Getting to ‘Like’: why being liked really matters and how not to do it

Social networks like Facebook have transformed the ways people connect with friends, businesses and much of the world around them. In the early days of online marketing, businesses used to fret about how to get people to their website and stay there. Nowadays, getting someone to ‘Like’ your brand on a social networking site is infinitely more important.

The reason a ‘Like’ matters is two-fold. Firstly, by gaining a ‘like’ you jump into the privileged position of having your updates pushed directly to the person who liked you, greatly increasing the chances of their seeing what you have to say (EdgeRank permitting). And secondly, and more importantly, being liked means that your fan’s friends may also see that their friend has endorsed you, thereby increasing their propensity to become a customer.

But the way that many companies go about becoming ‘liked’ sometimes leaves me cold. Take Glasses Direct for an example. This a really smart online retailer that sells spectacles and sunglasses for much lower prices than you’ll find on the High Street. I’ve browsed their online store and now see their cleverly targeted contextual ads on many sites I visit. They also email me regularly with offers, but their latest mailing didn’t quite hit the mark:

Glasses Direct email offer

OK, so you want me to ‘Like’ you on Facebook, and in return you’ll give me a 20% discount? That seems reasonable although, as I tell every business I meet, it would be far better if I would like you for some more permanent reason than getting a one-off discount. But, let’s see what we’ll get when we hit their ‘Like’ button on Facebook:

Glasses Direct Thanks for Liking Us screen

I’ve blurred out the offer code, but the bit that hurts me is this:

Glasses Direct restrictive offer clause

I’ve just entered into a long-term relationship with the Glasses Direct brand and already I’m being hit by short-term sales incentives. This is marketing lunacy. If you can get someone to like your brand on a social network, don’t abuse their trust by force-feeding them sales offers with restrictive terms & conditions attached. You should nurture your new relationship, drip-feeding goodness over the long-term, rewarding loyalty and routinely thanking your fans for their friendship. For example, a lifetime discount of even 5% would have had a far greater appeal to me than 20% in the next seven days.

What did I do after seeing this 7 day clause? I immediately ‘unliked’ Glasses Direct on Facebook because they had abused the trust I’d placed in them.

Think about how your brand uses ‘Likes’ to build its long-term customer base and reward loyalty. Just like in the real world, true friendship grows over time and through mutual enjoyment. What can you change in your marketing approach to ensure that ever ‘Like’ converts into a lifetime of loyalty?