Clicking the ‘Like’ Button: More Powerful Than Voting

by Alex Margolin

The New York Times recently reported that film reviews posted by movie-goers on social networks are now impacting decisions in Hollywood:

Studios are finally and fully conceding that moviegoers, armed with Facebook and other networking tools and concerned about escalating ticket prices, are holding them to higher standards. The product has to be good.

It’s not just the film industry that’s facing change from below. In a forum on the LinkedIn social network about social media and the music industry, many users said they used social media to find music they liked. As one poster wrote:

I have enjoyed discovering a wider range of independent artists that I might not have otherwise known. I get recommendations from friends, and friends share links to You Tube videos and streaming media that introduce me to new music.

In addition, thanks to social media I’ve had the opportunity to personally interact with musicians through taped Q&As, facebook, twitter and more! It’s more fun to follow an artist’s work when they are interacting with fans directly as much as possible.

In fact, every consumer product is likely to face public scrutiny by social media users. According to a Pew Research Center study, 58 percent of Americans have searched online for information on products or services they are considering buying, and 24 percent have posted some form of customer review online.

Social media is the perfect hub for consumer reviews because it channels the power of word-of-mouth. When someone posts a review on Facebook, it goes directly to that person’s personal network. Word-of-mouth is the most powerful form of marketing, and social media is virtually all word-of-mouth between friends and acquaintances.

Using social media to express one’s preferences is now so common that even Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon compared the phenomenon to the recent surge of countries expressing support for an independent Palestinian state. He was quoted in Haaretz saying that it was essentially the same as clicking “like” on Facebook.

Ayalon may be right about the diplomatic ramifications of support for a Palestinian state, but he should also consider the effect on public opinion. As more people go online to find out what other people think, clicking “like” on Facebook may soon have more power than a vote in a real election.

Alex Margolin is HonestReporting‘s social media editor.