Facebook Changes Fanning to Liking

FB ChangesAs of April 19th, 2010, Facebook no longer offers users the ability to “Become a Fan” of a page.  Instead, the option to “Like” a page will be the new way to connect with a company’s fan page.  This is not to be confused with the option to “Like” a status, comment, photo, etc. however, which will still simply mean showing one’s approval for another’s action.

Instead, this new form of liking will carry all the same connotation as becoming a fan used to, meaning stories from a page one likes will still show up in their newsfeed and a list of pages one likes will still be displayed in their info section. This change may seem arbitrary and unnecessary on Facebook’s behalf—considering the web has seen a flurry of articles about the existence and effect of this change on Facebook and SEM.

Why Change One Word?

So, many people are wondering why Facebook would go through all this trouble to change one word on their website.  Facebook has stated that they made this change to promote consistency throughout the site.  Basically, instead of having different terms for different actions, Facebook wants to group as many actions together as possible.

Moreover, a recent study revealed that Facebook users click the “Like” button much more frequently than they click the “Become a Fan” button. Therefore, there may be some grounds to support changing the button based upon this study; however, it would seem to us, as Internet marketers, like comparing apples and oranges.

Future of the Changes

In general, this change reflects Facebook’s attempt to make connecting with a fan page less committal, in an effort to promote user fan page interaction, as this is their main source of revenue. They are considering “liking” something to be less serious than “becoming a fan.” Facebook expects that this change will positively affect users’ probabilities of connecting with a page.

The question then becomes, once users realize the change and comprehend that “liking” a page is equivalent to previously “becoming a fan,” will their behavior still confirm to Facebook’s predictions?  We aren’t sold but regardless, Facebook contends it will stimulate a permanent shift in user perception of connecting to fan pages.

Only time will tell whether this change will have a significant effect on Facebook users’ behavior, but in the meantime, Facebook page owners should ensure their followers understand that nothing has changed about their relationship with the fan page, other than the name of the most important action.

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