Despite that fact that just about everyone who could legitimately be called a social media expert has stated their opposition to using fan numbers as the primary basis for measuring social campaigns, fans / followers / likes have essentially turned into the De facto standard. In part this is our own doing – we [social practitioners] cited our fan growth, threw it into reports, and made it the headline at the annual review. We set the stage but now rather than expanding out, it’s what can we do to get this one little number up – enter the gimmick.
Like fan counts, the contest, the charity donation for every follower, the freebie for a like, all were at one point novel ideas so when we first did them it wasn’t a bad idea, we weren’t trying to reach the world, we were trying to get people who had never “faned” a brand to do so, to get our existing base to recognize that we were on this new medium so we ignored their wants and expectations in order to just get in front. But now it’s the everyday: a SoCal billboard from a company I’ve never heard of promises $25 to an organization for my Facebook click. Their name isn’t Coke or McDonalds, is the entire world really appropriate to be targeting to become a fan?
It’s time for that to all stop. Not to stop running programs but to stop running them for the sake of picking up whomever we can. It doesn’t make any sense.
Whether the platform calls it a like, a follower, a connection, a circle member or whatever what we’re talking about is brand fans, people who we can hopefully connect with around what we sell, who may share a post, who want to comment back and give us an insight and that requires a mutual relationship – they have to be interested, we have to know why they are.
With a gimmick we know exactly why the person’s following but yet we pretend that’s not it. We pretend that everyone is ready to connect with our brand and just needed a push to make it happen. So we tell the tell the team we’ve added 200,000 people this quarter who want to engage with us and meanwhile our comments all start to read “first to post” or “give more stuff away”. They’re engaging all right, just not with what we offer.
Social as a tactic is young and there’s certainly going to me times where we decide to do something to get seen but we have to remember why we’re doing this – to connect, to be a part of the conversation, to get a chance to talk to our customer. So when we read that most brands can’t beat 1% engagement rates, can’t find the “ROI” [I’ll save that for another day] the first issue we should be thinking about is who we’re even bringing in to talk to that would make those numbers change.