The beginning of the school year was blistering hot. The ice cream truck made a regular appearance in front of the grade school at 3pm in the afternoon. On one particular afternoon, Billy and Tommy left school via the front door at the same time. Billy was a popular kid. Tommy was a wanna-be. Tommy offered to buy Billy an ice cream and Billy quickly accepted. After that, Tommy thought he was in … was part of the cool kids and friends with Billy. But that was it … Tommy never reached out to Billy and they never talked. Thus, it was the end of a perceived friendship.
Okay … granted … I am a poor fable writer. But you get the point as it applies to social marketing. The point above seems so childish and everyone can understand the absurdness of Tommy’s expectations. So why do brands expect to run a promotion, get users to like them, and then think they have built a social brand friendship? Aren’t we ready to stop talking about the value of a “like” and talk about the value of continuous engagement with prospects and/or customers?
This past week, I presented at a webinar for a publisher who had a person pull out at the last minute and asked me to fill in. I am always glad to share my social marketing knowledge and perspective (as my schedule allows). The topic was social media ROI … a topic I love to speak about because there is so much misunderstanding in this area. To be honest, I really did not know what the other presenters would say, but was glad to share the methodology behind the Social BrandAction™ Index I have defined.
One of the presenters described how her brand had attracted over 1 million likes on Facebook and at the time of a promotion had almost 20% engagement. So I went to their Facebook page and found that they have 1% engagement. That is poor and given the nature of their brand, it is horrible. Yes, it is easy to get people engaged when you are giving out ice cream or some promotion, but if you really want to keep them as a “friend,” consistent engagement is the only true metric (as shown in the “talking about this” parameter on a Facebook page). You get consistent engagement by provoking two-way conversation as opposed to broadcasting content, asking questions, taking polls, and covering topics that stir lively discussion – just as a few examples.
Hear me on this one – Facebook is an engagement platform and if you are going to have a brand presence there, you better think about activities that provoke engagement. Look at your performance metrics. Are you producing results?
And secondly, Facebook is far from being the only social marketing channel. In fact, it may not serve your brand very well. If it is not likely that your brand is apt to produce active conversation and engagement, think about other social marketing platforms that might serve your brand better. There are many more out there, and a gazillion people use other ones everyday. (For example, the most telling metric for Pinterest is “repins” while they do have “likes” and “comments” as well.) I am not saying Facebook is not a strong and important platform. What I am saying is that you should understand Facebook user behavior and use appropriate metrics to determine results. You should also have a full appreciation and knowledge of your target market’s behavior on various platforms and have a strategy optimized for participation and actions.
Far too many are still building the social field of dreams. They think “brand friendship” comes from one promotion causing a “like” and that defines success. If you are really content with this definition of success – have at it. But there are much more efficient ways to produce meaningful and measurable results with social marketing. Each solution should be very particular to the brand of reference. You should expect the people or agencies working your social marketing endeavors to be able to define a social marketing strategy and plan that clearly articulates creative concept, socialization plan, channels, and measurement of success. All of this complete with an integration plan for other online and offline marketing efforts. The only way to define this strategy is based upon target market and customer insights. If you are not getting that, your expectations of success are fantasy.
So ask yourself as a brand manager, “Why would anyone want to be my friend?” You better have a compelling answer from the perspective of the audience you look to attract as opposed to just drinking your own rhetoric.
Make It Happen,
PS – What I have addressed here may seem so simple and a no-brainer. The reality is that I continue to see an over abundance still thinking that buying someone a “social media ice cream cone” defines a brand social marketing effort. I hope you don’t think this will work for you. Drive true measurable success! Make it happen! Now!