Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why Liking the ‘Like’ Button Sometimes Scares Me

As most of you are aware, a ‘Like’ button can been found on almost every personal blog, social and business site. Hell, there’s one right above this post. I’ve read countless articles on the power of the ‘Like’ button. It’s a great tool that provides an opportunity for you to stay connected to your target audience. It also grants you exposure in newsfeeds which may in fact generate a more “viral” traffic to your site or page and possibly increase the sales and/or recognition of your specific product or service.

Important? Yes, I think so. But that’s not what I’m leading to here.

When someone ‘Likes’ your page, what exactly are they ‘Liking’? Is it the overall design of the page? Is it the product(s) you’re offering? Is it sweet, wonderful you? Is it an addiction to clicking buttons?

I’ve heard women speaking with each other about men they’re dating.

“I like him,” Woman #1 says to Woman #2. “But I don’t ‘like him’ like him.”

You see, it can become so complicated. And the answers to these questions are still not what I really want to talk about. My actual focus is on ‘Liking’ the books of authors whose work we haven’t read. That’s right, books we have not opened and read. Yet because they ask us to, we click ‘Like’. Like a favor. Like somewhat of a… lie.

It’s one thing to ‘Like’ an author’s page, but to say we ‘Like’ the book they wrote, but haven’t read seems quite misleading. Would you ever say you ‘Like’ the food at a restaurant you’ve never dined in?

Let’s face it, as a writer my main objective is to be read. After that, I want to know the reader enjoyed what he or she read. I want to know if they ‘Liked’ it. I want to know if they hated it. Okay, I really want to hear them say they ‘Loved’ it, but I don’t know if that button exists yet.

In truth, I worry that my desire to get my books ‘out there’ will lead me to only look at the numbers (i.e. # of books sold, income earned, sales ranking, etc.) and not on the satisfaction of my reader. I worry that fishing for “Likes’ will ultimately override the honesty of reader feedback I receive. And I’m starting to see that from other writers. I don’t want it to appear I’m judging or bad-mouthing any writers. We all want success and follow different roads there. I do my upmost to help the writers around me achieve success too. And I want success as much as the next guy, but for me, I don’t want people clicking the ‘Like’ button for my book unless they read it and truly ‘Like’ it.

I mean, are eight million ‘Likes’ worth more than the genuine joy one reader feels about your words?

Well, is it?


  1. I don't know...eight million likes? That'd be pretty damn cool.

    Okay, actually, your point is concerning. The 'like' button should be called 'I'm too lazy to write a review' button or 'I don't have enough time to write a review' button or 'I actually didn't read your book but want everyone to think I'm reading more books than they are' button.

    There's so much media hopping going on that I wonder too how much people are really absorbing anymore, and beyond that, what of that matters to them?

    It's frustrating to be judged without critical feedback, even if it's positive like you said. "I'll just keep pretending the 'likes' are about sweet, wonderful me," Woman #1 says to Woman #2.

  2. I like (there, I said it!) Erin's interpretations of the 'like' button.
    Empty flattery is nice, but it's still empty. I'd rather have a small core of readers who would worship me for my awesomeness.

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  4. sadly, 'like' is a bit ambivalent these days, and, yes, it is the easy way out.

    i agree with laura and erin--give me solid feedback, not platitudes. and don't praise my work unless the praise is warranted..then, feel free to pile it on as much as you'd, um, like.

  5. The central and simple function of Like buttons is endorsement. I'm very hesitant to Like a Facebook page for any author whose novels I haven't read, probably to the chagrin of some friends of mine. I do take it too seriously; some will still Like me right away. I busted out Dislike/Like/Love on my blog posts so people could respond that way if they weren't Comments-inclined, though in that case they were always specifically responding to the corresponding text.

    minor typo, 4th-from-last paragraph: "as I writer my main"