What’s the difference between Liking and Sharing content on Facebook and which should you use? Customers ask us this question often, so we wanted to discuss it in the context of email marketing and sending newsletters.
In days gone by, Liking something on Facebook was a big commitment because it meant you were becoming a Fan of a particular person or product. Sharing was less of a pledge of allegiance because it enabled you to endorse content without becoming a Fan. In recent months though, that paradigm has flipped.
Facebook unveiled a number of significant alterations to their platform at the f8 conference in April 2010. Some of the most notable announcements were the Open Graph Protocol and social plugins. With these two changes, Facebook decreased the barriers to entry for integrating social functionality with your site or email campaigns, essentially making it a plug-and-play process.
So by making the Like button ubiquitous across the web, Liking something has shifted from being a huge commitment, to being more of a hat tip. It’s a casual way to show your interest in a site, article, brand or email campaign.
On the other hand, Sharing requires both a greater time commitment and a greater reputation commitment. Tom Webster, Vice President of Strategy for Edison Reserach, describes Sharing as an act of curation.
Facebook’s “Share” feature allows active users to curate media – in fact, the sharing interface practically compels it by presenting sharers with that big empty box in which they not only post the “what” – the compelling link, the funny video – but the “why.” Facebook’s sharing feature allows curators to add value to what they share, and in fact create content of their own around shared items.
I suspect that there is a nascent dichotomy emerging here, between the type of Facebook user who chooses to Like content, versus the user who Shares it. By including both options (when we can remember to actually insert the tags) in our newsletter, we’re giving different types of users the opportunity to interact with our content in the way they find the most personally compelling. There are some people who will think that our content is worth sharing with their network of friends, so they share. There are others who wouldn’t necessarily share something with their friends (because their friends aren’t email designers, or email marketers), but they want to give props. So they press Like. It just so happens that when they Like something it shows up in their news feed on Facebook, and then curious friends can go see what it’s all about.