How Facebook’s Send button targets quality over quantity, & what it means for your business.

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Whether you run a personal,  SME  or major company website you will be aware of the Facebook Like button which allows your audience to share your site’s content with their friends. So you would have to wonder why, only a year after its launch and when it is being included on 10,000 sites a day, Facebook would choose to dilute the brand and release a “Send” button.

When Facebook launched the Like button last year it received some criticism  for being too public.  Once a user liked a page the link was visible to their entire set of friends (not to mention family members, old work mates and casual acquaintances) on their Facebook profile. Users began asking for a more private way to share content with only a select few friends or family members.  This request was realised in the Send button.

Facebook Like buttonIf you run a business website it may not be immediately obvious why you should include the Send button with your content.  Surely the key selling point of the Like button is that it publicly displays how many users liked your website or page? While the Send button doesn’t.

Yet, this is exactly why you should use it. Because it is private.

Say your content has been shared by 50 people, that piece of content will appear to these 50 users’ friends.  But we know nothing about these friends, many of them may not see the link while others may not be interested in clicking it. So, the true reach of the link is going to be far smaller than you would expect.

The value of the Send button lies in the fact that it forms a one-to-one, word-of-mouth, recommendation. So while the Send button will reach a fewer number of users it will reach a greater quality of reader, those who are more likely to be interested in your content (and more likely to act on a friend’s personal recommendation).

Facebook says of the Send button,

The Send button drives traffic by letting users send a link and a short message to the people that would be most interested. They don’t need to leave the web page they’re on or fill out a long, annoying form. Compared to the alternatives, the Send button has fewer required steps, and it removes the need to look up email addresses by auto-suggesting friends and Groups.

And there it is, Like will bring you quantity (users who may be interested in your content) while Send will bring you quality (users who are more likely to be interested in your content).

Thankfully you don’t need to choose between one or the other but just be sure not to ignore the value of the Send button.

The Send button is Facebook’s latest effort to position itself as the main messaging and communication tool on the web.  At the end of last year the company began a long term redevelopment of its messaging system to include SMS, email, private messages, IMs and status updates.  This “modern messaging system” is one for SMEs to watch as it has the potential to become a convenient and important way of communicating with customers.

But be sure to also keep an eye on what Google does.  Facebook’s announcement of the system late last year led to a fracas with Google, who prevented Facebook from accessing user contact information. And only this month Google conducted a  limited roll out of its Facebook Like button clone, called Google +1, in an attempt to bolster its Google Profile platform.

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