Why I dislike the Facebook like button (Comment by Kate Drewett)

Kate Drewett, founded iconic digital agency Moonfish, and is about to launch a blog for The Drum: I should have started an organic farm instead. She kicks off with this opinion on the Facebook like button.

I don’t like the ‘Like’ button

I like tea, I like it even more with scones and cream however, I am not entirely sure I like the way Facebook is changing the meaning of ‘Like’. How many times have I seen people type ‘I don’t actually like x,y,z, but they don’t have a ‘hate’ or ‘unlike’ button here’. When Facebook announced an interruption to the chat service 19,314 people liked it.

This must be nonsense. So, why did so many people bother to click the button for a service outage? Possibly the answer is that the like button behaves like ‘follow’ on other social media sites. Perhaps all those people just wanted to stay informed, or maybe they ‘liked’ the fact they were informed in advance, or just maybe (like me) they don’t like Facebook chat because it is so slow.

What about the word ‘Follow’ which is used by Twitter, Quora and LinkedIn. I feel it is a more accurate and therefore preferable term. You might wish to ‘follow’ a story of interest, however ‘like’ has a built in sense of endorsement that isn’t always appropriate.

I can’t help smiling at thought of Facebook adding a ‘hate’ button. Can you imagine the panic in marketing departments around the world? People who were trying to measure the value of ‘liking’ a brand will suddenly be panicking at the prospect of everybody hating it. Last week I would have been tempted to hit a hate button for O2 as yet another important call was cut short by lack of signal.

I don’t hate O2 of course, 80% of the time they perform a very important function in my life, but that day I would have hit ‘hate’ if it had been there. Over time a ‘Hate’ button could become a fairly reliable measure of service levels, but I don’t think most marketing people are ready for that step yet, they find it hard enough that people might tweet something negative, hate buttons could send them all over the edge.

And, while I am on the subject of meanings, let’s have a quick look at the word ‘Friend’. Is a friend someone who rushes to your aid when disaster strikes, someone you have known and cared about for years or just someone who hit a button on a website. For many people their Facebook list is full of people they haven’t actually met.

Maybe I’m being too idealistic about friends? As a train manager recently announced on extremely busy train to Manchester ‘budge up and don’t be shy, a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet’. With social media growing in popularity people are sharing aspects of their lives that would formerly have been kept for close friends and family. I often wonder whether this is something we will really ‘like’ as time passes or will we hate the fact everyone knows everything about everyone before they have even met.

About Kate...

I should have started an organic farm instead

I have been pioneering digital for marketing communications since 1992, yes, that is it even before it was called ‘new media’ yet alone digital or social. The way in which people use technology and consume content continues to fascinate me. My mission has always been the same, to match how people want to interact online with how companies want to achieve their goals.

Sometimes this takes a while, because companies still don’t really like conversation, they prefer forms . . . so much easier to process! However, as a self appointed digital missionary I will continue to convert those who have not yet seen the true digital light shining bright. I have been social online for quite a lot longer than that term too, although I confess even I was a bit skeptical about twitter at first. It didn’t last long though, @katesparkle if you tweet too.

I have an on-going love-hate relationship with software and gadgets . . . mostly hate, but what can I say I’m addicted. I can’t understand why it still has to be so bloody difficult to do the simplest things. I swear about it (a lot) and often wish I had started a farm instead because how hard can it be to herd cows?

My experience spans some of the world’s largest technology and telecoms companies including Intel, Sharp, Cisco, Sybase, SCO, Microsoft, Your Communications and Etisalat. At Bright Digital I am busy making this social digital stuff so much easier for clients to manage and get the results they dream of.

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