Without much fanfare Facebook is preparing to change the way it asks users to connect with brands and celebrities on the social networking site. Rather than asking people to "Become a Fan" of a product or personality, Facebook users will click that they "Like" the subject.
The change, while subtle, strikes a different tone, and may result in more consumers engaging with brands on Facebook. Think about it: You might like Starbucks coffee or McDonald's fries, but yet not consider yourself a "fan" of those products. Saying you "Like" a product offers an opinion about it, whereas being a fan implies a greater level of commitment.
Facebook users already seem to acknowledge this distinction. All Things Digital reported that Facebook says its users already hit the "Like" button in other contexts—in status updates and photos, for example—twice as often as they "fan" something.
And Facebook is telling its partners that it expects the changes will result in brands attracting more followers. And that, after all is the often one of the goals of branded Facebook pages.
Brands are recognizing value in having a presence on Facebook as it helps to encourage a conversation between the brand and consumers. How this conversation will change if less loyal consumers are part of this discussion remains to be seen.
But while it may become easier to commit that you "like" something, the use of fan pages will essentially stay the same, including that all of your Facebook friends will see that you clicked "like" on a specific brand.
Some see the change as a precusor to a rumored project that Facebook is working on to allow publishers to add a "Like" button to any piece of content on their site, which was reported by TechCrunch and other sources last week.
This button, according to these reports, goes beyond the current Facebook share button that many sites, including CNBC.com, currently use.
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