No one likes a beggar. We sneered at grade-grubbers in high school and college. We avoid all contact with panhandlers on the street. We change the channel when we see the latest victim of a sex scandal groveling for our forgiveness. With all of this animosity towards those who beg us for something, why are we so eager to click the "like" button just because someone asks us to?
Personally, I have never been fond of the like button. Back when you could only "like" a picture or a status update it made sense. It was your way of approving of someone; a virtual high-five. Now, however, you can "like" nearly anything on facebook (and even off facebook). The like button is so ubiquitous and has so many various meanings that it has lost just about all of its value. Perhaps this is why so many companies are having such a hard time placing dollar values on social media - one of their main success metrics just doesn't have real value any more.
Nothing irks me more than seeing a company begging for a "like" from consumers. In many cases it's almost a con: "like us to enter a contest" or "like us to learn more." Often the user will be given his instant reward and be left floundering in the digital wasteland, spending months seeing pointless updates from the brand. I have only ever "liked" one brand on facebook, and I got so tired of seeing new store openings litter my news feed that i promptly revoked my "like." Because number of likes is viewed as the ultimate success in social marketing, companies will do anything to collect likes and then never engage with these users afterwards.
Based on what I read online and various conversations I have been a part of, many client-marketers measure social media success by facebook likes and twitter followers. To me this is analogous to measuring search success by the number of keywords in your campaign. You use keywords to target and drive visitors to your site with the goal of taking some sort of action. With facebook we should be using those who "like" us as a mailing list of sorts. We should now target to these users and get them to take some form of action. Even though the "like" is mostly without value, we should reward those users who give us a digital thumbs up.
Instead of amassing "likes" that mean very little, marketers should look at the value that each of those "likes" can bring the brand. If a user has taken the time to click the like button for you, basically saying you are virtually cool, dont be a Regina George and abuse those who make you popular. Instead, take advantage of the network you have built up to speak your praises and spread your message. If you give back a little to your fans, they will return the favor exponentially.