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'Like' Means Different Things to Different People

September 28, 2011

Though more than nine in ten Facebook users (93%) click on a Facebook “like” button at least once a month, their motivations for doing so vary considerably by age and context, according to a new study by ExactTarget and CoTweet.

Nearly two-thirds of Facebook users surveyed say they "like" at least one brand on Facebook; among them, the top like-related activities performed at least monthly include the following:

  • Like an item posted by a friend on Facebook: 74%
  • Social bookmarking (clicking the "like" button from an external website): 52%
  • Like a brand's Facebook page: 45% 
  • Like an item posted by a brand on Facebook: 44%

Below, additional findings from the titled "The Meaning of Like," the latest in ExactTarget's Subscribers, Fans and Followers research series.

"Like" Does Not Necessarily Mean "Permission"

Nearly two in five Facebook users who like brands (39%) say the act of "liking" a brand should never be interpreted as permission to post marketing messages that appear in a user's news feed, whereas 15% say "liking" a company's Facebook page should "always" be interpreted as permission to do so. 

Similarly, 48% of Facebook fans say the act of bookmarking a brand via the "like" button from another site (e.g., news site, blogs, brand website, etc.) should never be interpreted as permission to post marketing messages in a user's news feed; 42% say that action can sometimes be interpreted as permission and 10% say it should never be interpreted as such.

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  • by Nick Stamoulis Wed Sep 28, 2011 via web

    It's tricky to know exactly what each customer expects when they Like your company on Facebook. Obviously you want to take advantage of that interaction, but you don't want to step on anyone's toes and annoy your connections. It's a fine line between engagement and annoyance.

  • by Karl Walinskas Wed Sep 28, 2011 via web

    The age breakdowns on the meaning of the Facebook like are interesting to me. It's almost as if those in the 27-34 age bracket know how to play the game and use the Like as currency, whereas older users are opposed to any meaning behind what the Like endorsement means.

  • by Timoci Wilson Wed Sep 28, 2011 via web

    Often "liking" a brand is the only way to gain access to it, so I'll click "like" when I intensely dislike and want to complain. I "like" my competitors! In my view it's a mistake to see a brands "likes" as endorsement.

  • by @hariath Thu Sep 29, 2011 via web

    of course the like button means a lot of different things. Always the users find a different way to use a feature. But at the end the result is the same: the product is being advertised

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