Facebook Like and Follow Buttons Confuse Users and Hurt Your Page
Facebook’s Like and Follow Buttons Confuse Users
and Hurt Pages
I like ice cream. I like it a lot, but I don’t have a reason to follow ice cream. I have some favorite brands
and I might want to let Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream know I’m a fan of their product by liking their Facebook
Page but does that mean I want to read what they post in my News Feed? Maybe, maybe not.
Lots of people liked Jesus. They followed him everywhere because they wanted to hear what he had to
say. They liked him and they followed him. Did some of them like what he had to say and yet didn’t want
their friends or the Romans to know they liked him? You betcha and in that case it’s not likely they would
have walked around wearing a sign that said “I Like Jesus”.
How confusing must it be then to the average Facebook user to see both a Like and a Follow button? How
much more confusing is it that the Follow button doesn’t do anything until after they’ve liked the Page?
That means if someone wants to follow a Page and read that Page’s updates in their News Feed without
letting their friends know… well, what it means is they can’t do it.
After someone clicks the Like button the Follow button activates. Now the Page shows “Liked” and
“Following”. What if they just wanted to give the Page a thumbs up but didn’t want to get the updates in
their News Feed? Do most users know that if they click the Following button they’ll stop seeing the
updates but will still Like the Page? I doubt it. And if they want to follow the Page without publicly showing
they like the Page they’ll probably unlike the Page after the Following button shows up but when they do
the Following button reverts and they’re back where they started before they liked the Page in the first
place. The whole process doesn’t even make sense.
Besides the confusion the buttons cause users, what does this mean for our Pages? Facebook uses an
algorithm to determine what stories the users are most likely to find interesting and hides the rest. In order
for your Page’s updates to be shown to most of your fans those fans need to engage with your content on
a regular basis. The more highly-engaged fans your Page has, the higher the reach will be. But, if your
Page has lots of likes from people who just wanted to give you a thumbs up but who never like, comment
or share your content, your reach is going to suffer. The higher the percentage of non engaged fans you
Page has, the lower your reach is going to be.
There are two options that make more sense than the current setup. First, keep the two buttons but let
users click the Follow button without needing to click the Like button. If they don’t want to publicly admit
they like the Page they can still Follow the Page and read the updates in their News Feed. The second
option is to get rid of the Like button and just use Follow. Google+ uses a Follow button on their business
Pages but doesn’t also have a Like button.
My preference would be to have both but let the Like button only register a like, as in a thumbs up. They
can show the number of Likes on the Page as they do now so people can see how many people gave that
brand or person a thumbs up. Then the Follow button should be activated so that it can be used
independently of the Like button and the number of Followers should be shown as a separate number from
the Likes. Users can then choose to Like us just to give us a thumbs up; Follow us to get our content in
their News Feed; or Like and Follow us if they want to do both.