Study: One Facebook like can ignite a current of likes

B2B companies accept the power of word-of-mouth marketing. These companies know the weight that a recommendation from a colleague about their services or products carry. B2B firms know that all it takes is one positive testimonial from a current customer to attract the attention of a new one – it can carry more influence than hundreds of pieces of marketing collateral.

Yet even though B2B companies wholeheartedly embrace word-of-mouth marketing, they remain resistant towards social media platforms like Facebook. B2B companies say they lose that precious personal connection since the communication is via technology. However, a study shows that Facebook offers the same power of word-of-mouth marketing while deflecting criticism and highlighting positive feedback.

According to a study published in the journal Science, liking an article will encourage friends to like it as well, even if the reporting or writing isn’t that great. The study found that unfair negative reaction will not result in other users disliking the article. Instead, it will spur brand champions with a user quickly counteracting a thumbs-down view with a thumbs up.

The New York Times originally reported on the study:

The experiment performed a subtle, random change on the ratings of comments submitted on the site over five months: right after each comment was made, it was given an arbitrary up or down vote, or – for a control group – left alone. Reflecting a tendency among the site’s users to provide positive feedback, about twice as many of these arbitrary initial votes were positive: 4,049 to 1,942.

The first person reading the comment was 32% more likely to give it an up vote if it had been already given a fake positive score. There was no change in the likelihood of subsequent negative votes. Over time, the comments with the artificial initial up vote ended with scores 25% higher than those in the control group.

For B2B firms, this study supports the theory that investing in Facebook does offer a return on investment. Businesses should create a Facebook page and post content regularly. Why? Because, according to this study, likes offer a great and cost-effective tool that holds the some sway as traditional word-of-mouth marketing. When one of your customers likes a post, more will follow resulting in your firm’s name staying in the forefront of your customers’ minds and possibly leading to more business.

Additionally, through negative comments, brand champions will organically begin to take shape. These brand champions will counteract any negative likes and add greater weight to your business’s overall brand.

Similar to word-of-mouth marketing, a like on Facebook from a post from your business will persuade other followers to also “like” your business post. The “likes” will set off a social media domino effect resulting in your company’s name being seen by numerous current and potentially new customers.