Facebook promotion of Timothy’s coffee brews social media backlash for deluged Toronto company
Click through on the link to read the sad story of a coffee shop that screwed up a social media freebie offer about as badly as can be imagined. There are many layers of stupid here: creating a contest without allowing for the fact that the response might exceed their expectations, failure to communicate promptly (or, really, at all) when things went awry, and offering a material reward in return for an online action as frictionless as a Facebook "like."
The last mistake was the biggest, and is the latest example of the strange value that some companies place on "likes." Liking a product or cause on Facebook is the online equivalent of smiling at someone on the street -- it is an action, it does represent some sort of connection (though possibly a very weak one), and there are people out there who will refuse to do it, but ultimately it is not a meaningful form of engagement. The bar is simply too low. It's too easy, and therefore signifies very little.
If you want to know who your true fans are, ask them to do something for you that requires a little investment. You'll get a much smaller response, but it will come from the people who really care, and they're the ones who should get the free coffee.