New York - Facebook is about to change the way it asks its users to connect to brands on the site. Instead of asking people to "become a fan" of companies such as Starbucks, Facebook will let them click on a button that indicates they "like" the brand.
Facebook already lets people show that they like comments or pictures posted on the site, and it says users click that term almost twice as much as they click "become a fan". Facebook says changing the button will make them more comfortable with linking up with a brand.
Facebook had no immediate comment about the move on Tuesday, but a memo from the company to advertisers about the change has been widely circulated online.
Businesses use Facebook pages, which are free to create, to connect with their customers and promote their brands. Facebook makes money from the advertisements these companies often use to draw users to their pages. The average user becomes a fan of four pages each month, according to Facebook.
"The idea of liking a brand is a much more natural action than (becoming a fan) of a brand," said Michael Lazerow, CEO of Buddy Media, which helps companies establish their brands and advertise on social networks such as Facebook. "In many ways it's a lower threshold."
But while it might seem to be less of a commitment to declare that you "like" say, Coca-Cola than to announce you are a fan of it, the meaning essentially would stay the same: Your Facebook friends would see that you clicked that you "like" a page, and such pages would still be listed on your Facebook profile for anyone to see.
Facebook did not say whether the change will apply to all pages, such as those for celebrities or musicians - where the term "fan" is still appropriate - or just brands.
The world's largest online social network is known for constantly tweaking the way users experience the site. This often draws loud complaints, but Facebook continues to draw millions of new fans. More than half of its 400 million users log in every day.
I had a very strange experience today. It was a warm winter’s day, and we had a fire going outside. Glass of wine in hand, I was fiddling around with my iPhone (as one does — usually to one’s wife’s discontent) — specifically a cult favourite app of mine: Mood Agent.
As I launched the app, it popped up a message telling me that I needed to uninstall and reinstall to “see all new features”. Mmmm. A bit of a pain in the ass.
I like the app, so I dutifully plugged in, uninstalled and reinstalled. At which stage, I noticed that the app icon had changed to say: Mood Agent FREE. Anyone who has any experience with the Apple App Store knows exactly what that means:
This is a feature hampered version. Like the shareware model, but with more tease. There’s a better version waiting out there, for some cash.
Now here’s the interesting bit of the user experience. Firstly, the app caused me some hassle with a reinstall. I don’t know why, and frankly I don’t care. That’s the beauty of being a user, you don’t have to. Secondly, I found out that my app was the free version. Now to be honest, I can’t really remember whether I paid for it in the first place. But I think I did. And as a consumer, that’s all I need to know. I think I paid for it. And now what I paid for is free. And now I need to pay more to get the full package.
Then a strange thing happened.
I liked the app. For those who haven’t heard of it, Mood Agent is a playlist creator for the iPhone. Its claim-to-fame is to give the user five sliders: sensual, tender, happy, tempo and aggression. You slide these around to match your current mood and it picks a profiled set of songs to match. It’s pretty good. And the playlists are always different to that of the built in Genius function of iTunes.
So I liked the app. Yes. And I’d had a pleasurable experience with the dev team when I’d tweeted about it once a while back. They were friendly, responsive… And I know there are many people out there who make a living creating applications for niche audiences.
So I bought the new app. To say thank you.
Take a dramatic pause here ladies and gents. That’s a BIG cultural shift. I may be a sentimental early adopter, but that was a very specific piece of consumer behaviour that just unearthed itself. And I have a funny feeling it’s not just me that’s experiencing it. Commercial platforms like Apple’s app store have made it so easy to “vote with your mouse click”. In the past, that meant “giving a nod” or sending some traffic. Today, it means $4.99.
The internet is the most amazing platform for niche content creators. It not only has an extremely low cost of entry, but it also allows you to find your niche audience, reach them and monetise them.
The chaps at Mood Agent probably aren’t multimillionaires by now. But they made a cool app. And they got a thank you, from me. With a couple billion internet users, how many thank yous do you need to make a business?
Gary Vaynerchuk’s next book is about the Thank You Economy. While he’s a bit lucky to be the right person at the right time with the right amount of passion and the right amount of seriously hard work — he does have a knack of predicting things. If he’s on this bandwagon — so am I.