It’s finally happening: Mark Zuckerberg has announced that Facebook is to start testing a dislike button.
The 31-year-old told the world: “People have asked about the ‘dislike’ button for many years…probably hundreds.
“Today is a special day because today is the day that I actually get to say we are working on it, and are very close to shipping a test of it.”
It will be interesting to see how the dislike button will play out across personal networks, especially with Zuckerberg’s vision of a positive community vibe to Facebook. Dislike is designed to show empathy, but how long before selfies start getting more dislikes than likes? Goodbye self esteem.
The major commercial issue with the announcement from California however is that of brands marketing themselves on Facebook. All of a sudden it’s become mission critical for brands to get their social content in order, and their messaging on point.
Here are two huge reasons why brands need to get their houses in order before dislikes come to Facebook.
Brand perception & content
In a number of niches, brand perception is absolutely everything. Facebook currently is a place where brands can pump out self-edited content to a potentially huge network of fans and followers.
This is great at the moment, because even if a post is an absolute flop, having only a handful of likes on a post isn’t too damaging to the brand image. Perhaps only a few people have seen it so far, a potential follower could think.
Flip that round and give users an easy to activate function by which they can quickly showcase displeasure to a status update and all of a sudden the game has changed. That post with just a handful of likes previously now may have hundreds of dislikes too.
What does that do for brand perception?
Well, almost immediately the entire brand will appear unpopular, and unfashionable. If one user sees one post from your brand every day, and the vast majority over even just a short period have more dislikes than likes, then the perception of the brand is that it’s failing, irrelevant, and out of touch.
Because of this, in particular those high-end fashionable brands that rely totally on brand reputation to charge what they charge, getting their content in order is mission critical.
What worked well in the past? What got a lot of likes and not many negative comments? What was the tone of that content? This sort of data needs to be collated and analysed so a new content strategy in the upcoming world of dislikes can be formatted.
Another big issue for brands with the forthcoming dislike button is that of paid outreach. Boosting posts, promoting content and increasing the paid reach of a brand page to up the number of page likes are all common practices on Facebook, and they typically work rather well.
But much like with the before-mentioned content and brand perception issues with the dislike button, similar problems will occur.
Promoted posts that start to gain a handful of dislikes from the very off will soon get shunned by users. This is a big problem in the very early stages of a promoted post campaign for example where typically you may get 10 likes in the first hour, but then things get moving. Now, you may get 10 likes, 15 dislikes, and the campaign is going to go no where.
Why would a user like a page or engage with a piece of content that so many other users before them have already actively disapproved?
Because of this, the costs of Facebook marketing could increase as more and more exposure will be required to garner the required result. For example. Where as before it may have taken 10,000 impressions to get 100 likes, with just a few dislikes it may now take 15,000 impressions, or even more, to get the same result.
And if a paid promotional post does get 100 or even 1,000 dislikes and not much positive engagement, you will actually be paying to promote what is essentially bad social press about your brand to thousands of people.
These are all relatively extreme examples of what could happen once the introduction of the dislike button is rolled out internationally. It is yet to be seen what sort of algorithm Facebook will put in place to monitor and manage the use of the dislike, whether posts with too many dislikes will be demoted from user timelines or actually promoted as a point of interesting content.
Whatever happens over the months to come, it can only help brands that are serious about marketing themselves on Facebook to take stock and rethink their offering and content output, really get to grips with who their fans are and what they want, plus what they’ve liked in the past.