Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Facebook Waves Off “Fan,” Gives “Like” a Thumbs Up

Goodbye “fan.” Hello “like.”

That’s the message Facebook is passing along to its advertisers today. In a move that’s both minor and telling, the social network is replacing its “fan” buttons with “like” buttons on ads that direct users to big brands’ “fan pages.”

“Fan pages” are an increasingly big part of Facebook’s business. They’re in many ways a throwback to the branded sites AOL (AOL) set up in its heyday, giving the brands a chance to stake out real estate in the heavily trafficked social network. Brands can set them up for free, but are encouraged to buy Facebook ads promoting the mini-sites.

So what’s up with the verb change?  A couple things:

  • “Like” makes a lot more sense to Facebook users than “become a fan of.” Facebook says users already hit the “like” button in other contexts–in status updates and photos, for example–twice as often as they “fan” something.
  • Facebook is on a bigger push to add the “like” button throughout the Web as a way of funneling more and more interaction onto its platform. Expect to hear more about this at the the company’s developer conference next month.

For more on why fan/brand pages matter to Facebook and its advertisers, see this interview I conducted last year with Buddy Media’s Mike Lazerow.

Below is a mock-up of what the new “like ads” will look like when the change rolls out (click to enlarge), followed by the guts of the letter Facebook is sending to ad agencies today. Below that is a FAQ sheet the social network is also distributing.

Whenever possible we want to try to give you advance notice on changes that may affect your advertising campaigns or Facebook strategy. I am reaching out today to give you a heads-up on an upcoming change to Facebook. This will go live in a few weeks, so until then, please keep this information confidential.

As part of our ongoing efforts to improve the user experience, increase engagement and promote consistency across Facebook, we are changing the language we use when people connect to your Brand Pages. People will soon connect with your Brand Pages by clicking “Like” rather than “Become a Fan.” People already “Like” their friends’ status updates, photos and links everyday. In fact, people click “Like” almost two times more than they click “Become a Fan” everyday.

“Like” offers a simple, consistent way for people to connect with the things they are interested in. These lighter-weight actions mean people will make more connections across the site, including with your branded Facebook Pages.

I believe this will result in gaining more connections to pages since our research has shown that some users would be more comfortable with the term “Like”. The goal is to get the most user connections so that you can have ongoing conversations in the news feeds of as many users as possible.

The core functionality of Pages will not change. For instance, your Pages will still have distribution into your fans’ News Feed and you can still call the people who “Like” your Page, “Fans”-your Fans are still your Fans.