involves a higher level of cominment with the brand than just “like’n” it.
    Anyway, if it goes bad for brands i’m sure facebook just will “undo” this change or add the both options.

  12. I don’t LIKE it … For me to like something is to show a mild interest vs. Loving it! To be a Fan of something indicates a stronger feeling, one of loyalty. I want FANS of my organizations, not someone who just ‘likes’ it.

  13. My question is on the communications side–Will people who indicate they like a page see updates from that page the way fans currently do? If not, the value to businesses and brands goes w-a-a-y down.

    Will we get stats on how many people indicated they liked our page? I suppose a die-hard fan could come back and like you every day (feelin’ the love!) but how many are really going to do that?

    I’d prefer to have both options available for a while to see how people respond and want to know more about the stats side.


  14. That’s an interesting and bold move from Facebook considering the amount of people used to the fan idiom. Let’s see how it will get received by the community!

  15. As most of people here, I prefer to “become a fan” because it shows stronger relationship brand/user. I may “like” a brand, but that doesn’t mean I want to follow their activity, whereas if I’m a fan I might.

    What they should do is add the “I don’t like” button for status updates, or change the “like” for “interesting” (not always the same, specially talking about media posting news)

  16. I “like” being a fan as it shows a higher level of commitment and endorsement of a FB page.

    It will be interesting to see how this switch to “like” plays out for Facebook users. Will the FB user still be listed as “Fans” on the page and will the user realize that by clicking “like” they have indeed become a fan?

  17. I think that they should keep the differential. You might like something, but to be a fan of something is a whole different level. I like pizza, but not exclusively, whereas my iPhone… I love that bit of kit and don’t want to use anything else. A completely different level of “like”.

  18. I can see why it would be nice to determine who your die-hards are (although you’d think that responsiveness to offers and participation could indicate that?), but I agree that it’s less of a barrier. I am VERY picky about what I’ll be a “fan” of, but being able to “like” things mean way more companies may end up knowing who I am than if I had to be a “fan” of them.

  19. I prefer the idea of “Become a Fan” than liking things. The main reason being is that becoming a fan has a certain level of responsibility.

    Liking something says, ‘this is a product or service that I enjoy enough to spend 2 seconds clicking like,’ wheras becoming a fan says, ‘I enjoy this product or service enough to commit to becoming a Facebook brand ambassador.’

    Just my thought really, but becoming a fan seems to have a different level of sincerity and responsibility.

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