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Clicking the Facebook Like button can give you access to business specials. In return, that business can be seen by your friends and allows them to communicate with you.

I subscribe to many online shopping sites. More and more, I'm asked to "Like" that site before I can take advantage of an offer. What does that mean? I've no wish to be involved with Facebook or Twitter or anything of that nature, yet it seems like everything is heading in that direction.

In this excerpt from Answercast #48, I walk through some of the things that happen when you have a Facebook page and click the Like button for businesses online.

Liking a site

Well, first of all liking"only works if, in fact, you have a Facebook account.

  • If you don't have a Facebook account, then liking is simply not an option for you;

  • You basically won't get the advantage of whatever it is the merchant is hiding behind the request to have you like their page.

Now, it's not uncommon... What a lot of merchants and other people will do is actually make an offer that simply says,"If you like this page, I will give you this," be it a coupon or a discount or a freebie of some sort.

Why do they do that?

Likes brings traffic

Well, basically, pages on Facebook are measured according to their popularity. In other words:

  • The more people that like them;

  • The more exposure that business gets on Facebook.

As you know, lots and lots and lots of people are on Facebook. So it's a big, big opportunity for businesses and other folks to get exposure to a very large audience.

What does it mean to like a page?

So, if you have a Facebook account, what does it really mean when you like some page? Well, it means a couple of things:

  • It means that the page's postings may appear on your wall when you use Facebook.

So, for example, I have an Ask Leo! fan page. If you go to ask-leo.com/askleofan that will take you to the fan page on Facebook for Ask Leo!.

If you hit the Like button, what will happen is that when I post something on my Ask Leo page there's a chance (it's not guaranteed), there's a chance that it will show up in your own newsfeed.

In other words, it will show on:

  • The page that shows up when you login to Facebook;

  • Where you see all the different pieces of activity that your friends and other entities have done.

I say there's a chance because Facebook tries to be smart and only show you those things that you will likely be interested in. It gauges your interest based on which ones you've actually clicked on, which pages you've actually visited on Facebook and so forth.

Facebook "learns"

So, if you continue to ignore all of the Ask Leo! postings that show up on your wall, eventually they'll probably not be shown anymore, even though you are an Ask Leo! fan. If on the other hand, you click Like on those posts or share them with other people, or whatever, then Facebook is more likely to show them.

So that's all that a Like really does to begin with:

  • It enables that page to show individual items on your Wall (the page that you're looking at whenever you login to Facebook);

  • It also means that those pages may be able to send you messages.

Facebook messages

For example:

  • I've never done this with Ask Leo! but I can send a message to everybody who has liked the page.

That's a Facebook message. It's not necessarily going to show up in email (unless you have Facebook notifications going to your email), but it will show up in your Facebook message center and allows page owners to communicate with the people that have liked their page.

Visibility to friends

And finally, when you Like a page:

  • It is possible that your name may appear in various places as being someone who has liked that page.

Typically, it shows up in cases where somebody else who might be your friend also likes the same thing. If person A and person B both like Ask Leo! and they happen to be friends, then they will see things like:

  • Person A will see that person B also likes Ask Leo!

  • And person B may see that person A also likes Ask Leo!

There are other scenarios where that happens, but that's about the extent of the exposure.

Do you "Like" Facebook?

So, that's really all it is. You do need a Facebook account to do it. Whether or not it is worth it is really up to you.

  • It's a function of exactly how much you trust or don't trust Facebook;

  • Or how much information you're ready to share with others.

I have a Facebook account. I actually do a fair amount with my Facebook account. I don't have any real concerns. But then, I'm also very careful about what I do and don't share online.

Be smart about what you share

That's true for anything - be it Facebook or any other online service.

So that's really all it boils down to:

  • "Like" is a way to express an interest in a particular company's Facebook page;

  • And allows them to give you some more information on your Facebook page.

Article C5752 - August 30, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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2 Comments
George Shepherd
September 1, 2012 7:37 AM

Yes Leo, I " like " all your articles

James
September 2, 2012 6:51 PM

If it was me, and I really wanted the deal, yeah, I would probably "like" them, get the deal, and then "unlike" them on Facebook.

I really dislike companies using me for free advertising or where I have to pay them to advertise their products for me. Similarly, I don't shop at the Gap or anywhere else where the shirts have the company name across the front. On the other hand, if they give me the shirt for free, I'll proudly wear it to say thanks for the free shirt.

I see this needing to "like" them as the same thing. I'm their customer and they get free advertising out of me. Sorry, not on my dime.

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