since when did clicking ‘like’ become the price of beginning a conversation?

I got a press release from Lemsip’s digital agency the other day, rather belatedly letting me know about their ‘It’s a Man’s Flu’ facebook campaign.  I dutifully headed over there to have a look…but you couldn’t have a play with it unless you ‘liked’ the page first

It’s not just Lemsip, they’re all at it.  The new Justin Timberlake film In Time, Yeo Valley, Heinz baked beans, Innocent Drinks, BMW and so on all require a Like for access.

Brand manager’s (and sometimes their digital agency’s) obsession with racking up as many Likes as possible doesn’t seem to be abating, but now they’re increasingly using clicking Like as the price of entry to interact with their content or receive special offers.

But I thought social media was all about having conversations?  And the last time I checked, I didn’t have to offer a public endorsement of someone I’d recently met before we could start having a chat.  After all, I might need the chat to know if they’re the kind of person I’d like to be friends with anyway.

It feels like brands want consumers to pay for access with Likes.  Which means that there will be higher expectations of this ‘paid’ content and a relationship that has been wrong footed from the start.

In fact recent research suggests that over half of US facebook users expect to gain access to exclusive content, events or sales after “liking” a company, while a similar amount also expect to receive discounts or promotions.  In the same piece of data, a quarter of users disagreed that marketers should interpret “like” to even mean they are a fan or advocate of the company.

As I’ve posted before, I only feel a real connection with maybe a dozen or so brands – and therefore don’t feel the need to Like everything in my wardrobe, kitchen and medicine cupboard.

You could of course argue that putting this content behind a wall is a way of rewarding brand advocates.  But it doesn’t do much for those other consumers that the brand should really be wooing to eventually perhaps win a coveted space in their list of Likes.

3 thoughts on “since when did clicking ‘like’ become the price of beginning a conversation?

  1. It seems to be a case of quantity winning out over quality. Perhaps the eagerness to be ‘Liked’ is to do with us marketers being desperate to find some way of measuring sucess in the world of social media? Thanks Gemma – food for thought.

  2. I guess it depends on just how keen people are to click on brands just to see content. But by doing this, they are also devaluing the like as a judge of popularity.

  3. Agree with Rob.

    The necessity of liking a page creates a wall between brands and consumers whereas social media is supposed to connect them to each other.

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