Why Would Anyone Want to be Your Friend? – A Brand Question

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,
Social Steve

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!



Filed under behavior, brand communication, brand marketing, brands, Facebook, marketing, Social BrandAction, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

4 responses to “Why Would Anyone Want to be Your Friend? – A Brand Question

  1. Jim Matorin

    Two thoughts this morning: 1.) Engagement takes commitment. I agree Steve, but few people/organizations have staying power or just do not understand the art of engagement; and 2.) Are there any stats out there about the amount of time people spend on FB friends vs. following brands. I just wonder when it comes to FB as a B2B tool since I think people get on FB and do the friends stuff first.

    • Jim – the real question is what does it mean to follow brands on Facebook. We learned from FB that only 16% of brand post make it to their “likes” newsfeed. There must be an engagement strategy, if FB is used, to a) get “likes” actual communicate with the brnads, and b) get brnad posts to show up on “likes” newsfeed.

      Best, Steve

      • Jim Matorin

        Your comment has my wheels turning this morning. Thank you. As your point out the engagement strategy needs to be executed ongoing.

  2. Tommy Van de Voorde

    Engagement and bonding is the key. I often come to the fact that companies who don’t have a thought trough idea, about social media.
    Simply focus on the likes, followers and number of fans.

    To put it simple, these things can be bought.

    Yes of course it’s a numbers game, walk down a thousand doors and you will have a higher chance on catching a costumer then a hundred.

    But in this case its more a fact of ‘hey, you can knock on my door, it’s ok I like you’
    then ‘Hey my door is wide open, give it to me’

    If we gather 500 likes for a client with a target audience, they will in the first place become fans. Then only in a second step they convert to customers. And we address them as such. Providing a clear offer.

    Between these steps you build up a relation. An interaction of understanding and trust, personalisation and engagement. On both sides.
    And as we all know it will take time and effort. Commitment and strategy.

    I agree with you, and further more sustainability on ROI can only truly be achieved by it.

    Some of our clients have no use of 2000 likes from the middle east, who will never pass the fan stage. If they even become fans. Not able to accommodate them as customers.

    Nevertheless we consider every person valuable, don’t get me wrong.

    I can keep going on about this 🙂 I just wanted to respond as my eye fell on this post in LinkedIn (fyi) 😉

    Thank you for sharing!

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