What’s not to Like? Why corporates must prepare for Facebook’s ‘thumbs down’

Businesses must prepare for the implications of Facebook’s forthcoming ‘Dislike’ button.

On the face of it, Facebook’s reported decision to introduce a thumbs-down button as the natural complement to its ‘thumbs-up’ Like approval system should be no big deal.

Products and services are reviewed and rated continuously on a whole range of web platforms and social media – negatively as well as positively. It helps consumers.  It drives up standards. And it makes service providers accountable.

But is it as simple as that?

This is not the place to comment on those who have expressed concerns about the potential for cyber-bullying arising from the initiative, though it should be made clear that Facebook has expressed the forlorn hope that the new button will not be used oppressively.

Tricky when you consider that the origin of the thumbs-down was the Roman Emperor’s decision not to spare the life of the defeated gladiators of the Colosseum.

Leaving that to one side, what does the thumbs-down mean for corporates, who have spent the past years pouring their love and resources into wooing Facebook ‘Likes’ from consumers and stakeholders?

Here’s the rub: in the era of ‘clicktivism’ (some prefer ‘slacktivism’), it only takes one click to express your allegiance to a cause. Look at the growth of web campaign platforms like 38 Degrees and Avaaz, who pioneered the mobilisation of the digital generation in support of causes.

Don’t like a company because of its use of unsustainable palm oil? Click away on that thumbs-down.

Want to take on big pharma, the banks, frackers, you name it? It doesn’t take a digital expert to see how protest groups will harness this button.

But it’s not just the usual suspects that need to be ready. Any business or organisation likely to find itself at the wrong end of a group of motivated and digitally engaged consumers or stakeholders will run the risk of their ‘Likes’ being dwarfed but their ‘Dislikes’.

That means there is a threat to any organisation’s Facebook digital profile, one of it becoming a liability rather than an asset, and planning how to manage and mitigate that risk needs to start now: what better way than training your team with our proprietary Firebell tool?