Facebook, others spearhead new engagement trend
When it comes to reader engagement, there’s some hidden brilliance behind the growing popularity of the “like” option.
In the old days we expected readers to write letters to the editor. Time consuming, but the mark of true dedication.
Next: commenting. But c’mon, that takes thought and effort. Readers have to be witty and coherent.
Then, we asked readers to Digg and tweet our content. Less effort, but still requiring a bit of thought and brevity.
Now, however, “like” is sweeping the Internet as the de-facto measurement of how many people react to content. Led by Facebook, Google Reader and Tumblr, to “like” something takes less than five seconds, and helps a reader offer approval without that whole “writing” thing.
Meebo along with Google, Microsoft and others is pushing XAuth as a standard for sharing between websites. The effort to create an open standard seems like the noble way to go, but Meebo is accomplishing uniformity through an intrusive toolbar that doesn’t seem like the most appealing way to standardize “likes.”
The only other effort I’ve seen is by the grandfather of “like”: Facebook. Yesterday, announced that it will offer a universal “like” button for all of the Web, pushing the data back to Facebook. The company also said that “become a fan” will transition to “like”.
While I appreciate Facebook trying to standardize the “like” feature, open standards typically win on the Web, even if it takes years. Between Meebo’s intrusive toolbar and Facebook’s closed system, publishers don’t have much incentive to standardize “like," meaning that the functionality is likely to live in silos for years to come.
Where’s the dislike button?