As the buzz around social becomes stronger, many corporations coming from the era of tv and print just finished struggling through online advertising and are now finding themselves facing something completely transformative that pushes aside the principles decades of marketing experience has taught them. This has caused a reactionary response where marketers have been tasked with hitting metrics to claim victory to the stock holders, the board or just the executive team. The buying of a like has become a quick fix.
You can’t claim engagement if you’re buying it
Whether it’s a flier in a newspaper with a Facebook coupon, a tv spot with a Twitter url for a contest or an outright offer to buy fandom with a deep discount (see “Did This National Restaurant Chain Put Too Much Love Into the Like?” by Jay Baer) the result a purchase of a like rather than a connection with a customer. As this sort of buying becomes more common place, it’s not surprising that even as brands talk about wonderful ideas like engaging and building community, research from the Get Satisfaction blog shows that 43.5% of consumers are following brands for offers — and why not, that’s what they’re being told they’ll get.
Already missing the mark on relevancy, social sites penalize poor relevancy
With hundreds of connections per user noise has become so high that systems like Facebook’s EdgeRank now exist to tune down what a user, their friends, and even the overall “like” audience see from a brand page. Even on systems like Twitter that don’t have scoring of responses, the mere amount of information makes the less than relevant disappear into the bottom of a long stream. Thus the more a brand buys it’s following, the less each follower sees, or cares to pay attention to the brand. This becomes a cold reality when you discover that some brands are suppressed to over 80% of their audience.
This doesn’t mean abandoning growth goals, but rather settingt expectations about what they lead too
A brand that decides “I’m going to go out and advertise my page to build up” is wrong to use the word engage to refer to that program. Conversation is gone and while the activity is on a social channel, it is as much broadcast marketing as an email list or a weekly mailer… Even worse with virtually no segmentation offered by social networks, the existing loyal fan base is lumped in with the prospecting effort. Everyone becomes one jumbled mess.
On the other hand, a brand that says let’s insert a flier with orders to share a comment, or posts a sign inside our stores with a mention that you’ll find expert product insights, company updates and occasional offers on their social pages is building the expectation of dialogue and is attracting loyalty and certainly customers. A discount may be associated but the qualification is that you want to be an insider, a participant first, and get a little something in return for it in access and savings.
Bigger counts do not actually mean bigger reach or results
It’s a critical realization and once you step down the paid like road it’s very difficult to get back up the relevancy ladder.