Facebook’s Dislike Button. What’s Not To Like?

Speaking at a recent event in California, Mark Zuckerberg suggested that the social network would be introducing a new button. He said, ‘”We have an idea that we’re going to be ready to test soon, and depending on how that does, we’ll roll it out more broadly”. Although the Facebook CEO didn’t name it as such, it has been branded the ‘Dislike’ button.


If it is implemented, this will be an interesting new step for Facebook. The current Like button, that first appeared in 2007, was famously the result of a hackathon. It was proposed as an ‘Awesome’ button. Realising that many post of cats and people’s children were less than awesome, it transformed into the Like that we know today.  The success of the button is both its binary simplicity and the fact that it is a positive acknowledgement of the post. Even when a post is more serious or tragic, the action of Liking is widely understood to be positive and supportive.

For Facebook, there is a need to move forwards. At a time when many young users are switching to Instagram and WhatsApp (both owned by Facebook), they need to innovate to encourage retention. The challenge of a Dislike button, though, comes from its very nature. It’s a negative action. In a Wired article, Brian Barrett suggested that it will create a negative atmosphere that will simply put people off posting. Given the personal nature of these networks, it’s easy to understand why users will be discouraged if disapproval is as simple as clicking a button.

The negativity of the Dislike button could, potentially run even deeper though. Unlike Reddit, one of the benefits of Facebook is that posts are not ranked. Once you have two options, Like and Dislike, there will be an inevitable sense of competitiveness on posts, discouraging yet more users.

I’m sure Facebook are aware of the challenges, but they will need to tread carefully. Posts and shares are the lifeblood of Facebook and that in turn is what drives their advertisers. So in the end, the success of a Dislike button will probably come down to money.

Teenagers, Facebook and The Rise of Visual Messaging

“It’s Dead to Us. Facebook is something we all got in middle school because it was cool but now is seen as an awkward family dinner party we can’t really leave.” That’s how a 19 year-old American student described his generation’s relationship with the social media site in a widely circulated blog. This is not really a revelation. His views were evidenced by a teenage trend away from Facebook that was first identified by Pew Research in 2013 (and confirmed by the social media site themselves). In October 2014, a study by GlobalWebIndex found that Facebook’s user base grew 2% in the previous six months. The low growth is hardly surprising when you consider their user base is close to saturation point. However, the significant stat from the study was that teens were using the channel much less. 37% of young respondents said that they were ‘bored’ with the social network. Over the same period Tumblr saw an increased use of 120%. Popular with teens (and ad agency folk), its uptake has been driven by the humble ‘gif’. The ancient web-format has gained a new lease of life with highly sharable animated gifs of cats and celebrities.

Facebook has been aware of their teenage problem for sometime. They understand that young, early adopters are fickle when it comes to their digital channel choices. And thanks to mass smartphone adoption, that switch is happening faster than ever. There has been, for example a shift in messaging from SMS to What’sApp. The teen messaging channel of choice has quickly grown to over 700m users – nearly 3 times Twitters’ active user base. Fundamentally, teenage audiences are most active in messaging channels – and they’ll go where it is easiest, cheapest but above all, they’ll go where their friends are. A few years ago, they were using BBM. Before that, MSN was popular. It’s interesting to see, therefore, that the one Facebook product that remains relevant is their messaging app. A GWI study found that social messaging use grew by 50% in 2014, across all age groups.

Whilst messaging is still the driver of teenage online activity, the significant change has been the growth visual messaging. For today’s teens, pictures are better than words. This new found popularity of has been driven by smarphone cameras and apps such as Snapchat. GWI found that the picture app grew 57% – the fastest of any messaging app. UK teens especially love Snapchat, with 39% of them saying they use it compared to 15% globally (GWI). There’s an element of teenage rebellion about Snapchat. Part of attraction is that their parents (who are all on Facebook these days) don’t see the point of it. However Snapchat is also a bona-fide messaging app. Whilst it has gained a reputation as a place for ‘sexting’, it is an unwarranted tag. A 2014 University of Washington study found that the behaviour represented only 1.6% of users. The main use for Snapchat are is not to share amazing portraits or beautiful sunset pictures, but to share quick snaps with added comments or scribbles.

The real winner in the visual message channels though, is Instagram. Sure, it’s good for showing nice filtered photos, but spurred on by hashtags, selfies and numerous celebrity accounts, it has become the channel of choice for teenagers. By the end of 2014 it had overtaken Twitter’s user base and it continues to grow. Understanding the teen challenges, Facebook has been pretty shrewd in addressing them. When they bought Instagram for $1bn in 2012, observers thought it was an excessive sum for a company with just 13 people. In hindsight, given the level of uptake, that price seems like a bargain. After sniffing around Snapchat for a while (who reportedly turned them down), Facebook ended up buying What’sApp for $19bn in 2014. Facebook are aware that ultimately, no site is safe from a mass exodus of their users. Just look at the fate of Friendster or Myspace (and BBM or MSN for that matter). However, if Facebook are simply going to buy their most popular competitors, then the chances are, they’ll still be going in a few years time.

M&S turn a social media faux-pas into a gain!

I often say that M&S do mobile well. They also have a great social media strategy. Here’s an example of why they do it well.

Last week one of their Facebook administrators forgot to logout of the M&S account and updated her personal status on the corporate one by mistake. The status update was that she had now found her missing phone. Oops! Not the worst thing to put on a status update, but still, it isn’t really the done thing for a corporate account. Although M&S deleted the update, rather than ignoring it, they asked for other stories of lost and recovered items instead. They quickly got over 40 comments with tales of tragedy and joy, and 150 likes. Not a massive gain,  it shows how having a human face is important in brand social media.

Facebook Failures Infographic

As something of a Facebook skeptic (at least when it comes to a personal account), this handy inforgraphic lays out the history of problems with the social network. Interestingly, it was the failure of others, such as Friendster and MySpace that paved the way for Facebook’s success. So in spite of getting it wrong on a regular basis, the rise and rise of Facebook continues. Never mind the privacy, its the functionality that counts.

Facebook Deals launches in Europe

Facebook Deals, similar to Foursqaure’s Check-In Offers, launches in Europe from Monday 31st Jan. One of the first up is Argos, who are using it for charity donations. The first 10,000 people to check in through Facebook Places will see £1 each being donated to the Teenage Cancer Trust. With 1/3rd of the company’s sales coming through their website, and 60,000 plus fans on Facebook, it looks like Argos will find their 10,000 check-in’s pretty quickly.

Whilst the Argos deal is the most high profile, other brands including Debenhams, O2, Alton Towers and Mazda are also taking iniatives. YoSushi! who are offering 5 free plates and a drink for those checking in to selected restaurants. At a time when retail sales are taking a plunge in the UK, Facebook Deals may help drive some business back to the high street.

Why I’m not on Facebook (pt 3)

In my ongoing need to justify whey I’m not on Facebook, I have a couple of quotes that aptly explain some of the reasons:

Social-networking sites present a different kind of problem. Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendster and others typically provide value by capturing information as you enter it: your birthday, your e-mail address, your likes, and links indicating who is friends with whom and who is in which photograph. The sites assemble these bits of data into brilliant databases and reuse the information to provide value-added service—but only within their sites. Once you enter your data into one of these services, you cannot easily use them on another site.


Your social-networking site becomes a central platform—a closed silo of content, and one that does not give you full control over your information in it. The more this kind of architecture gains widespread use, the more the Web becomes fragmented, and the less we enjoy a single, universal information space.

Who said that? Tim Berners-Lee. I’m not saying that we should make all of our personal details available on the web, but what I do think is that using our personal information as a currency for advertisers is not good. It is inevitable that such data has to be kept behind a walled garden, which is entirely against the core principles of the web.


Why I’m not on Facebook (Pt 2)

Earlier this year I felt it necessary to explain why I’m not on Facebook (and no, I’ve never been to a McDonalds either). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against social media as such (look, I blog), but I outlined my reasons pretty clearly. I was also trying to avoid seeing The Social Network film, however, I finally went to see it this weekend (yes, I’m probably the last person to get around to it). It’s not a bad film, but it confirmed to me all the reasons why I don’t do the Facebook thing. The film confirmed most of the things on my list or reasons – they talk about writing in ink on the internet, I talk about the internet not forgetting – and my prime reason for not being on it, is the cliquiness. The whole concept of FB was about cliques, both preserving and creating them. So there you have it, I don’t do Facebook and as yet I have no compelling reason to do so (nor go to a McDonalds for that matter).