Four ways to survive the ‘death of the Facebook like’

I read a fascinating article yesterday in The Age that said that if Facebook Likes weren’t already out the door, they’ve at least got their hand on the door handle.

That generated a significant amount of online chatter – and among my clients – which revolved around the question ‘what is the point of Facebook Likes then?’

I read one comment that said ‘we’ve built our whole social media program around Facebook’.

And there, ladies and gentlemen, is your problem.  I’ve been saying for the past 6-7 years that the best way to approach social media is to use the tool for a specific reason, not just to embrace a social media platform with no thought as to why.

(I’ve also spoken to a few people who have smugly said, ‘See, I told you social media was dying’.  These are the same people who cheered when Facebook’s share price had its first down day and it’s a shame they’re making professional decisions with personal biases).

So, apart from panic (which was a common theme yesterday), what is the best way for your business to approach a threat that your Likes may be under threat and retain value in your social media?  I’d like to offer you four ways.

  1. Have an approach that is strategic.  Be clear of the reasons why you use social media. In my workshops and the 501 Great Social Media Ideas for Schools book, I make it very clear that we should use social media to build a community … and then find a tool to do that.  Or we should be using social media to build repeat business … and then finding a social media tool to do that.  Or we should be using social media to find new markets or engage with a different part of the community … and then find a tool to do that.  If it then turns out Facebook is the best tool to deliver on that outcome, that’s great … use Facebook.  But it also means you can be reactive enough to change stream if something threatening like this comes up.
  2. Put this article into context.  One of the problems with social media is it is often oversold and underestimated … sometimes in the same breath.  Social media is talked about in the extremes – it will either be the saviour or the death of us all.  The reality is it’s neither and, like alcohol consumption, should be viewed in moderation.  So are Facebook Likes dying?  Are they valueless?  Are they overvalued?  How does your business generate revenue (or cost savings) out of them?
  3. Prepare for inevitable changes.  Review your Facebook presence in light of how it’s actually contributing in real terms to your business.  This will help you understand what you’ll lose if things go pear-shaped.  Let’s be honest here – Facebook is doing what is best for Facebook.  They’re a listed company in a capitalist world and they need to find cheaper ways of doing things and more income streams.  If those ideas cut across what you’re doing, they’re not going to care.  Understanding that at an early stage can be helpful as you work out how any potential changes – not just Facebook – will impact you.  That will help you be prepared for any business changes based on facts, not feelings.
  4. Connect with your Likers beyond Facebook.  How are they plugged into your business and would that contact continue if Facebook were to pull the plug on their servers tomorrow morning?  If not, you may need to find at least one other way in which these customers or members of your social media community talk with you.  This will not only protect your relationship in light of changes to one social media platform, but it will also strengthen the relationship you have with them.

Things change in social media all the time.  Are you prepared for the bigger ones?

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