Robert Gentel wrote:
That's not accurate, Facebook let's them target ads to demographics but lets them do so to anyone, regardless of whether you liked them and liking them doesn't help them in this way, it helps Facebook that way. Facebook then uses this data to target ads, but the companies asking you to like them are almost always doing so because they want eyeballs, it's almost never for the demographic data (which is more useful to Facebook.
Once you "like" them, they can send free ads to you instead of having to pay for the demographically targeted ones. You are subscribing to their ads and that is their motivation, it's almost never data collection but a free audience for promotional posts.
A few other things.
It generally takes a good 7 views of something before someone actually plunks down cash and buys it, whether online or off. With the "like", you are getting a company's stream and, as such, they are serving a view or 2 to you. This doesn't mean, of course, that EVERY time you see something 7 times, you buy it. It's more like, people hem and haw as they look. So they are giving you a few more peeks.
Social media marketers (whether formal or informal) are also looking to generate some buzz and conversation. If you see a cute ad or something such as that, you might talk about it (e. g. remember the Old Spice ads?). Even offline, your talking about something is another "view" (never mind that there isn't anything visual. It's more that it's another nudge to you).
There have also been some studies on the quantification of fans and likes but I don't think those #s are accurate or, if they are, they probably aren't accurate for terribly long. It used to be, if I am recalling correctly, that a "like" was worth something like $70 (I doubt that # is right).
Plus #s add up and people do tend to follow a herd mentality. 5 likes? Meh. 50 likes? Interesting. 5,000 likes? It MUST be awesome.
Plus the act of liking goes into your stream. You hear that 17 of your friends liked something, so you check it out. Again, it's another serving, another view.