The Meaning of a “Like”

Facebook has a “Like” button.  But radio has been focused on what people like for years.  We’ve taken requests and fielded phone calls.  We’ve done music and perceptual research to find out who wanted to hear what.  We’ve learned what music is selling or being downloaded the most.

While we relied heavily on getting all that info about what people liked or didn’t like, we never really had a way to take it a step further, and get those people together who shared opinions in common.  Even though we might make a reference to how we were the most popular station for such-and-such a type of music, or the station the whole office could agree on, we never any real shared experience among groups of people who liked what you did.

Now, we’re on social media.  We’re hoping people “Like” what we post.  Or re-tweet what we put on Twitter.  Or forward our videos on YouTube.  We’re learning to engage with people rather than just broadcast at them and get the results later.

Here comes another step in that direction.  Search engines are now working to take in that information … what people like, what they endorse … and use it to give better search results.  For some time, sites like Yelp and Angie’s List have sought to get average folks to review businesses to help others make decisions about whether to patronize those businesses or not.

This is not just a high-tech phenomenon.  For years, people who provide one sort of service or another have sought to have their clients recommend them to others.  Word-of-mouth is a powerful phenomenon.

Now, those word-of-mouth recommendations … those reviews … those “likes” … are being brought into the process of search engines finding you the best results of what you’re searching for.  Currently, radio stations are not terribly concerned about how they show up in search engine searches, because we have a transmitter to talk to our friends.  But personal endorsements are making their way into the search process.

At Google, they’re experimenting with their “+1” add-on, where you’ll be able to click their “+1” button to show you like or endorse or recommend something.  We showed you this piece late last week on our Chris Miller Digital Facebook page.

At Bing, they’re actually incorporating Facebook Like-ing tools as an integral part of their search.  When you have a Bing toolbar, you can Facebook-Like anything you come upon on the web.  Plus, when you search for something, you’ll see Facebook data in your search in a couple of different ways.  If you have Facebook friends who have “Liked” something, their names could show up in your search.  You can see their video explanation here.

For example, let’s say that you were looking for a hardware store near you.  In the past, you might have gotten a list of places near you that the search engine you used would have collected for you, ranked in the order that their algorithms would have come up with.  You might have started at the top of the stack and worked your way down.

However, using search results with Facebook data as part of the results, you might look down the list of hardware stores to see if one of your friends “Liked” one of them.  Or, you might check the top several listed, to see how many people “Liked” each one.

Up until now, a whole industry has arisen online that radio hasn’t really worried about.  Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are valuable services for businesses who don’t have a way to instantly talk to their fans using tried-and-true, widely accepted technology … like radio.

But what does it mean when all this search stuff gets wrapped up with friends’ recommendations and endorsements?  If you have a Facebook “Like” button on your important pages of your website, could that now translate into new people finding out about you?

Seems to me that getting people to “Like” us just got that more powerful.  What is it that people really do like about us?  That seems to be the place to start to build those endorsements.  We can fill our Facebook pages with jock appearances, special contests and other content that may or may not have anything to do with our brand.  However, my guess is that if what people love about us is the basic stuff we’re known for … the quality or quantity of songs you play, a compelling talk show, or weather and traffic on the 8’s … we probably ought to make sure we’re engaging with people over the stuff they love about us.

Chris Miller

PS — Just thinking ahead, Facebook Likes are probably now more important than comments.  And, if you’re a station that targets the Millenials, those folks younger than Generation X … these people are more clan-oriented and concerned with what their friends and contacts are doing.

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