To be heard, noticed and appreciated is a deep human need. Does the like button fulfill that need? Maybe it does, both ways?
For sure, the like button is good for something! Consider the following suggestions.
When readers and viewers click the like button it is a way for us to get instant feedback about who's been reading what we shared and to know what they thought about it. In more than one way, the like button is a wonderfully simple way to pay someone a valuable compliment. And why is it a valuable compliment? Well, for one, you're saying you like what they are most occupied with right now. With the click of a button you communicate that, in one way or another, you share the same view and that you have something in common. (Note! Retweeting twitter updates has something of the same effect.)
Find Your Voice & Inspire the Voice of Others
Stephen Covey in his book The 8th Habit explores what he claims is our quest to "find our voice and inspire others to find theirs". Clicking the like button might be the "embodiment" of habit 8 in that we by clicking a button encourage others to continue sharing and indirectly tell all other readers what we like. A trace of hundreds of likes will surely tell the world quite a bit about who you are as a person. Over time, the sum of all the like buttons you press, become part of the fabric of your personal online brand.
The Original Idea Behind the Like Button
Of course, one of the virtual web 2.0 principles behind the like button is "user generated content stage two". The interactive web has allowed anyone to share anything anywhere. Once this grew to a reality it is only natural that the next step is "user liked" rating and visibility. The more likes the higher the visibility, based on the assumption that liked content is better more relevant (and possibly more important) content.
Another brilliant concept that empowers the like button is by how we like and share across different websites. In this way web traffic on one site can literally have a ripple effect to a related facebook group and visualize who among your friends and contacts like the same website.
A wonderful way to follow "the likes" of your friends could for instance be by visiting likebutton.com. This type of functionality shows how likes are reflected almost as if you are the originator of "the liked content" itself.
For this and other reason some people press the like button often for selfish reasons, simply by how it makes them more visible online. That's why some networkers not only post and share relevant content with their connections, but also follow what their friends are sharing, letting them know what they think by "liking them" or anything else someone else has shared. Also, instead of participating by having to comment with well thought out sentences, clicking the like button is a quick way to do just that.
I Like You
However, in my view, the most wonderful thing that inspired me to author this quick article is the double meaning of the like button. I believe the real driver among friends, is the combined message of "I like what you shared", and the possibly far more important signaling than that:
|We're really saying: "I like YOU"|