Yesterday, Facebook announced the new Like feature that enables businesses to add Like buttons to their Web sites and increase their presence on Facebook. While the debate is just beginning about the new Like feature with marketers and consumers on very different sides, the addition of the Like button has also raised speculation that Facebook is preparing to launch its own ad network to add to its own bottom-line.
Whatever Facebook’s ultimate goals are (and I’m sure they’re huge given the 350 million Facebook users around the world), the addition of the Like button does add a new layer of targeting for marketers that is sure to be popular. When Facebook users click on the Like button indicating that they like a brand or business, that preference will now show up in their own Facebook profile, adding a targeting element that advertiser’s can easily exploit to boost the return on investment on ads they place on Facebook. On the flip side, when people click that Like button, it also makes it easier for brands to interact not only with that person, but also with that person’s network of friends.
For Facebook, the most interesting part of this story is the perception that Facebook is getting too big and powerful with too much access to too much personal information about its users. The word “trust” is being used across the Web as social media professionals, marketers, and consumers wonder whether or not they can actually trust Facebook with all of this private information. We’ll have to wait and see how that story develops, but it is certainly the trend for large online companies to attempt to access and control information about its users (Google has certainly been accused of this in the past).
I predict there will be some regulations and laws developed in the not so distant future related to accessing and using all of this information. The hope is that there isn’t some kind of tragedy before those regulations are defined. In the meantime, marketers who can exploit that information should enjoy some nice returns.
What do you think? As a marketer? As a consumer?
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