Temporary Ties and the rise of social “Like”

24 Jun

A few months ago the Facebook ‘Become a Fan” button died a quiet death. Its replacement was the “Like” button. Overall this doesn’t seem like much of a big deal but because of the level of perceived commitment the new ‘Like’ button took off.

Like is the New Fan

Recently I read a great article about how entertainment brands were seeing a surge in popularity on Facebook.

The bar was lowered in terms of commitment for people, Facebook thought they’d get a better conversion, while believing people would be more in favor of following a page if it was simply a ‘like thing’ rather than a ‘fan thing.’ And they were totally right.

Reading this article reminded me of the concept of temporary ties, as written about by Paul Adams here.

Temporary ties have always existed, but the web is bringing them to the fore. Think about some people you’ve only interacted with once. You don’t actually know who they are. A store assistant, a call center employee, the person you bought from on eBay. These are examples of your temporary ties. Temporary ties are much more common online than offline.

I think that the recent changes in Facebook have only added to the momentum of temporary ties’ popularity. We may not realize it but we use these temporary ties to influence our behavior constantly – I buy product that have highest reviews, I watch videos that have lots of “likes’, I look at similar items that others have also viewed, I read stories that have lots of votes, etc…

In almost every case I do not know the other people, but they have helped influence my actions. Because of the low level of commitment required, often just a click (a vote, a rating, a like, etc..) users are not cautious about engagement. I think in the future we will start to see many more site designers and architects bubble up these temporary ties and more users taking advantage of the benefits.

If you are interested, here are some great articles on the subject:

http://www.clickz.com/3640706
http://boxesandarrows.com/view/designing-for-social
http://www.slideshare.net/padday/bridging-the-gap-between-our-online-and-offline-social-network

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