The Passive Generation and The Death of Like

A click can be such a meaningless thing. Often times having little to no real-world consequence. Often times requiring no real-world investment or commitment.

In an era of Big Data, many companies, authors, brands, musicians, politicians continue to put heavy value on the volume of Likes, Plus 1s, Hearts, and Favorites they can measure.

For the sake of time I’m going to lump all of the previous into the term Like despite the fact that a similar action might not be called that on every platform.

Social signals like these drive marketers and analysts to create groups and sub groups of the groups and micro-markets of the sub groups. We watch individuals “self-select” via The Like and we make educated guesses of their next actions based on those Likes. Many companies associate that button press or icon click with some sort of brand loyalty. It simply doesn’t work that way.

The reality is The Like doesn’t mean much of anything anymore in the realm of social signals and consumer actions. The Like is watered down and it’s importance is getting thinner and thinner. A study back in 2011 states that, “just 1% of fans of the biggest brands on Facebook engage with the brands on the site.” And that was in 2011. By 2012 the number of daily Facebook likes was around 2.7 billion…a day. Today more than 4.5 billion Likes occur on Facebook, just Facebook, everyday (as recorded 5/27/13).

Frontline has gone so far as to dub the group following Millennials as Generation Like.

There’s no doubting the power of social validation but at the hands of a more Passive Generation the Like is barely a conscious action. Instead it hasĀ  become a reflex. Little more than a blink when someone claps their hands in your face. A mere knee-jerk at the tap from a ball-peen hammer. It’s a momentary symbol that something was felt but it has since passed or bares no further reaction. The Like is now the slap bracelet of our time. It’s there, it happened, it was quick and easy. I’ve collected it, you can see it, I wear it on my profile page but it means little else. The Like requires no further commitment and alludes to no further action. It’s a pin. A piece of flare. It doesn’t mean I’ll go buy that product or interact or communicate further or share in any other way.

So what does all of this mean for your business?

  1. Spend less time putting eggs in the Like basket.
  2. Work to build and measure engagement and the other numbers will follow.
  3. A passive audience does nothing for you. Build raving fans instead.

Photo credit: mkhmarketing

About Nathaniel Seevers

Nathaniel combines a background in brand communications & design with experience in marketing, copy writing and business development. When not in the office you'll likely find Nathaniel outside with his dog or in his home office listening to records.