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Facebook Gets Rid of Fans

Posted by | 11:37am on Friday, April 9, 2010

More important than someone simply “Liking” your brand page is having them interact and engage with that page.  

Facebook is changing again. This time the change involves asking users to connect to brands on the site in a different way. Rather than asking people to “Become a Fan” of their favorite brand pages, Facebook will instead let users click that they “Like” it. Pages will no longer gather “Fans” but “Connections” instead.

According to ClickZ, Facebook sent a memo to advertising agencies alerting them to the change. Since “Fanning” has become part of the vernacular I’m not sure why Facebook is messing with success. TechCrunch thinks it’s part of a bigger initiative to take over the concept of “Like” on the internet.

Not a Big Change
Only the name of the action is changing, not the action itself, so it really isn’t that big of a change.  And it shouldn’t impact brand pages. However, Facebook has said they do not plan to explicitly communicate about this change to users, so there will be some confusion.

As a Ragan article noted: “I find it ironic that while every other company/brand on the planet is bending over backward to engage with consumers and provide support across multiple platforms, Facebook, the biggest social media player of all, is infamous for its lack of responsiveness and/or customer support.” (Thanks to Angela Dunn for passing this along.)

I Dislike This Idea
Facebook users click on the current “Like” feature almost twice as often as they “Become a Fan”. The idea is that changing the word to “Like” will increase engagement with brand pages. I’m not sure this will work.  More important than someone simply “Liking” your brand page is having them interact and engage with that page. Have you created shareworthy content that your target audience finds of value? Are they reading your status updates, passing them along and contributing to the page? I think a small, truly engaged group on Facebook is more valuable to a brand than thousands of people who simply clicked “Like”.

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds over the next few months. What do you think?

This post was contributed by Eileen O’Brien, Director of Search & Innovation for Siren Interactive. You can connect with her on Twitter at @eileenobrien.

(Image courtesy of Moe on Flickr)

About Eileen O'Brien

Eileen has more than 16 years of digital healthcare marketing experience. She is an opinion leader on social media and biopharma, and has been invited to speak at industry conferences and quoted in publications.

View other posts from Eileen

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  • http://PhilBaumann.com Phil Baumann

    In the big scheme of things, I don’t think it will matter much.

    In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the ratio of Liking status items to Liking Pages remains about the same as it is today.

    (Perhaps this is the influence of the FriendFeed team? Who knows.)

    Now, if FB decided to switch out Fan for Love, then I’d be curious to see the ratio – after all being Loved takes a lot more than being Fanned.

    Most brands are probably just happy that their isn’t a Hate button. ;)

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  • Angela Dunn

    Great post, Eileen,

    It is disconcerting that Facebook still takes this position: “However, Facebook has said they do not plan to explicitly communicate about this change to users, so there will be some confusion.”

    Why force your customers into confusion? Facebook and Google did not “communicate” about privacy changes as well. It wasn’t until they got the benefit of the data from their new “default” settings that they said, “oops, sorry.”

    Brands that continue to be authentic with their customers will earn trust, and that is what wins in the long run.

    Will be interesting to follow!

    Thank you,


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  • http://allthingsgwen.com Gwen Recinto

    Thanks, Eileen!

    I HATE this change. I worked really hard to get 1500+ “fans” on my Fit Friends page by posting great content, being engaging and creating a motivating, causual – yet informative – brand.

    I feel that fan numbers say something. If the numbers start rising by tricking people into the “like” category, then that defeats the purpose. These people are not true “fans.” The numbers on a fan page indicate how strong the brand or company is … so the “like” button just inflates numbers.

    I’d love feedback on what I’ve said above… please lmk what you think!

  • http://twitter.com/eileenobrien Eileen


    Your personal experience is a good example of what I was trying to express. Thanks for agreeing!

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