Opinion: Enlightened marketers should see Facebook's 'dislike' button as a positive challenge

We shouldn't expect to see the 'dislike' button anytime soon, but the concept should be front-and-center in every marketer's mind, says Text100's Paul Mottram

Paul Mottram: Managing director, integrated strategy, Asia-Pacific at Text100

Facebook seems to be running the 'dislike' button idea up the metaphorical flagpole, to see who salutes.

Negatives are invariably more powerful than positives, so Facebook’s caution is understandable. And it’s worth noting that in the context Mark Zuckerberg is reported to have talked about this, i.e. posts about the Syria/Refugee crisis, he’s still talking about a means of expressing agreement: "Hey, I agree with you: this is a bad thing".

There are clearly significant issues Facebook must to work through in terms of user etiquette and risks of perceived misuse before moving in further in this direction. But perhaps the real reason for the absence of a more straightforward 'dislike' button is more commercial. Most big advertisers and marketers will hate it.

As a place where eyeballs congregate, Facebook is truly a powerhouse, and has to be on the consideration list for any consumer brand with an ad budget. It’s also a fantastic place for brands to build true communities with like-minded consumers. But most advertisers’ attempts to engage the Facebook audience based on their social graph are clumsy at best and more often just plain irritating. The idea of the dislike button would likely destroy Facebook’s Suggested Posts business overnight.

More enlightened marketers, however, should see it as a positive challenge.

As a discipline, we spend most of our time analyzing and celebrating the usually small percentage of the audience that looks at, engages with, or responds to our marketing. Consequently, our marketing models are flawed because we deal only with the small proportion of the audience on which we have data.

We tend to ignore the bigger addressable audience that has not yet been impacted.

Pretty much every concept of the buyer journey, from the old sales funnel to today’s more sophisticated, circular models, begins with people who don’t yet know, think, or feel anything about a brand. It follows that understanding more about this group and communicating with them more effectively will lead disproportionate gains further along the journey.

So while we shouldn't expect to see the 'dislike' button anytime soon, the concept should be front-and-center in every marketer’s mind – and even in their research – before launching social campaigns. How many would dislike my campaign and why?

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