You have probably seen the headlines about the massive numbers of ‘Likes’ served by Facebook. As a nod to the power of the simple Like button, other major social networks such as LinkedIn, Google, Blogs (WordPress) and Communities have also started offering ‘Like’ functionality. With the social widgets, it is easy for any website to add the like buttons to their site. It has been reported that Facebook’s Open Graph and Like Button are going mobile as well. For Twitter, you have the more powerful retweet button which is closer to the share functionality. Although one wonders why Twitter has not made better use of the Favorite feature.

What is the driver for this massive adoption of ‘Like’? It goes back to the concept of  ‘single tap engagement’. Most of the users on social media would love to interact in quick, simple ways – and Like is the embodiment of the simplicity. Here’s a video from FriendFeed founder Paul Buchheit who talks about why they introduced like feature.

As a simple to understand metric which tells you whether your content got approval or not, Like will become an increasingly important measure for marketers and will impact everyting from SEO to influence.

When you combine the engagement information with demographics, psychographics, location and other contextual data, it leads to new opportunities for businesses. This recent article from Wall Street Journal talks about the social-context ads which are powered by Likes from your network.

Facebook Inc. is trying to rev up its advertising business with a little help from your friends.

The so-called social-context ads, which Facebook started rolling out over a year ago, are based on data it collects on the likes and friends of its users. The ads appear on the right side of a user’s homepage, with an image and headline from the advertiser. With the ads are the names of any of the user’s friends who have clicked on a button indicating they like the brand or ad. The user is also offered a chance to indicate he likes the ad.

“Marketers have always known that the best way to sell something is to get your friends to sell it,” says Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer. “That is what people do all day on Facebook. We enable effective word-of-mouth advertising at scale for the first time.”

Its hard to argue about the scale but there are some other views on this topic. First, as everyone knows Facebook has been criticized for its privacy policies. As these ads become common, more people will notice them. On the left is one example from my Twitter timeline today. Next time you ‘like’ a brand’s page, think about this.

I found this line from an article on PC World interesting:

Facebook’s “Like” button program told Pandora my musical preferences even though I didn’t ask it to. It was both cool and creepy.

There are some interesting cases as well. For example, you have to like a Facebook fan page in order to post a complaint on the wall of that page. So it means that if you are upset about a brand, you first ‘like’ them and then post a negative comment. I have done that.

What about you? Have you made good use of the Like feature?

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