Like Me – If you’re an individual with a Facebook page, you like people to like you. If you’re a company or brand, you want people to really like you. But getting folks to hit the Like button is the beginning of a relationship you need to carefully nurture.

People devote more time to social media than to online games, email, search … combined!

The most popular location is Facebook, which is designed to help people connect in a disconnected world.

American internet users spend more time on Facebook than any other location. According to Nielsen, the largest site – over 800M people around the globe – has U.S. Internet users spending more than 53.5 billion minutes a month.

Globally, you can double that volume of online activity.

More than half of the users (65 percent) are adults. And half of the Facebook population returns to the site every day.

The Real Virtual World – People around the globe have found social media sites are excellent ways to develop relationships, share information/ideas, associate with people who share your interests and you well…Like. For more than 800 million people, Facebook has been their destination of choice and companies/brands follow people.
Source – Citi Investment

At this year’s F8 (Facebook developers conference), Mark Zuckenberg introduced a whole new set of “features” that are designed to attract even more users and keep them on Facebook longer.

Zuck’s goal is to become the destination that defines a person’s online life. To do that he’s attracting media products – music, movies, information, games – to attract even more people (as a country Facebook’s population is behind only China and India).

The site’s goal is simply to be the source people go first for news, entertainment. It’s no wonder it is also increasingly attracting companies that want to, need to, reach these users (consumers).

Companies and brands are like people. They like to be liked too!

While Facebook looks like a marketer’s dream come true – it not only has the numbers, it also has a huge volume of data about each “citizen” that they willingly share with partners at a cost.

More than a third of the Facebookers use mobile apps to keep track of their pages and people in their communities. While 97 percent consume their social media on their PC, 37 percent use their phone.

Although it is low right now, an increasing number of people are using their other mobile devices (tablets).

Women make up most of the visitors to Facebook and the most active Facebookers are in the 18-34 category. Women account for 62 percent of the page views while men are more likely to visit LinkedIn and Wikia.

Women watch more online videos but men spend more time (247M minutes per month) watching video online than women (226M minutes per month).

But it isn’t all just watching videos or visiting business pages for the Facebookers. They’re busy, very busy.

Source – ExactTarget

Life Online — Folks spend time online not just to find out something but to exchange information/ideas, watch videos, learn. The growing number of people on Facebook – mostly women – do more, lots more online and companies/brands have to tread softly/slowly and learn how to be a part of their lives.
Source – ExactTarget

On average, they have:

130 friends
Spend an hour a day on Facebook
Like nine pieces of content a month
Leave 25 comments a month
Become fans of four pages a month
Join 13 groups a month
It’s logical that a company, brand wants to be an important part of the Facebook community, which means getting them to interact with brands.

Constant Contact recently found that:

77 percent read brand posts, news feeds, special offers
17 percent share that information with others
13 percent post about the brands
But getting a reasonable percentage of the 800M Facebookers takes work, careful work.

Your ROI
No one has yet precisely determined if there is a return on investment for the time, effort, expense of building your brand online, but no one is willing to take the chance of being left behind…just in case.

It all starts with being liked, getting people involved.

Counting Your Likes – Unless you’re a movie/music star or political leader, having millions of people who Like you probably isn’t in the cards. Depending on your sex or age group, Liking a company or product means different things. Sometimes people expect something more, other times it simply means “I like this product.” Usually, the individual expects something in return.
Source – OpinionWay Research

While 93 percent of Facebookers like “Like” buttons at least monthly; the action/commitment means different things to different people. With some, it’s merely a way of social bookmarking so they can quickly find the location again.

A recent study by ExactTarget concludes that:

45 percent of Facebook users say they “Like” a company at least monthly, while 35 percent say they never “Like” a company.
44 percent “Like” something posted by a company on Facebook at least once a month.
“Like” is not the same thing as permission – 15 percent say “Liking” a company’s Facebook page should “Always” be interpreted as permission to post marketing messages that appear in a user’s news feed, while 39 percent say their “Like” should “Never” be interpreted as permission.
People who “Like” a lot of brands (11 or more) are more likely to be motivated by rewards in the form of coupons or exclusive deals in exchange for their “Like.”
Younger consumers (age 18-26) tend to use “Like” for self-expression and public endorsement of a brand.
Consumers 27 and older are more likely to expect something of value in exchange for their “Like.”
Among people that have “Liked” at least one brand, 31 percent have avoided “Liking” more brands because they do not want to push things into their friends’ newsfeeds.
The average U.S. Facebook user “Likes” an average of 14 companies/brands.

What Likers Expect
The company’s, brand’s goal is pretty simple. Get more people to “Like” them, become their brand advocates, become their social fans.

Unfortunately, only 42 percent of the Facebookers “Like” that way.

Many who “Like” the brand do it because:

58 percent to receive discounts, promotions
47 percent to see updates on company, person, organization in their newsfeed
49 percent want to keep abreast of the organization, people, activities
18-26 year olds simply use “Like” as a way of expressing…a like
Liking a brand isn’t a blank check to use the Facebooker’s name; and in the majority of instances, taking the position that he/she really likes your company, your product can be embarrassing to say the least.

Marketers, communications folks often equate the Like as permission to post messages on the Facebooker’s news feed. Facebookers for the most part also feel that information about friends should not be used by marketers…at all!

For the majority of Facebookers who Like a company/brand, they feel that is as far as the relationship should go.

Yeah But…
They aren’t interested in having their “Like” taken too seriously and they don’t expect to suddenly begin receiving highly-targeted, hard-sell marketing/communications messages.

Most Facebookers refuse to “endorse” any company or brand. For the rest of the Facebook community “Like” means like Like.

I Don’t Like You – All too often, marketing/communications people feel that just because an individual “Likes” them, they are expect to receive a constant stream of news, information, hard-sell about the company and its product(s). It’s an easy way to lose friends.
Source – OpinionWay Research

While users want to read the content, share the information with friends and post brand content, it is also easy to get a negative reaction from Facebookers. They can unsubscribe, disengage, “Unlike” the company or brand.

The easiest way to get Facebooker’s to leave is to continually post information that isn’t interesting.

Those who moved on found the posts/contacts too frequent, disagreed with the company’s/brand’s positioning, statements–or worst of all, had a bad experience with the brand.

Companies, brand managers and communications people walk a fine line as they begin to engage more and more with customers and users on a one-to-one basis. But with more than 800M (and counting) Facebookers out there brands simply have to work harder, do more to be Liked … and stay Liked.

The future of your brand isn’t about Facebook, it’s about being honestly social. Social isn’t a one-way street like your traditional advertising/publicity. Instead, it means being active in the communities that are in your brand’s space.

The gold miners of yesteryear didn’t chase all over the West (or other points of the globe) swishing, digging here, there, everywhere. They found a good location that looked meaningful, promising and set about working.

Chasing, counting fans, friends, Likes, followers, unlikes is fool’s gold!