I’ve tried to remain impartial ever since Facebook got rid of the “Become a Fan” option and implemented the “Like” option, but it’s becoming exceedingly difficult. My official stance? I can see how this change positively affects the business/fan pages themselves (as well as Facebook), but I wish that I could become a fan again!
Unlike many people, I don’t just join random fan pages. I’ve always been selective and I never approve things like “Sleeping in on the third Tuesday morning of the month when it’s raining outside” or similar ridiculousness. What could those types of pages offer me via updates? Why would I need to become a fan of that other than to let my Facebook friends know that I like to sleep in on unnecessarily-specific dates? Every fan page I’ve joined actually means something to me, whether it’s an important cause or an actor whom I admire, and the fact that I became a fan of it means that I feel strongly about it one way or another. When Facebook replaced fandom with the word “like,” I was a bit confused; the two terms seem similar but they are not exactly interchangeable.
To me, saying that I “like” something doesn’t feel as powerful as saying that I’ve “become a fan” of something. It’s not as official. “John Doe likes St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital” doesn’t have quite the same authoritative stance as “John Doe became a fan of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.” I feel like Facebook weakened my support of organizations just with one little word! “Like” seems so wishy-washy and so…boring.
However, I think the “Like” button is better for the pages themselves. People are already used to hitting that button whenever they find a friend’s status humorous, so it’s just as easy for them to hit it when they see a page they want to support. This is especially beneficial to advertisers, because the ads along the side of your Facebook page all have a “Like” button under them now – and it’s much less threatening for someone to say they “like” a specific Facebook game or application than it is for them to “become a fan” of it. This increases the chances that new people will hit the button and show up as fans. Just as I prefer to become a fan because it sounds stronger, many people probably avoided it because it sounded too strong.
I’m not entirely sure why Facebook decided to make these changes, but I can’t help but see it as a branding attempt. Think about it: their decision instantly solidified people’s association with Facebook and the ”Like” button. They already had an option to like friends’ statuses, and it would sound a bit silly if they had changed that to “become a fan.” So, once they eliminated the oddball button, Facebook was able to keep things the same across the board and associate the “Like” button with their brand.
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