If you belong to Facebook, shop on Amazon, sell products on eBay, Google a hotel in an unknown city or purchase iTunes, you are probably familiar with evaluation tools. We’re talking about the notorious Facebook “like” button (usually a little thumbs-up sign) or the stars awarded to news or commerce sites (“How would you rate this article?”).
While it was Facebook that popularized this tool, the “like” button is popping up on a host of websites and blogs (with a dynamic vote counter keeping track right beside it). The popular recommendation strongly influences whether people read an article, buy a product or watch a film. According to eMarketer, an American research firm, online media and e-merchants aren’t mistaken: over half have implemented or would like to implement the Facebook “like” into their site within the next 12 months.
This “like” tool also has a virtual value that could be sold in the stock market as currency. Imagine the news: “After the recent abuse of certain brands, the confidence in the ‘like’ is now at an all-time low. But thanks to the swift actions on the part of the Facebook Central Bank and the ‘like’ regulatory authorities, there is hope for a resurgence of the ‘like’ against the dollar…”
More seriously, ChompOn.com, a revenue optimization platform for e-commerce sites, has evaluated the “like” at $8, by comparing the number of “likes” and the number of immediate sales of a “liked” product. The methodology of the calculation may be debatable, but it demonstrates the concrete reality of its value.
This evolution is both encouraging and worrisome. It’s encouraging in the sense that the best way to be “liked” is to produce good films, good products and good articles. It constitutes a true advertisement of popularity, based on enthusiasm and the desire to share it. On the flip side is the potential corruption of this recommendation tool. Between the explosion of “likes” for commercial purposes, suspicion towards certain recommendations that are too favourable and the crazy “likers” that we all have on our Facebook friend list, we risk diluting the credibility of this form of advertising.
Past the carefree candour of the beginning of online recommendations, we must make the effort to understand the context and the source of the opinions that we come across. Let’s develop our critical judgement skills. Let’s become experts in interpreting ratings: 1,000 people who give four stars to a product are more credible than 10 who give it five. But the best opinions are from the people we know and trust.
What brand is utilizing the “like” feature to its greatest potential?
How much authority or credibility do you give to “likes?”
Read more from Jean Pascal at A Nos Vies Numériques.