|Image credit: Funny Eye For The Corporate Guy|
There are two phrases in social media that are beginning to annoy the living crap out of me.
“We have 5 million fans on our Facebook Page.”
And, “We got #ComeTakeAFreeIPad trending number one in India!”
They piss me off. Because they make me feel like social media agencies aren’t delivering real returns to their clients. And I don’t want to be counted among those who don’t deliver real returns to clients.
Let’s start with the “5 million fans” argument.
For the last couple of years, I’ve run some of India’s largest Facebook Pages. Across categories like beverages, fashion, beauty, technology, entertainment and more.
Each of those pages had fan-bases ranging from 100,000 to 5 million. Large communities built up over time through a mix of good content, fan acquisition campaigns and contests.
The assumption is, or should be, that this community the brand and agency have so painstakingly created, is extremely relevant and highly engaged.
If that is truly the case, why do the same set of (a few hundred or a few thousand) people keep engaging with the Page’s content time after time?
Why is it that one out of three comments on the Page is spam?
And why is it that the numbers increase only when there’s a freebie to be won?
Go check every large Page you can think of. Scroll through the posts. Do the math.
And then consider that only a small percentage of the people engaging with you will actually click through to your site or walk in to your store.
Is that good ROI?
5 million fans is not your goal. Driving online and offline sales – through direct product push or brand imagery – is. And Facebook is good at it.
Let’s debunk the trending topic thingy next.
As recently as 18 months ago, we used to create interesting conversations around an entertainment channel’s TV shows, and get them trending. Worldwide, even. It was even harder considering that we had to not only pick the right hashtag, but pick one that’d get people tweeting even without a giveaway.
Today, that approach is dead. I’ve seen as many as seven branded hashtags running simultaneously on my Trending Topics pane, jumping up and down the list, fighting for popularity.
What did they have in common? They were all contest hashtags. “Tweet with #ILoveBrandBecause and win an iPad/smartphone.”
Meanwhile, a brand trying to have a genuine conversation gets confined to trending on TrendsMap.
It’s no surprise that the contest brands have a huge following among people who use the words “Contest Lover”, “Contest Junkie” or “Contest Freak” in their bios. A quick scan through some of these users’ tweets reveals that all their tweets are contest-oriented.
If you’re a social media manager, you’ll know the way they work. One person will notice the contest and tag in several of their friends. Before you know it, your hashtag will be trending as several people tweet rampantly to win the prize.
Now, let’s walk back to that slide you presented the client during the pitch. You know, the one where you told them that Twitter is an influencer medium, and that you’d use it to build positive word-of-mouth, brand advocacy, brand imagery and loyalty through influence.
Now look back at the morons tweeting out your contest hashtag and tell me, hand over heart, that you’re delivering on your promise to the client.
Basically, social media agencies are getting into pissing contests and tom-tomming the size of the splotches as real ROI for their clients.
And ill-informed clients are biting into it hook, line and sinker!
And you’re all giving digital marketing a bad name.
This is the age of doing, not talking. This is the age where brands stop spewing empty words and start acting on them instead. Just look at all the Cannes winners, for instance.
Here’s what I would recommend.
Don’t waste your money buying every fan you can on Facebook. Target your stamp ads tightly. And pay more attention to your content. Run more promoted posts. That way, your content will bring in the right audience. Digital in India is about quality, not quantity.
It’s the same with Twitter. Focus on getting the right audience to your Page. Follow and engage with the right people. Interact with them offline. Be human. Show them you value them. They’ll spread your message exponentially, with more meaning and value than the contest whores.
And, when it comes to getting on the trending topics, I have a suggestion that might make sense to you.
Don’t talk. Do.
Do something small. Something big. Something funny. Something senti. Something low-key. Something magnificent. Something that’ll get people talking about you because of the nature of that something. Rather than for a fucking iPad.
If Twitter’s the world’s newsroom, then make the fucking news!
We did something like this last month for one of our clients. A small, senti activity. It wasn’t huge. But it earned us tremendous love and goodwill and a whole bunch of influential followers.
Trending is not your goal. Influence is.
Yes, it’s slower growth. Yes, your community is smaller than your competitor’s. But it’ll cost you less. It’ll drive better results. Each post will pull some weight. And you won’t keep wondering who your top fans are and what ROI you’re getting from your effort.
Don’t take the easy way out. Work for it.
It’ll keep you from looking like a fool when your clients wise up.