If I like you, please like me back

This is my 2nd piece for August which I have the pleasure of contributing to Cogs. Brands are misinterpreting the meaning between a Facebook Like and …

This is my 2nd piece for August which I have the pleasure of contributing to Cogs.

Brands are misinterpreting the meaning between a Facebook Like and real advocacy.


So much emphasis has been put on the almighty ‘Like’ these days, that it’s almost become an all out race for brands to get as many ‘Likes’ as possible.  There are even loads of tactics being used by brands such as ‘Like-gating’ for access to content or even incentivizing people with free stuff if they Like a brand’s page. After all, the more people that Like you, the more popular you’re becoming and the more likely they’ll buy from you.  And of course, this clearly means they’re actually advocating you as a brand, correct?


Not necessarily.  The problem these days is that many consider a ‘Like’ as a sign of advocacy.  But if you look at the actual definition of advocacy, it means the ‘active support of a cause or the act of pleading or arguing in favour of something.’  The key word here is active.

It’s not about how many people you can get to like your brand. It’s what you do afterwards to drive engagement & getting fans to do things with you.  Yes, a Like is important, but it’s only a first step.   It’s actually the doorway into bigger engagement with your fans.  But it’s just an an opt-in, although a very public one, and a ‘permission to speak, sir!’ It’s a few steps up from opting in to an email newsletter where some brands have given themselves the rights to spam their subscribers to kingdom come.  Nowadays, with a Facebook Like, a fan’s just stating very publicly that they’re allowing a brand to do so through the newsfeed.  And funnily enough, some brands are actually doing just that, seeing it as just another channel to pump messages through.  Pity the brand that pumps 2-for-1 deals and Tuesday specials to their fans because now they feel they have the right to.  Well, they’re ‘our fans’ right?


A Like really only means, “I’m happy for you to appear from time-to-time in my NewsFeed.” But the real hope from is but if you happen to give me stuff or make me laugh and give me things I can share with my friends, then even better.”

A like is passive.  As mentioned before, advocacy is active.  A Like just gets us on the radar of a fan (amidst all the other things she really cares about and which is stealing away her attention).  But what what we’re really aiming for is a lot more active behavior from fans.  We want them to ‘do stuff.’  We want them to discuss, comment, engage with our content.  We want them to share brand experiences with their networks, hopefully influencing the behavior of their friends.  And at the highest level, we’d love for them to defend us when we’re not around to defend our brand.  But this only happens when we’ve managed to give a lot of ourselves to our fans.

A Like is a ‘hello, you seem interesting‘.  Advocacy is “you proved my instincts correct, I will introduce you to my friends.”  I guess it’s a bit like dating or even just making a new friend.  Someone can always pique our interests.  We find them interesting.  And we give them opportunities to keep proving us right.  They don’t go straight from the hello, to telling us how wonderful they are and if we fancy checking out their stamp collection.


A Like from a fan is actually a promise from us.  To like them back.  And we do that by thinking of what matters to them.  Engaging with them as real people who are sacrificing precious few mintues of their time to spend with us.  Make it meaningful.  It’s no surprise Starbucks have some of the most active fans on Facebook.  For a corporate monolith of a company, you’d think they’d have a hard time getting fans…and then getting them to stay engaged.  The reason is they are equally active back to their fans, they get involved.  And find ways to actively engage with them.

True advocacy starts when we start giving to our fans… being more generous, being engaging & useful.  The more that we do this, the more that they’ll be willing to be real advocates, being more active with our brand.

Yes, get them to like you first.  Be interesting, strike a chord, incentivise…even at times go for ‘Like-gating’ (with caution).  But  remember, the Like is really a promise from us…that we’ll be ‘liking’ our fans back…through engaging conversation, ideas, free (but not frivolously free) stuff, making them look better in front of their friends and anything that will make their lives slightly better or more fun.  Do that right and Likes eventually lead to advocacy.


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