Should Businesses Like The Facebook "Like"?

For business purposes, the Facebook “Like” has been put in a precarious position. Indirectly, it works, as it allows companies to interact with customers, push content, and measure their influence. But many companies have deluded themselves into thinking this is the best – and only way – to increase sales on Facebook. 

Likes were set up as an enjoyable way to build lists of interests, interact with friends, and to make it easy for Facebook to collect data for its Open Graph. However, as people have started to give out Likes more freely, with minimal emotional investment, the chances of an individual Like’s visibility has drastically reduced compared to more valuable posts in a user’s timeline. 

Facebook like thumbs up

Granted, a Like opens up a user to receive updates from a company’s Facebook Page, but the window of opportunity to reach others within that user’s network only exists when their Facebook profile is visited by their friends. The question, then, becomes this: How does a company monetise Facebook when the Like isn’t a viable venue? 

Based on our analysis of over 110,000 patron transactions that took place during a 3-month period, we found that only 1/66 Likes generated an incremental ticket sale for our customers. To improve this, we experimented with Facebook’s Graph API to create an App that engages our user base’s wants and interests. With the user’s permission, it posts “I’m going to (this event!)” to their Wall, and gets their friends interested the moment it hits their News Feed.  The results were astounding, whereby 1/10 uses of this App generated an incremental ticket sale for our customers.  

It’s as Seth Godin once wrote: “Permission Marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal, and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.” The importance of permission with the API approach cannot be stressed enough; despite the fact that a Facebook Profile exists in a public space, users still think of it as private, and treat it accordingly. Hence, programming that utilizes Facebook Connect and specifically solicits individual consent is essential. Once the need for consent has been met, users will allow a program to post something to their News Feed as long as they feel a want or need is being met.

The Facebook Like is not a direct means to drive sales, as its original purpose was to gather data and share interests, and it is also used as a metric to dictate the display order of posts in the News Feed. Companies remain slow to understand these facts, and still hold firm to the use of the Like as a method to monetise social media. utilising the Facebook API to create apps that link purchase, buyer, and other potential purchasers within their network in a positive and engaging way is a more effective method of social media monetization – because it has high visibility, it solicits purchaser permission before proceeding, contains a call to action, addresses a want or need, and uses the relationship framework inherent in social media to its advantage. Though it’s an approach that suits the nature of online ticket sales, it’s an approach that could be successful in other industries as well.

Brian Lynch is a member of the TicketLeap marketing team.

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