dislike button

It was a long time coming, but it looks like it is inevitable.

The moment that advertisers and retailers have feared is upon us.  Facebook is adding a ‘dislike’ button to their platform.

We’ve had a glorious ride of nothing but positive feedback metrics (or only deletable posted feedback) but from this point forward, people who use Facebook to reach consumers will have hard metrics about detractors — about people who don’t like what you’re saying, offering, or selling.

But does this mean anything to me? What about my own personal brand?

I think that the dislike button could be revolutionary, for bringing more reality, health and utility into our social engagements. It can expand our depth of communication and learning about the things we do and how we could be better behaved.

“Wow — I never thought people didn’t like my pictures of baked goods.”

Feedback is real

You’re getting a reaction from people who see your content now — you just don’t know it. When we speak to each other in person we get all kinds of visual cues about the hearer and their emotional reaction to what we’re saying. We might not take on their feedback and change what we’re doing, but at least we have the chance to consider it. Without a dislike button, there was a breakdown in the transmission of any reactions that could help us know how the message was being received.

Feedback is healthy

It’s a knee-jerk reaction for us to believe that everything we have to share is valuable — it’s a kind of confirmation bias where we believe that what we think is awesome, is truly awesome, and others will confirm our opinion. But it’s healthy for us to hear a different perspective from time to time, and gain a less biased view of the things we’re engaged in. Just to balance the scales.

Plus, there are truly things that we often want to share with others that are definitely NOT positive, such as deaths or sickness of friends and family, or national or local tragedies. For these items, a ‘dislike’ shows more compassion than a like.

Feedback can help

And lastly, I think that we learn more when we get honest feedback. If we don’t get some correction every now and then, we’re in danger of assuming that we’re on the right track with our personal brand, and if we’ve learned anything from successful people, it’s that they tend to value their failures for the lessons that they teach them about how to succeed next time.

Now Zuckerberg himself has mentioned that he’s not that interested in a straight up-or-down voting like Reddit, and would prefer something that gives other alternatives to simply “Liking” something. So it might not even come to pass that we get an actual button that says “Dislike.” But my point is that it’s not the end of the world. It could actually be helpful in some ways.

And don’t get me wrong — I’m not naïvely assuming that this one new button will unleash a grand, new era of honesty and open dialog. Would that it did! But it’s not a death-knell for positivity in social networks. Because without real, two-sided feedback we’re not really communicating.

Without hearing the negative, we’re shouting into a crowd and looking for only a ‘thumbs up.’