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Facebook Innovation: The Idea behind Facebook Like button

About:

Facebook is an online social media company, that is now known as Meta. The technology company offers services related to online social networking and owns platforms like Whatsapp, Instagram, and Facebook.

What was the idea behind the Facebook Like button?

Back in 2007, when Facebook became open to the public, and had 30 million users, the only way for people to engage with content was to post a comment on it. 

Leah Pearlman, one of Facebook’s product managers at the time, found that inefficient. He also realized that all popular posts had the comment repeatedly – Awesome or Congrats in the long string of comments.  

Along with a few other facebookers, she set out to build a universal, seamless way to express approval on the social network. They code-named the project “Props.”

Pearlman wasn’t the only one at Facebook thinking along those lines. Designer Justin Rosenstein told The Ringer in 2017 that he had been looking for “a way to increase positivity in the system”. Which was to help Facebook create “a world in which people uplift each other rather than tear each other down.”

Pearlman added the “awesome button,” as the group initially called it, to Facebook’s internal ideas board. Unsuprisingly, it got enough votes from their coworkers to spur a “hackathon”— which had earlier resulted in amazing Facebook features. Like tagging in comments, Video, Chat, Hip Hop for PHP, and Timeline.

On July 17, 2007, a team consisting of Bosworth, Rebekah Cox, Ola Okelola, Rosenstein, and Tom Whitnah coded the first awesome button, It was well-received and got the green light for development.

In November 2007, the team presented the awesome button to CEO Mark Zuckerberg for final approval. But surprisingly he rejected it, owing to concerns over privacy defaults. He also dissented on the name, preferring “like” to “awesome.”

However, data saved the like button. In a test, Facebook data analysts found that popular posts with the button actually prompted more interactions than those without. That finding turned out to be decisive. By February 2009, Zuckerberg had approved a final version of the like button, drawn as a thumbs-up in Photoshop.

Results:

The like button was an instant hit, and Facebook soon found ways to ingratiate it into the fabric of not just its platform, but the internet beyond. By 2010, you could like people’s comments as well as their posts. The like button also became the default way to follow publishers and brands on Facebook—and when you did, Facebook would use your like to advertise those same pages to your friends. 

The like button was an important feature in Facebook’s growth and it helped gauge engagement which along with its other ad products contributed to facebook’s revenue stream. 

What was set to be named awesome was indeed an awesome addition to Facebook’s set of amazing features like Video, Chat, and Timeline. Did you know these features came out of hackathons too? No? Read all about it here.  

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