Friday, April 30, 2010

What Value Does Facebook's "Like" Button Bring Us?

The other day, after reading an article on the Facebook "Like" button, I decided to add it to my blog. The amount of work required to execute the button was minimal. Within minutes, visitors were free to share blog posts with everyone.

Once in place, I started thinking about the real value of this button. Sure, it's cool and easy, but how does it bring value to me (and you)?

Clearly, anytime I click the "like" button, a notification gets dropped back on my Facebook profile. However, the announcement does little to promote the content. As far as I know, the only place it really ends up is in the easy to skip section called "Recent Activity" (see image).


I understand that Facebook rolled out other plugins, such as the "Activity Feed", "Recommendations", and "Like Box." These tools were intended to bring value by displaying what friends and visitors "Like" or "Recommend." Unfortunately, I do not see how these items benefit a small site with little traffic.

If we compare the Tweetmeme "Tweet" button against the Facebook "Like" button, I fully understand how the "Tweet" button can potentially bring more visitors. It starts by posting a "tweet" into the Twitter stream. Twitter followers can then click on the shortened URL and explore a story or site they may never have seen before.

Where is one alerted of a "Like" in Facebook? The answer is "Recent Activity" and that's not good enough because few, if any, will ever see it. Maybe if there was a place on Facebook, where most of my connections live, that grouped popular "Liked" stories shared by friends. For the big boys (CNN, YouTube, TechCrunch, New York Times, etc.), they have sites like LikeButton.me.

In reading Robert Scoble's article on "Why it is too late to regulate Facebook," I see the excitement building around Facebook's shift in power. As more companies adopt the "Like" button and related widgets, Facebook expands its brand and influence across the entire web. I have to ask, "What's in it for us, the little guys?"

Am I missing something? Do you see value in the "Like" button? If so, I would love to hear your thoughts. Let's talk about it in the comment section below.

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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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