How Facebook Interest Lists Change the Value of Like

There is a potential problem for marketers caused by Facebook Interest Lists. Depending on how popular Interest Lists become, it may force us to completely reassess the value of the Like.

You see, if I subscribe to the list Facebook Marketers, I get all of the content from the pages and people on that list. But I don’t need to like or subscribe to any of them independently.

I will get an occasional Interest List update in my News Feed. But otherwise, the only way I see this content is by viewing my specific Interest List.

Even if you don’t follow someone’s entire list, users now have a new option. When you go to a brand’s Timeline, you can either click Like or select Add to Interest Lists from the drop-down close by.

Add to Facebook Interest Lists

Let’s take our marketer hats off for a moment and put on our consumer hats. If you were the typical consumer, would you rather Like a page or add it to a Facebook Interest List? If you Like it, that page’s content will regularly mix with the content shared by your friends. If you add it to an Interest List, it will largely be separated to another location.

Sure, you will get general List updates in your News Feed, but you won’t get an update each time a member of the List posts something new. To get that, you’ll need to view the List itself.

What does this mean?

It could be bad for marketers. It could mean that what were your fans (now list subscribers) will see your content even less often than they do now. It could mean that you can no longer use ads to target a growing segment of your audience since they aren’t fans. It could mean that consumers will choose to add you to lists instead of Like and they’ll check those lists far less often than they do their News Feed. It could mean that you’ll be forced to buy more advertising to make up for the gap and reach the fans that you do have.

It could be good for marketers. If Lists take off, it could mean more people will see your content. I may not have heard of you before, but if I follow a general list that you happen to be on, suddenly you are in my daily routine. And maybe people won’t use Lists like I described above. Maybe they’ll use it as a discovery tool and start Liking more pages as a result.

It may just mean change for marketers. The Like may mean less, but you may reach more people. It may simply mean reassessing what each metric means and how we reach our customers. In the end, it may be a wash.

My guess: I think this has everything to do with revenue for Facebook. If Likes go down as a result of people using Lists for brand pages, brands may need to buy advertising to reach their customers at the rate they did before.

Or maybe not. It’s tough to say. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

How do you think brands will be impacted by the use of Facebook Interest Lists?