Facebook Users Will Soon “Like” a Page to Become a Fan, not “Become a Fan”

Facebook is changing some terminology around how people become fans of its Pages product, a move that could be somewhat confusing but has apparently worked well in the company’s tests.

“People will soon connect with your Brand Pages by clicking ‘Like’ rather than ‘Become a Fan,” the company recently began telling advertising agencies about the change, according to Facebook documents obtained by ClickZ and MediaMemo. ”People already ‘Like’ their friends’ status updates, photos and links everyday. In fact, people click “Like” almost two times more than they click “Become a Fan” everyday,” Facebook’s update days.

The changes are coming “soon” although a timetable has not been finalized and neither have all the details. The new term appears to affect advertising for Pages on Facebook, including both performance ads and brand-focused marketing ads, as you can see from the screenshots below. The company doesn’t say how other instances of “Become a Fan” will be changed, such as the wording for the “Become a Fan” button on Pages themselves.

One reason people click “like” more often than “Become a Fan” is probably due to the fact that it already means something else, as Facebook notes — that users are registering their approval of content that appears in their news feeds, walls, etc.. However, the reason that anything appears to them on Facebook is that they have already decided it should, through friending somebody, becoming a fan of a Page, etc. In this case, of course, Facebook is changing the definition of “like” so that it doesn’t just mean interacting with content. Now it means becoming a fan — an equivalent move, theoretically, would be “liking” somebody in order to become their friend, rather than literally requesting to become their friend.

So, with the change, users might click “like” a few times on Page ads, then discover that they’ve become a fan of when they thought they were just registering approval. But Facebook has already addressed this point in the FAQ in the document:

Q: How will users differentiate “Like” to connect to a Page, versus “Like” to show positive sentiments to an ad?

A: Users will understand the distinction through explicit social context, messaging and aesthetic differences. An Engagement ad unit, capable of making connections, will feature the “Like” button and show social context above it such as, “John Doe and 3 of your friends like [Page Name].” Standard ad units, not capable of making connections, will simply feature the word “Like” by itself, and may show social context above it that says “John Doe and 3 of your friends like this ad.”

Facebook’s stat — “people click “Like” almost two times more than they click “Become a Fan” everyday” — suggests the company has been testing out the changes and is happy with the user response so far.

If so far, so good, then what other changes can we expect? Like how will “liking” an ad for a Page be reflected in the news feed? From Facebook’s FAQ:
A: We are still iterating on this. However, it will probably look similar to: “John Doe likes [Page Name]” with a thumbs up icon below and a time stamp. Next to the time stamp there is a linked “Like”, which connects any friend who clicks on that “Like” to your Page. To eliminate confusion and promote consistency, there will no longer be a way to give feedback on these types of News Feed stories—commenting or liking (in the current sense).

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