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The value of a ‘like’

Today I had the uber privilege of joining some of the coolest social media people in Adelaide on stage for Marketing Week 2012 to debate some tricky topics.

Team #HelloTwakky (Michelle Prak, Tom Williamson and myself) had the tough job of taking on the formidable (CJ Podcast crew, Sarah Thomas, Jason Neave and Mal Chia). After the coin toss, it was my job to argue the negative of “Likes don’t matter” and in an effort to make a bit more sense of my ramblings on stage, here are my expanded notes on why likes mean everything.

The humble like. It’s the four letter word that that keeps the social media world spinning, it’s the elixir of online engagement that sends a shiver of achievement down the spine of online community managers around the world.

All it takes is a simple click, a casual touch and suddenly your brand, your business, your organisation is granted access to a world of hyper connected networks of friends, interwoven communities and conversations that seemingly break through the traditional barriers of time and space.

The like, dear marketers, is the single most important data point in social media. We need likes in the same way that a growing, thriving garden needs the sun as we turn our efforts towards its golden glow.

In its majesty, it’s quite simple. Social media doesn’t work without likes.

Likes connect us to our community. To be granted any safe passage into someone’s social media experience, we need them to take that first small step. We need them to hit that like button or click follow so that we can navigate our way to the very heart of their social media experience, their news feed.

Yes, we could pay to advertise and force ourselves into their space but we run the risk of being that guy at the party that just shows up uninvited and jumps into any conversation he sees fit and starts talking about himself – and what makes it worse is that he’s showing up with a product to sell.

No, we want to be invited willingly to the party, to have the door opened to us and for a personal introduction to all their friends.

Ah yes, that introduction.

It’s been said many times before that social media is like word of mouth on steroids, or as I like to think about it, social media’s like word of mouth turned up to eleven because the party’s rocking, the music’s thumping and all of our friends are here.

At no other time in history have we so easily been able to have conversations with the people who matter to us. When our friends tell stories on social media, we listen. We comment, we mention, we share, we like.

But for us, as marketers, the beauty of this is when people talk about us, share our content and put us front and centre at the party with their friends if they don’t like us first, how are they going to see that content to share?

To see the potential of these personal networks, we only need to look at Facebook’s Graph Search. Let’s not kid ourselves, the amount of data that Facebook has on each of us is staggering. We can perform searches now that will uncover terms such as “friends of friends who work near me” or “People I may know who live in Adelaide, South Australia and like Social media.” It can be extremely eye-opening.

While we’re on the subject of Facebook, let’s not forget that those likes on each of your posts are like manna sent from heaven. They give your post life in the great cosmos of Facebook posts and increase the liklihood that the post you took so long to craft will actually appear on someone’s newsfeed. On Twitter, it’s that retweet that sends your status update you posted yesterday back into the game. A new lease on life, another moment of relevancy and another network reached.

Not only that, but those little points of feedback tell us that we’re on the right track. It whispers in our ears that the content we’re posting is meaningful – and therefore our connection with our community is meaningful. It’s the hat tip, the “right on”, the high five of the Internet.

Likes, my friends. They’re just the beginning. They’re the first footstep into the wonderful world of social media.

[box type=note]A huge thanks goes to the awesome Rubina Carlson who MC’d the session and to everyone who tweeted along! I also have some notes for the affirmative. If you’re interested in a follow up post, leave a comment below! Photo thanks to Prakky[/box]

2 thoughts on “The value of a ‘like’”

  1. I loved the session yesterday. It was a great debate and good to see you all argung sides that you wouldn’t normally advocate for. I agree the like is the first step, then it is about creating content that will engage with your followers.

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