The Pressure of Increasing Likes and Followers

I am sure you have heard this question before – “What is the value of a like or follower?” At the same time, some of the same people ask, “Why don’t we have more followers or likes?”

pressured social mangerHere is the crux of the issue … on one hand your management believes that you need to be active and successful in social media marketing. Everyone is doing it, so it must be important. On the other hand, your management does not understand (and maybe you do not as well) what successful social marketing looks like and how it might be measured.

Well over three years ago, I answered that for you. Having knowledge of the points within the referenced article is key while managing social marketing and reporting metrics to your management. I highly recommend you review the article and become well versed with the approach.

But the point of this article is to take it one step further (assuming you understand “What Social Media Marketing Success Looks Like“). There comes a time when your management will ask you, “Why don’t we have more followers or likes?” In the back of your mind, you must understand that this metric by its self is meaningless. I always say, I could get any brand one-million likes … we’ll just give an iPad away to anyone that likes us. OK – so I am being a bit dramatic. The point is that it’s important to get followers and likes, BUT it is even more important how you communicate to them and keep them engaged with your brand.

Remember, Facebook, Twitter, and all the other social platforms are NOT your community. The social platforms own the users, not you, and Facebook and others change their policy just about every month. Your objective is to drive users to your site; your community; a place where you control everything. At the same time you want your audience to be comfortable getting your brand communication, inspiration, and engagement where they prefer. They may just get brand content on Instagram for instance because that is THEIR digital preference and behavior. It is a delicate balance to strike.

You might clearly understand how to drive success with social media and that it is not just about followers and likes. But you must also be prepared with the reality that you will be questioned on your brand’s follower and like numbers. Everyone who has ever had some degree of social media responsibility in a company has experienced this.

So here is the reality. (I hope executive management is reading this as well as social marketing directors, managers, strategist, etc.) When the brand is feeling growth pressure, someone will evidentially ask, “Why don’t we have more followers?” I have been asked this question in every position (fulltime and consulting) I have held. It would be nice if you could explain to management everything that was included in the referenced article, “Know What Social Media Marketing Success Looks Like”, but this is not the time. At that point, you must have tactical plans to increase followers and keep management happy. It is important to drive results that concern management. But you cannot stop there. You must have a strategy and plan in place to move new followers to the digital assets you own – your community and your site.

In summary here are the three important takeaways:

1) Educate your company management on what successful social marketing looks like before they ask. Produce weekly reports that highlight performance metrics even if they do not ask for them.
2) Be prepared to have a tactical plan when you need to increase users (including paid social media).
3) When you do grow followers and likes, have a strategy and plan that keeps them engaged with your brand and motivates them to share with others.

Social marketing positions come with much pressure. You can alleviate much of the pressure if you are a) proactive, b) responsive, and c) strategic in building relationships far beyond simple likes and following.

Make It Happen.
Social Steve

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Filed under Facebook, measuring social media, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

Here is an Example of Why I Love My Social Marketing Job

One of the things I love about being a professional social media engager is that I get to connect with people. There is nothing better than getting the feeling of helping someone. Are you doing this with your social presence?

social media helpThe best way to win people over is to help them. This seems pretty straightforward and obvious, but how many brands actually do this. Social platforms are a strong enabler for helping people and not enough marketers are leveraging social in the proper way.

As some of you know from my recent blogs, I head up audience development for DivorceForce. DivorceForce is a safe and supportive community for people navigating all aspects of divorce. Recently, I was monitoring Twitter and other platforms for people looking for help as it related to their divorce. I came across one user that merely mentioned she was pursuing her divorce. My response is below:

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A simple, “wishing you the best” type of response. A small expression of caring. She then responded with a “thanks”, but the second response really surprised me …

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Friends were not there, but she thought the response was from a bot. I quickly replied …

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Once she followed DivorceForce, I DMed her my email to contact me. This opened the door for a more personal engagement, opportunity to help an individual, and shine as a brand. I love this! What more could a professional look for? An opportunity to help people and at the same time represent a brand in a positive light.

Now I know that DivorceForce has a natural social mission of helping people. Not all marketers have this luxury with their brand as it relates to having a most positive social presence. But I do believe that EVERY brand has an opportunity to make a positive difference for their audience.

If you want an example of a brand that does not have an inherent social mission, but creates great care and value for their audience with their social presence, check out Dove. Just Google them. Look at what they do for self-esteem for women.

Now, I want to give you a challenge. We are approaching the end of the year for 2015. How about you make a commitment to using social to help people for the rest of the year. How about you use social, not to push your agenda, but to help your audience. I will bet that if you take this challenge you will hit 2016 with great momentum building your audience and building advocacy for your brand. Are you ready?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under audience development, brand marketing, brands, marketing, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

Social Followers – What You Need to Understand

During most weeks at work, I stop to think about what I am doing and what I should share with you on my blog. This week I was working on increasing brand following and thought it would be good to share with you some tips and perspective. But there was one problem – what I do for my company’s brand, I do not practice for my Social Steve brand. I had a dilemma. How could I make recommendations that I do not practice?

social followers

So I need to share some honesty about the Social Steve brand and my company’s brand. With regards to the Social Steve brand, I really do not care who follows me. I do not mean this with any disrespect to anyone. I just feel that if what I have to say resonates with someone and they find good value out of what I have to share, I am truly thrilled to have them as a follower. If it doesn’t, no harm done. My life does not get enriched based upon having 5,000 followers or 500,000.

But with my professional job, things are different. It’s not that I solely care about a follower count. My main objective is to get potential users to experience the brand on our site. And part of the user journey is to experience the brand on social channels, so I want to increase following numbers on the brand’s social channels.

Remember, numbers do matter, but it is not just about the numbers. You want to have people following that really care about what your brand has to offer. You want them to share the positive experiences with your brand with their network.

So the one important aspect that is the same for a personal following and professional following is to be useful and/or entertaining to your audience. This is the most important factor for winning over any type of audience.

I created of list of other things you should do to create a strong following on social channels. After I created the list, I realized that I do not do all of them for my personal brand but certainly do so for my professional endeavors. The truth of the matter is that I do not have KPIs (key performance indicators) for my personal brand. Thus I just wing it for my personal brand. Maybe that is okay, maybe it is not. But for a professional brand you do have KPIs and you cannot just wing it. This is a very key distinction.

So here are three added tips for creating a strong brand following for commercial and professional brands:

Curate your influencers and audience content and postings. Show your audience you are listening to them. Share their valuable and entertaining information with the other members of your audience.

Don’t be the know it all; let others shine. Many brands feel that being the leader in a competitive space hinders them from sharing other good content on their topical area. That doing so diminishes their authoritative role in the competitive space. This could not be further from the truth. Being a leader in a particular space means that you provide the most intriguing original content AND that you research the space for other valuable information. Sharing what you find with your audience reinforces this persona.

Credit others that contribute to your industry. This point is an extension of the previous point. Not only do you want to share other valuable information, but you must also credit the source. This is not only ethically correct, but doing so is likely to broaden your audience. When you credit others, they likely retweet or repost your mention of them. By doing so, the referenced contributor shares your brand with their audience.

At the end of the day, you need to make sure you understand what you are looking to accomplish in your social channels. You need to take appropriate actions to accomplish your exact objectives. I highlighted this by describing for you my different approaches to my personal brand and company brand. Hopefully I have inspired you and led you on a path of success.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

Footnote – I head up social marketing and audience development for DivorceForce. DivorceForce is a safe and supportive community for anyone to navigate all aspects of divorce. Please checkout and share with anyone that is looking for information on and assistance with divorce.


Filed under brands, social media, Social Steve, SocialSteve

The Theory of Relativity – Marketing Relativity That Is

theory of marketing relativity

Albert Einstein defined the theory of relativity by stating that measurements of various quantities are relative to the velocities of observers. So for example, if you are riding on a train that is going 50 mph and another train passes right by you at a speed of 75 mph, your perception is that the train passing you is going 25 mph. If someone is standing on the side of the track they see the train going the true 75 mph, which is substantially faster than the perceived 25 mph.

The point is, as it pertains to “marketing relativity”, that marketing communication and claims are interpreted differently dependent upon where your audience member stands.

Every brand must do a deep and true assessment of their target audience’s perception of their brand as well as the industry the brand competes in. Having this understanding will allow brand marketers to evaluate the messages and claims they make to the target audience. Marketers will understand what messages will be perceived as accurate and compelling.

While every brand wants to make the bold communications filled with superlative adjectives and superior positioning statements, these claims may not be believable by the people you are attempting to attract. If you are an unknown brand, the first step is to create awareness. If people are not aware of your brand you may not be able to successfully claim your superiority straight out of the gates. Remember, we are talking about the Theory of Marketing Relativity here. Your audience needs to start to build trust before they will believe all your communication.

This is the crux of Marketing Relativity – BELIEVABILITY and TRUST. You need to understand where your audience members stand in order to craft compelling communication and engagement. If you met someone for the first time and they said, “I hold the record for …,” wouldn’t you be skeptical? Even if it was true? This is what so few get when it comes to marketing. You must build relationships and condition your audience before you make all your superlative claims. Even if they are true.

If we go back to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and the example I posed at the beginning, the person on the train traveling 50 mph does not “feel” that the train passing them on the left is really traveling at 75 mph. They do not “trust” that the train is traveling 75 mph even though it is the truth. Their own perception causes subjectivity.

If you understand your audience’s subjectivity, you will have a much greater appreciation of what they are willing to believe and how much trust they will give to your brand. If you have a strong degree of empathy established, you are much more likely to develop a communication and engagement plan that resonates with your audience. This is the foundation of “The Marketing Theory of Relativity.” You must always be must sensitive to the subjectivity of your audience and whether what you say is believable by them – even if it is the truth. Build trust first. Then you are in a position to make bold statements that your audience believes. If you have earned your audiences’ trust, they will not only believe what you have to say, but they will share it with their friends, family, and colleagues.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Filed under audience development, brand marketing, brands, marketing, Social Steve, SocialSteve

Two Realities No One Wants to Admit about Excellent Marketing


Let me start off the article by asking, “How important is marketing to the success of your product or service? Do you need marketing to create brand awareness? Generate leads? Build loyalty for your offering? Produce advocates for your brand?”

If you have answered yes, let me ask you one other thing. When you look for results, are decent results good enough or do you want stellar results? I know all of these questions seem a bit rhetorical. But I am laying them out for a purpose. The questions point to two realities that no one wants to hear or admit. Excellent marketing takes time and money.

We are in a culture where we want everything today or if not today, then certainly tomorrow. It takes time to build an audience. Look at any major market shareholder – Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and the list goes on. Every one of them had challenges and hurdles to overcome. Their massive success did not happen overnight.

Brands should definitely measure results. But the expectation of results should be realistic. Look for continuous incremental growth. Companies that experience sustainable and long-term success usually start out by seeing incremental success for a decent amount of time. Then something happens where they see a “hockey stick” curve if they are lucky. But is the hockey stick curve growth really luck? Or is it the result of continuous focus on strategy and execution? The latter of course. A hockey stick curve growth and with continuous sustainability takes time.

I believe it is imperative that you work each and every day to understand your audience, your competition, and your brand core competencies. You continue to tweak a strategic formula that takes all these factors into consideration. Your brand journey must be a continuous learning one. It is rare that a brand sees immediate massive growth and maintains their market share in the long term.

So one of the realities of marketing excellence is that it takes time. One marketing campaign will not yield long-term brand success. The other reality is money. It cost money to build awareness, consideration, sales, loyalty, and advocacy.

Now I realize no company has an endless budget. In fact I have made some tough decisions with regards to marketing investments. Just this past week I decided to use a “cheaper” marketing platform than one that really was far more robust. It is like comparing a Mercedes to Hyundai. I would much rather have a Mercedes, but the Hyundai serves my purpose for today.

But I find way too many companies making an economical decision before a rational value decision. I will eventually invest in the “better” platform. Today, based on my audience size the “cheaper platform” (and less valuable) suffices. I have told my executive management that I intend to purchase that more expensive, greater value platform when we reach a certain audience size, revenue plateau, and number of employees. We will spend when we need to.

I find that this issue of company budget is especially true when it comes to the hiring of digital marketers. I have seen a number of companies hire inexperienced digital marketers just because they use digital and social platforms well. The question is whether they know how to use them to develop an audience. Do they have rich marketing experience that allows them to develop marketing strategies and apply them in execution to a digital world? Here, I have seen many companies opting for less experienced, cheaper solutions rather than investing in individuals that will drive strong results for their company. Yes, maybe the personnel and solutions they deploy are less expensive, but the brand rarely experiences results they seek.

I think I have just scratched the surface with regards to the reality of time and money required within marketing to drive superior results. But for now, I just want to touch a subject that few are comfortable discussing. If you are compelled and brave enough, please chime in. Add your perspective.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under brand marketing, brands, marketing, Social Steve, SocialSteve

There is Something More Important than “Disruptive” to Win an Audience

Sometimes in the business world, people overuse particular words. I would put disruptive in that category. It sounds startling, super-advanced, and mind-boggling. In fact, disruptive sounds infinitely better than the three words I just used to describe it. I guess that is why people really love to use it.


There are only two companies that come to mind that succeed with disruptive offerings: Apple and Google. (I am sure you can name a few others.) Yes, disruptive offerings work for a slim few. But there are a number of other successful companies that are not necessarily delivering disruptive innovations but are realizing strong results anyway. Companies like Virgin America, Zappos, and Nordstrom.

What is it about these companies that make them successful with their target audiences? The answer is an outstanding user experience. I would argue that a great user experience trumps all other facets.

If we look at consumer behavior these days, we see a handful of interesting characteristics that drive brand preference.

1) The truth comes out. The reality is that consumers have such a strong and powerful voice. Brands cannot create a fictitious position. If they do so, if they misrepresent what they are about, the public will call foul. And the consumers’ word spreads.

2) People genuinely respond well to brands that show they care. If a brand delivers customer service or engagement that goes beyond expectation, the consumer starts to build an emotional bond to that brand. Repeated brand action of over exceeding expectation leads to strong loyalty.

3) Brand sharing continues to grow. This is true with regards to positive and negative aspects of user experiences. Now, it is more important to activate your audience to share positive experiences about your brand than to do other social marketing activities such as posting. (Yes posting is still important, but there should be greater emphasis on audience activation and communicating about your brand than the brand actually doing the communication.)

When I studied for my Master’s degree in marketing a number of years ago, academic marketing experts placed heavy importance on product/service differentiation to win a target audience. I am not sure that is the number one characteristic to win an audience these days. I would argue that if your product/service has parity with your competition, but you deliver a superior customer/user experience, you would win market share.

People have numerous decisions with regards to the brands they favor. Just look at any shelf in any store. Do a search on the Internet for a brand category. There has never been such an abundance of choices. So much competition. The best way to win an audience over is to genuinely demonstrate that you care about their business. Bend over backwards to make sure they know you are equally concerned about delivering excellence for them as driving revenue and profit.

I have made my argument that a user experience is more important than a disruptive offering. Your turn. Chime in. What are your thoughts and perspective?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under brand marketing, brands, Social Steve, SocialSteve, user experience

Why Companies Should Eliminate Marketing Positions

As a marketing professional, I have found that the marketing departments of companies around the world (and at agencies) are in continuous flux. People join; people move on; people get laid off. In good times the marketing department grows; in poor times it shrinks. Companies’ quarterly and annual revenues most often dictate this. And at the same time marketing is not sales.

So what is it about marketing that makes it so vulnerable within a company’s organization? Today, marketing is way too company self-absorbed. Companies build brand stories without enough consideration about and feedback from their target audience. Marketing needs only one objective – audience development. Audience development is outward focused; not inward.

Social engineering concept

Thus, what used to be called marketing should now be called audience development. This is not just a cute label de jour, but rather a complete representation of focus and purpose. Every “marketing” activity should be directly related to audience development. “Marketing” has become a company inward focused position. Most people in marketing emphasize corporate communication, advertisement, and other activities that attempt to highlight who they are and what they stand for. I propose that these activities be put on the back burner. Yes, it is very important for companies to have a well-defined position and know exactly who they are. But now this is ONLY important to help define how they communicate and engage with their target audience. Audience behavior and response MUST dictate brand communication. Brand position and definitions are the starting point for communication. Know who you are, but modify communication based upon audience behavior.

If we change all marketing positions to audience development positions, we must make sure that we balance both long-term and short-term objectives. Let’s start by using the traditional sales-marketing funnel as an initial guide for audience development objectives. Audience development means that you create brand awareness, consideration, conversion, loyalty, and advocacy. If you actually traverse your audience through these stages, you are driving real meaningful results.

social media marketing funnel

The secret is to build a strategy that includes long-term brand development that is most compelling to your target audience while executing tactics that drive the five stages of the sales-marketing funnel.

I want to drive the point that the difference between marketing and audience development is that the first is inward and the latter is outward. As people have more and more control and influence on brand reputation (due to the prolific social and digital world), brands must transition from their historic “this is who we are” communication “push” marketing to audience empathy, focus, and engagement.

Changing marketing to audience development is not window dressing. It is the first and most important step in changing your brand focus on your audience and to drive real “marketing” results. Maybe if brands make this change, the “marketing department” will not be in such a flux.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under audience development, behavior, brands, change management, marketing, Social Steve, SocialSteve