It seems like those Facebook like buttons are everywhere. But when you add a “like” button to a page of your site, what actually happens?
I think many, many people assume that someone is liking your Facebook page, but this is not always the case. And more importantly, this may not be what you actually want everyone to do.
Let me spell out some of the details behind those buttons.
Like Us on Facebook
When Facebook introduced fan pages or business pages, it gave businesses the ability to create a page for themselves that was separate from personal Facebook pages. These pages are different from personal pages because it is a one-way, rather than two-way interaction.
With personal Facebook pages, you request to be someone’s friend and then they confirm the request. When you like a Facebook page, there is no confirmation; you’re in. Once you have liked a page, news from that page should end up in your news feed.
Note: There is a lot of hoopla about this. How many updates do people actually see? Do you have to pay to promote your posts? etc. That’s a separate issue. As of right now, the basic process is that if someone likes your page then your posts will end up in people’s feed based on Facebook’s magic formula.
The benefit of this type of relationship is that it continually puts your content in front of your prospects. They do not have to do anything further (Facebook willing), and they will see your company’s updates.
There are a couple ways people do this. One is to just create a graphic, with a link to your Facebook page. The mechanics of this is that you put a button, graphic or text link on your site, and then link to your Facebook page. When the viewer arrives on your page, they need to click the “like” button. If they already like the page, they will arrive their and see it already marked as “liked.” With this setup, people generally leave your web site, and get sent to Facebook.
Here, try it right now (this will send you to Visible Logic Facebook page):
The problem here is that you’ve now sent people off to Facebook, and we all know what kind of distraction that is!
How to have viewers like your Facebook page and stay on your web site
Facebook now provides an alternative, for people who are already logged in to Facebook.
Try this one out (if you already like us, it will already be shaded out gray). You may want to log out of Facebook and see the change. You can get the code to create Facebook like buttons here. But keep reading below for more information.
But there’s more
As I said at the beginning, I think that many, many people think this is the beginning and end of Facebook liking. Many business owners assume that this the only or best way to engage with clients and prospects.
And many web site viewers think that whenever they see a “like” button on a web site it will direct them to like a Facebook page.
Liking your web page (Sharing your content on their timeline)
However, Facebook is encouraging people to share all sorts of content on their Facebook timeline, regardless of whether they’ve liked the brand that created the content.
This type of sharing is separate from whether or not you like a company page.
You can try it out here, by liking this blog post:
As you can see, you haven’t liked Visible Logic’s Facebook page. Instead, you’ve shared the content of this blog on your own timeline.
Facebook Like buttons are confusing
Let me start by saying that as a designer, I think it’s very strange that two buttons that look exactly alike do two very different things. That is not good UI design and makes no sense.
And as I mentioned earlier, I think many people still think that every “like” button will send them to like a Facebook company page, when it may not be true.
Which is better: Facebook page likes or shared content?
If you are building your web site, which is better? What will engage your prospects more?
It can be hard to determine which makes more sense.
A benefit of someone liking your Facebook page is that (ideally) you now have a way to promote your content to them on a regular basis. Your updates should show up in the news feed of the people who have liked your company page.
Unfortunately, many companies and brands are complaining that their updates rarely get viewed by the Facebook user’s who have liked their pages. They complain that Facebook’s algorithm makes it difficult to be seen.
When someone shares just the content of one page, you do not have that continued connection with them. But, you do have the benefit of extending the reach of your content. When a Facebook user creates an update featuring your content, that will show up in the news feeds of many, many additional people. And (ideally) your content will be shared and viewed by more people.
We recently redesigned our web site and blog and have implemented both types of Facebook buttons. Along the top of this blog post you will see how you can share this post with others on your own Facebook timeline (you can also share it on other networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.—why not try it right now?). Along the side, below the gray navigation pieces are how you connect to “like” our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter, etc. (Why not try that, too?)
What do you think?
Did these sample buttons help to clarify the different ways of using Facebook to connect with people and share content?
Which do you think is more effective?