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How will Facebook deal with reciprocal liking?

Tom here at the office shared a conversation on LinkedIn with me where the whole purpose was to share your Facebook fan page and get likes in exchange for likes. To a small business owner trying to up the likes on their page this may not seem like a bad idea, it may even seems like a great one. However though it may work right now it’s something Facebook will have to address if Likes are to have any long term value.

How can you trust Likes as an indicator of value when you know they are so easily manipulated. There were over 5,000 posts in this conversation and one person mentioned getting over 200 Likes for exchange. Even if this person had 1,000 likes 20% would be BS Likes, move likely this person now has 300 Likes, 200 of which are BS. How will Facebook will the impact this will have on the quality and value of its Like feature?

Google dealt with it.

This is exactly what happened with back-links in the early SEO days. As soon as everyone realized the PR was important and was shared via back-links the reciprocal linking went crazy. Link to me and I’ll link to you was a huge, if not the only, part of most SEO strategies in the late 90s early 2000s.

For several years it worked great but eventually Google caught on and updated their algorythm to lower the effect of a link exchange. Its easy enough for them to see if both sites have links to each other. Then link farms were built where links were exchanged in a round about way where several sites made a ring of links ultimately returning to the first site. This was addressed as well.

What will Facebook do?

I think this is something Facebook will have to deal with soon. People viewing a brands fan page will likely gauage it’s value based on likes. They may even be driven to a purchase based on that. If Likes are manipulated and irrelevant that person might buy something they arent happy with because they thought so many people liked it. Or they may Like and share the page based on the Likes, further diluting the relevancy.

Tom said it well in one of his comments in that conversation.”How valuable can these “likes” really be? Pretty sure none of these people have actually seen [BandX] play. Are they able to authenticate, in any way,[BandX]’s talent or abilities? Not. How meaningful can their endorsement (aka:”like”) be? Certainly, many folks here like music, and some may even play drums themselves, but c’mon. Who and why people “like” your page matters.”

I’m curious to see how this plays out in the long run. The one rule of internet marketing that I have seen hold true over my 12 years of doing it is this; If you abuse and manipulate results on search engines or social sites the site owners will adapt and regulate it. So enjoy the Like fest now while it lasts or take the high road and get Likes the right way.

The best approach is to ask your happy customers to like your page. You can even consider offering them a discount on their next purchase if they do. Either way make sure all your customers, not other people trying to promote their fan page, know about your page and can easily get to it from your website or printed materials, especially those you include with your product packaging.

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Austin Coulson

Web Design and Internet Marketing have been passions of Austin’s for many years. While starting out by creating websites for himself, Austin ascertained many of the fundamentals and theory that constitute professional website development. Through networking and word-of-mouth, Austin soon began building and marketing websites for many different businesses and industries.

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