How far will a business go for a Facebook like?
Tenants in a Salt Lake City apartment building found a notice taped to their doors last week instructing them to "like" their apartment complex on Facebook. The posting, a contract addenda, threatened tenants with a breach of contract if they didn't "like" the apartment complex, City Park Apartments, within a five-day period. Tenants, many of whom had already signed leases with the building, took to local news outlet KSL-TV as well as the apartment building's Facebook page to complain about the policy.
“I don’t want to be forced to be someone’s friend and be threatened to break my lease because of that,” tenant Jason Ring told KSL. “It’s outrageous as far as I’m concerned. It’s a violation of my privacy." The addenda also gave the apartment building permission to post photos of tenants and visitors on the company's Facebook.
Zachary Myers, a local lawyer specializing in tenants rights, told KSL that he wasn't sure that forcing tenants to sign the addenda was entirely legal. He cited discrimination against elderly people or disabled people who might not be able to access Facebook.
City Park Apartments has since withdrawn the addenda. A legal representative posted a statement earlier this week on the apartment complex's Facebook page apologizing for incident, saying that the original intent was to make sure photos taken during a community pool party could be legally posted on the company's Facebook page. They have since shut down their Facebook page, which was flooded with bad comments and a 1.1 star rating since news broke of the required likes.
The quest for Facebook likes, considered by some as an organic popularity metric of a business or brand, has driven some companies to go to absurd lengths for an approval click. A Dutch fashion brand called Stussy attempted a racy campaign in 2012 called "Strip for Likes" in which a model would strip off a new layer of Stussy clothing — the photo would be posted online, of course — each time the company's Facebook page hit a new "like" milestone. The company expected controversy for the campaign, though it wasn't able to generate more than a couple hundred likes to its page.
Then there was Pepsi's "Like Machine," in which the soda giant built a vending machine that only accepts Facebook likes, not cash. The machine, set up in Antwerp, Belgium, on the night of a Beyoncé concert, dispensed a free can of soda for every like generated by a user, who could either use the vending machine's touch screen option or log in and like the company on their own phone.
In 2011, a tiny Swiss village, Obermutten, with a population of 78 people, decided to drum up tourism buzz by posting a video on Facebook promising to to print out the profile picture of every person who liked their town's page and post it on the town bulletin board. The campaign went viral, soon drumming up thousands of likes, and the town bulletin board adorned with printed out photos quickly filled up. The town, honoring their promise, took to the sides of local buildings, and residents all pitched in to help and post the signs. The campaign successfully garnered close to 10,000 additional likes on their page, and 10,000 printed out profile pictures to match.
But for all these efforts, how much is a Facebook like actually worth? Depends on whom you ask, with different research and marketing groups valuing the button click anywhere from 21 cents to $136.38. One group, Forrester Research, believes that a Facebook like is worth absolutely nothing.