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Social Media Doesn’t Suck (But Your Marketing Might)

Posted October 24, 2011
Posted in Advertising, Branding, Marketing, Social Media, Trends

By Doug Stephens

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t read at least one article that debates the inherent value of social media.  The marketing community continues to hunt for the illusive equation that will neatly equate a brand fan or follower to sales.  One article I saw recently actually suggested we go to extent of sub-segmenting Facebook fans with psychometric precision to understand their underlying motivation for “liking” us in the first place.  Is this even possible? And if it is, how do we execute on the information?

Let’s consider this whole issue differently for a moment.  Let’s look at it from the Follower’s point of view but first, let’s clarify what a like or a follow really is and more importantly, what it is not.

In and of themselves, likes, follows, YouTube views etc. are not exchanges. They don’t imply a commitment to buy or to maintain a long-term relationship with you.  There is no promise of patronage or fidelity.  All that fans and followers are granting is their “permission” to communicate with them.  When they choose to like or follow they are simply telling you they’re willing to listen.  Ultimately, if your brand’s message is good enough, they may even be prepared to start a relationship with you – if you earn it.

So, what have you got to say?

Let’s start with that.  Now that you’ve been given permission to exchange, what does your brand actually have to say to its followers? How will you enlighten, enthuse, entertain or give value to them?  Will you design remarkable and creative messaging that they actually talk about or will you bore them with banal coupons, offers and other nonsense that goes largely unnoticed?  Will you respond to their Facebook fan posts in real time, with a consistent and trustworthy brand voice, or will you allow posts to go unanswered, as 95% of wall posts currently do?  Will you actively follow up on their complaints about your brand on Twitter or will you ignore them like 79% of all complaints on Twitter are ignored?  What will you do or say, that is worth their attention?  What value will YOU deliver?

The R.O.I on boring your followers isn’t great

Every day, most of us are exposed to up a staggering 5,000 marketing messages.  How many even prompt a second look?  How many are remarkable enough for us to tell someone else about?   If we’re being honest, the answer is probably, not many.

In the end, how can we expect people who gave us a chance to wow them, to stick around after we bore and disappoint them?  If the majority of the marketing that brands offer is of low value, how can we possibly expect social media to pay us back with high value? Frankly, social media owes us nothing.  Instead of asking what the value of a fan or follower is, we’d be wiser to ask what value we offer to those who follow us.  Isn’t that where the value has to begin?


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