Facebook Likes and Shares: What They Mean for Your Website

There is ongoing confusion about Facebook Likes versus Shares versus Recommendations. In a nutshell, Facebook simplified all this recently w
Forbes Contributor: Makers, Inventors, Small Business, Forbes
March 15, 2011

There is ongoing confusion about Facebook Likes versus Shares versus Recommendations. In a nutshell, Facebook simplified all this recently with a revamped Like button functionality that does what Share and Recommend did before.

 

A Facebook “Like” is a way to acknowledge the websites, videos, or other content that you find relevant and meaningful with your friends. Likes show up on your wall and sometimes your newsfeed. You can Like a Facebook page, but that mostly shows up on your Info tab under pages you Like.

 

In a long conversation thread with Facebook expert Mari Smith, dozens of people shared not only their opinions, but tests of how the new button is working. You can follow Mari’s thread here, and I should mention that she conducted a Facebook Marketing webinar recently that gave lots of tips on how to maximize your Facebook presence. Both worth a look.

 

Prior to the recent change, a "Like" was fairly low-key, just a short few words saying "TJ McCue Liked Small Business Trends..." That was it. It simply showed up under your wall status box with a link to that source. Now, it displays a full newsfeed story.  One of the challenges, as another Facebook expert, Mike Mueller, points out on his blog post, 3 Things I don’t Like about the new Facebook Like -- the Like button doesn’t let you select the thumbnail image that shows on your wall. The old share button did.

 

So, when you Like something, the image is selected by Facebook and it could pull in a random sidebar image from the site where you clicked Like, or it could be from the post itself. You won’t know until you visit your own wall and look.  That’s nerve-wracking for some folks.

 

The Like button is also seen widely outside of Facebook, on blog posts mainly, as a way for website owners to let friends and allies share content within Facebook. You have Likely seen the little icons for Twitter and Facebook as well as other social network easy-to-share functions.

 

What does Facebook Like Mean for Your Website?

 

Overall, most experts agree that the new “Like” button is going to be good for marketers. It means more traffic to your site, in most cases.

 

  • If a visitor comes to your site, and you have Facebook buttons available, when that individual Likes your content it shows up on that user's Facebook wall and has the potential to show up on other users’ walls. As it has been noted many times here, the simple "Like" can deliver loads of new users to your site from Facebook.
  • If you maintain a Facebook page for your business, and someone Likes it, you have now started a new relationship that gives you access to that person. If done right, you can nurture a new customer relationship. View your time on Facebook as investing in a media channel. Rather than spending time blogging only on your blog, post unique content to your Facebook Page and use that as a way to build Facebook Page Likes. You can also set your Like button to link directly to Liking your Facebook page instead of just the individual post. See the Mari Smith conversation noted and linked above. 
  • As a small biz owner who is sharing content via a Like button, you can “Like” something as a way to endorse it or spread the message. It will show up on your wall, but you can then go and delete the wall post, but let the “Like” vote tally still count for a site. Many people use Like as a metric of how well they are doing in social media. The number of “Likes” is equal to “votes” and thus an endorsement of your work or company.

To-do Item: If you have a Facebook Share button on your site now, it is still supported and will still work. However, Like appears to be the clear winner. You'll find that developer support has gone away for Share buttons. It is probably a good idea to shift to a Like button.  If you want to read the official notes from Facebook’s help area, you can do so here and here.

 

People have said that this new "Like" functionality will further clutter up the wall and newsfeed. Frankly, it is already cluttered, but relevant and good content will always stand out. That's why it is so important to slowly build a relationship versus just expect people to click your link. The Like button can help your business engage in direct conversation with prospects and customers. Remember, Like is combining Share and Recommend into one new function. 

 

Image courtesy of laughingsquid.

Forbes Contributor: Makers, Inventors, Small Business, Forbes