Why Facebook opts for “like”, drops “become a fan” terminology

If you’re a regular Facebook user, you’d have probably noticed that Facebook recently trashed it’s “become a fan” language and opted for a more generic “like” feature for it’s branded pages.

In a way, this seems a more intuitive way of connecting to brands you “like” not necessarily a “fan” of. Becoming a fan does seem to imply an intimate connection with the brand which requires more user commitment. This is detrimental to marketing a brand, since users that brands wish to be influencing and converting need to be engaged before “becoming a fan” to begin with. Facebook’s decision to transition this language to “like” a brand attempts to fix this problem.

Here’s the document explaining the change:

But, is that the real reason Facebook has made the decision? I argue not!
Facebook says that users click the “like” button almost twice as much as they click the “become a fan” button. In real terms, Facebook is trying to boost the number of connections users have to brands.

What’s the reason for this? Revenue!
Most Facebook pages gain their user connections through Facebook advertising. So essentially, Facebook is endeavouring to double their revenue from brand advertisements with a simple terminology tweak.

They claim that liking a brand is a much more natural option that will streamline the site, but as Julian Cole contends on his Adspace Pioneers blog, it may actually create more confusion as to which Facebook adverts are for Facebook branded pages, and which are for external websites.

What do you think? Do you “like” Facebook’s new terminology?

8 Replies to “Why Facebook opts for “like”, drops “become a fan” terminology”

  1. @Tim Churchward


    It will just make more people join them (and suggest them to you) since “liking” the pages requires less user commitment than “becoming a fan”.

  2. True. Well the recent cap on how many groups and pages people can join seems to be working well.

    It's a bit sad that in Facebook's rules they clearly state that pages must be for products and companies, etc. not just opinions and similar, and that breaking this is a banable offense, yet they don't seem to stick to it.

    Liking pages makes more sense and its more consistent with the rest of the site. I look forward to the new features Zuck announced at f8 about the cross-site features.

  3. I don't think the change to “like” is anywhere near as simple as all of this.

    Facebook launched Open Graph last week at F8, that is what the universal like button is all about.

    Yep they want more interaction, it's about populating the Open Graph database and increasing the rate at which it permeates FB throughout the web.

    FB have made a massive play to extend their presence far, far, far beyond their own site. In ridiculously geeky terms, they are trying to become the matrix.

    Biggest thing to happen to the web since Google IMHO. And very exciting for marketers.

    If you haven't seen http://levis.com check it out. It's currently the best integration of Open Graph out there. Jaw-dropping online retail experience.

  4. @Lachyw

    I agree to an extent, my original post was a somewhat basic analysis of Facebook's update. I was assessing their ability as to how monetisable their new features could be (which I am still in doubt of… See below).

    Levis have integrated Open Graph quite well throughout their product sites. This should give them more social interaction on their site & some free WOM. Good for Levis.

    I do see some interesting & exciting things happening with Facebook's Open Graph platform. They really are trying to take over the internet! However, I don't see how this is advantageous for Facebook. How can THEY monetise this? Maybe it will be integrated with Facebook cash tokens at some stage… Hmmm…

    P.S. What is Google IMHO?

  5. Hahaha, IMHO means “in my honest opinion”. Sorry, just funny coz my boss asked me that exact same question the other day.

    There is a jaw-dropping amount of money in this for facebook.

    What they have done is made search peer based (or recommendation based… i.e. you're on this site, and based on your social graph, we recommend you check out brand XYZ)

    Just like you see Google AdWords everywhere these days, expect to start seeing Facebook ads throughout the web in the near future. Using the insane amount of data that Open Graph will be gathering about you to feed you highly targeted ads based on your personal social graph.

    So you're on The Age website (which for arguments sake has this hypothetical FB ad box in the RH sidebar) and you're checking out a review of Iron Man 2… bang, “Adam, 5 of your friends like Iron Man 2, it's showing at Village Cinemas tonight @ 8:30 click here to get a free popcorn when you see it” links you off to a page where you give your mobile number, etc etc.

    It's all in the data and meta data they will be gathering. They'll be sitting on a fortune.

  6. @LachyW

    Sure, so in the context of “Google IMHO”, it means what exactly…?

    I do like where you're going with this. There are some very exciting times ahead!

    And I TOTALLY agree with your final sentiment. Facebook are sitting on a gold mine! What bemuses me though, is that with all of the meta-data they have about their users, they have STILL resorted to targeted ads (like Google AdWords)! Can't there be another (better) way to monetise the mass of data they've collected!?!

  7. Hey bro, a few weeks ago I wrote a brief-ish piece about the launch of Open Graph. Opening para explains the reference/comparison to Google (sort of).


    Well there are probably lots of 'behind-the-scenes' ways that FB could (and perhaps intend to) monetize that data. I'm thinking consulting and customised research/reporting.

    And look at Google, sure AdWords is their cash cow, but it is far from their only revenue stream. They innovate – monetize that innovation – in about a bazillion different (and often very private) ways.

    My brain is a bit too mushy right now (waiting for the coffee to kick in) to speculate more specifically on what FB will do other than just make web advertising considerably more awesome. But then that's a pretty good point in itself. Advertising isn't ever going to go away. FB have now made it (potentially) a LOT more relevant.

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