I like perfume. I like gummy bears and diet soda. I also like running, beaches, books, painting and fashion. And with each of my likes, there are preferred brands that I can easily attach. Philosophy's Falling in Love smells pretty decent. Haribo bears and alphabet gummy letters rock. Diet Dr. Pepper is delicious. Asics and Adidas both have shoes that have helped me cross a marathon finish line or two.
So what's wrong with "Liking" a brand on Facebook? Nothing, if you are like me and like a brand because, well, you really like a brand in the first place. The problem with "liking" any old brand for any old reason or for a specific reason in particular (say, in order to enter a contest or because you want to get a certain exclusive coupon) is that you are not really "liking" the brand. You are instead "liking" a behavior. So, in reality, you like coupons, not brands. Which means that you will likely never have a real relationship with a brand.
And why is that a problem? Because brands don't spend millions of dollars a year so that you can scratch your "coupon" need, but to gain your participation in a give and take consumer-brand relationship; they give you products you want and you give them your money. At the end of the day, it's about making a connection between your ad dollars and the register receipts. Which means that there needs to be a relationship between a person and a brand.
"Half the money I spent on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half," is not only a classic statement describing the state of advertising, but also totally true when applied to the digital sense (or cents). Credited to both John Wanamaker (1838-1922) and Lord Leverhulme (1851-1925) this famous quote rings true no matter how you apply the formula.
More recently I attended a panel discussion that featured mommy bloggers; giving them a voice to describe their patterns of behaviors and desires from brands when it comes to Facebook marketing, gaming and Twitter content. Seems they enjoy Facebook "liking" so much that -- according to the panel at least -- they often hit the cap of Facebook "Likes," meaning that for every new brand they like, they have to unlike one in order to make it happen. Hmmmmm. With a cap of 3,000 likes per consumer page, that means at any one time, a mommy panelist has 3,000 new status updates a day (if all pages post a new status every day.) At a minimum. I don't know about you, but I can't possibly "like" 3,000 things at any one time.
Which tells me that "Liking" a brand should not be a goal for Facebook marketing spend.
For more on this topic, please read B.L. Ochman's recent article, "Disturbing Trend: Big Brands Pimping Facebook Likes."
Don't get me started on how Facebook is now paying users to view ads. Just read about it hear and keep the comments to yourself. Ugh.