shopping tools

Why Amazon Has "Like" Buttons…

I’ve been hearing a great deal about Amazon “Like” buttons and thought I’d do a little research and find out exactly what they are and what they do. We all know the basic idea, but I’ve seen a few interesting interpretations recently. I’ve heard of publishers asking (in some cases telling) authors to not only click the Amazon “Like” buttons on their own books, but also to ask other authors and readers to click it as well.

According to one web site, where it’s explained in very simple terms, the “like” button is a shopping tool, something that helps Amazon make recommendations to you as a shopper, and something that can be helpful to you if you actually bother to look at the books (or products) Amazon recommends for you. I never do, and I have a feeling most would agree with me. You can read more here, where this is all discussed in more detail.

At this page, on Amazon Kindle Boards, some tend to think that the “Like” buttons are hurting authors more than helping them. Allegedly, readers use the “Like” buttons as a way to rate a book they enjoyed instead of leaving a rating or a review. This, allegedly, leaves nothing but negative reviews. I’m not sure I agree with this. But I could be wrong.

On the same thread, Amazon replies to a letter and says this:

The “Like” feature lets you tell everyone the items you like on our site and will help us in improving your personalized product recommendations. We’re adding the “Like” button to item detail pages gradually, and it might be a while before it’s visible on all pages.

This web site claims that Amazon’s goal with the “Like” button is to create a more social place, like facebook. It’s a way to personalize your shopping experience and to interact with other people…so they claim. This seems to sum it up very well:

Three things will happen when “liking” an item on Amazon:

1. You will receive recommendations of items based on what you have “liked”.

2. You will be able to view the amount of other Amazon customers that have “liked” the same product as you have.

3. The item that you have “liked” will be added to a list of your “liked” products.

I recently purchased a feather duster on Amazon (We don’t have a WalMart within twenty miles because I live in a trendy tourist town that caters to high end clients with antiques and boutiques).I also don’t have time to go out looking for feather dusters. So I spent and hour checking them out on Amazon late one night, ordered one, and loved it so much when it arrived I clicked “Like.” After that, I was inundated with ads on Amazon for more feather dusters, so I know from experience that Amazon is tracking my purchases and making recommendations based on them. I have also clicked “Like” for books I’ve enjoyed, but I haven’t paid attention to the suggestions Amazon is giving me for other books. Basically, the suggestions are invisible.

But regardless of what the “Like” button is supposed to do, even if it does help book sales, which has not been proven by anyone yet, I would think common sense dictates that in order to click the “Like” button as I did with my feather duster customers should also have made the purchase and actually liked the item. Because if you’re clicking a “Like” button for something you know nothing about it defeats the purpose of the “Like” button and it’s misleading other consumers. At least that’s my take on the “Like” button. If anyone has any thoughts, please feel free to comment.