I recall a scene in a movie (don’t recall its title, unfortunately) where a pop star, on stage, asks his frenzied fans (a lot of them!), ‘Do you love me?’.

He actually shouts this in his mike and his question booms into the stadium. The fans, understandably, scream back, ‘YES!!!’.

The star continues to sing and entertain his fans.

Does this sound vain? Of course, but it goes well with the image of a self-obsessed, hugely popular pop star, I suppose.

Now, cut to a well-referenced report on Facebook engagement by Momentus Media.

Around the same time in 2011, Momentus Media released a report titled, ‘Engagement & Interaction – A scientific approach to Facebook marketing’ (PDF). The report analyzed top 20,000 Facebook Pages and arrived at a lot of helpful conclusions to increase engagement via brand pages on Facebook.

One of them goes,

Asking users to â??Likeâ? gets an average of 216% increase in interaction rate
So for Facebook page admins, using a â??Likeâ? call to action is definitely an effective way significantly boost your interaction rate.

Not just Momentus Media; there are many other reports and opinions which say the same thing in different ways. A recent Mashable piece, for instance says,

Donâ??t be coy with your call-to-action. Be clear and blatantly tell your fans to â??like,â? comment or share your post. Youâ??ll be surprised what can you get if you just ask. These actions generate reach, since theyâ??ll end up in their friendsâ?? news feeds.

So, the question: does asking fans explicitly to ‘Like’ an update seem as vain as the pop star’s call-out to his fans, above?

Part two… does it even matter if it is vain (or not)?

I completely buy the call-to-action part in anything you post for a TG. Advertisements have call-to-action. Press releases do too.

If I were to possibly connect the ‘Click Like if you…’ callout by brands on Facebook to a television commercial, it may look like this,

TVC plays and at the end of it, there’s a message ‘Send us an email/text message if you liked this advertisement’… instead of the actual call-to-action, which in most normal circumstances gives details about where to purchase the product advertised or a destination (offline/online) to get more information.

You get the difference?

There IS a difference between a call-to-action to offer feedback for the message vs. a call-to-action to help the brand/product in a more useful manner.

But I do understand the purpose of the former. In a platform like Facebook, as the Mashable article explains, a Like means access to that Liker’s (!) friends via his timeline. And that is the viral holy grail of social media. The assumption there is simple – the more people exposed to your brand’s message (via the Facebook update), the more the chances of more and more people landing on your Facebook page… liking it, engaging with it and eventually helping the brand monetarily (a purchase, consideration to purchase etc.).

The only problem with this very-valid argument is the way the brand may be perceived when it explicitly asks the fans to do something that impacts the status message/update in question more than the brand itself.

When a brand puts something up on Facebook and adds a, ‘Hit ‘Like’ if you have experienced this too!’, the closer the call-to-action is to what the brand intends to sell/communicate, the better.

The Subway example in this blog post by Kissmetrics is perhaps the wrong way to go about this, in my opinion.

But then, Subway has other good examples too, like the Avocado July 4th post, given their focus on Avocado now.

So there! It perhaps boils down to personal choices on what you want your fans to think of your brand.

Are you interested in increasing your Facebook engagement metrics by explicitly asking fans to like the message more than the brand?

Would you rather not be explicit about it at all and feel the content should have inherent power (by being really good) to attract likes?

Or, would you want a middle path by making the call-to-action non-message and more brand… something to impact the brand and it’s message than a piddly Facebook status update?

Take your pick.

PS: A variant of this debate for Twitter would be the, ‘Please RT’ or ‘RT if you liked yada yada yada’. The same – as above – arguments apply!