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Marketing Has Changed. Like, How?

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Category : Blogs

A few years ago, it gained an additional meaning, acting roughly as a conjunction. And now, suddenly, the word seems to have been hybridised with all kinds of meanings!

‘Like’ became a shorthand version of a comparative in conversations, often used with facial expressions: “and he was like (facial expression)…and then I was like (another facial expression)”. As an extension to this, ‘like’ also became a verb meaning ‘say’: “and I was like No Way”. And now ‘like’ is increasingly used simply as a method of breaking up a sentence: “and so, like, he came, like, over”…

So, the meanings associated with the word ‘like’ have proliferated in recent years. However, I am beginning to feel sorry for the word because social media marketing is beginning to undermine its original meaning of feeling affection or positively towards something.

Specifically, Facebook, uses a ‘Like’ button for users to indicate whether they like someone or a post, service, picture, or just about anything. But ‘like’ is an emotive word, suggesting strong positive sentiment. Given the origins of Facebook, this is clearly a good word to use.

But the problem is nowadays the ‘Like’ button is being used in a purely transactional way, as users are not asked if they actually like something or not. And it’s being used as a measure of success for social media marketing campaigns.

As an example, John Lewis has had a Facebook presence for around a year now from which you can receive alerts about offers – but only if you ‘like’ the page. In essence, the functionality is being used as a subscriber mechanism. The user doesn’t have to like the company, all it indicates is that you are interested enough to subscribe.

As a result, the ‘Like’ button has lost its emotive power and is increasingly just a sign-up function. This is a shame, as it could be a useful tool to understand consumer interaction and engagement. Sadly, the data will end up muddied by this process.


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