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September 22, 2011 (Updated: February 8, 2023)
The Facebook “Like” button has long been the lazy man’s way of approving something. What’s easier: finding yet another creative way to say “Congratulations” on a status update, or letting a Facebook button do your applauding for you?
Yet Facebook recently announced they’d be adding additional Facebook buttons beyond “like”– including the option for developers to create their own unique buttons.
The network’s announced changes raise a lot of questions. How will these changes transform the way users share content? How will it affect the content industry? And the true question of the hour: Are the 1,694,339 members of “Petition for Facebook to Install a Dislike Button” finally getting their wish?
Modern Facebook users use the “Like” button pretty promiscuously. Users can subscribe to a site’s news feed by liking the site’s Facebook page. They can like a friend’s business, like a band, like an upcoming movie– basically, if a user feels even remotely positive about an entity, they can let their all of their Facebook friends know of their amiable relationship status with said entity.
Looking over my own “like” selections on my personal profile, I see I’ve shared my Facebook affection for a variety of subjects, including a grilled cheese food truck, three local bands, and a page for “Beyoncé, the Giant Metal Chicken.”
The problem with this “like” promiscuity is that it implies a definitive positive feeling– or as Mashable calls it, an “endorsement.” What if users don’t want to endorse Beyoncé the Giant Metal Chicken? What if they merely want to report that they’ve seen Beyoncé around the blogosphere, or that they listened to a song off Beyonce’s highly-anticipated future album?
Soon, Facebook users can click “Read,” “Listened,” or “Watched” buttons in addition to “Like.” This could be great news for content developers. First of all, the separation sets written, audio, and video content apart from the mass of the Internet’s other “Like” options. It’s an easy, one-click way for users to share their reading list– which will hopefully mean more shares for content developers.
Facebook will also release “Gestures,” in which developers can create their own buttons for Facebook users. The full details and rules behind third-party Facebook buttons have yet to be seen, but it’s a pretty exciting concept for content developers. I can see fans of comedy sites like Cracked.com or The Oatmeal embracing an “Awesome Button,” or foodies using “Nosh” or “Nom” buttons for recipes on food blogs. Even a “Bought” or “Purchased” button would be a handy addition to online stores.
Plus, who wouldn’t love a “Love” option for situations when the “Like” button just won’t cut it? Take the wise words of Bianca from 10 Things I Hate About You: “There’s a difference between ‘like’ and ‘love.’ Because I like my Skechers, but I love my Prada backpack.” In the future, Bianca won’t have to merely “like” Prada on Facebook– she can love it.
It’d be a content marketer’s dream come true. After all, which content would you click on Facebook: the link your Aunt Mildred merely liked, or the one she loved?
Facebook’s upcoming changes look like good news for the content industry. What’s our number one goal? To harness our readers’ attention. If a social network wants to give us new and creative ways to share our work and receive attention for our content– well, by all means, Facebook, please continue.
As for the new news feed layout? Jury’s still out, Mr. Zuckerberg.