It’s getting awfully noisy out there. Deafening is a better word for the Social Media (SM) world and all the “just in time” SM experts, gurus, consultants, strategists, and agencies are woofing or tweeting like crazy. Facebook opened up this social mosh pit, and Twitter has lit a flame to it. As I talk to more companies about their SM strategy, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that very few of them really grasp the opportunity that’s sitting right in front of them.
They see Facebook and Twitter and instantly gravitate to the obvious, visual metric on the page. For Facebook, it’s fans. For Twitter, it’s followers. SM “experts” are creating fan pages for their clients and managing their Twitter accounts and banging away on them in attempt to increase these silly metrics.
Who cares? And, what does it mean? It could be that all it means is you found 3,425 other people who wanted to be followed. I bet at least 10% of them are SM experts. I’m sure there are very clever strategies to get more followers or fans, but they are either very time-intensive or use an automated service. Either way, is this so-called achievement doing something good for your company or brand? Will it help you sell more product? Does it improve your brand equity or sentiment (so btw you can sell more product)? Does it help you deliver real value to your customers? Social media has the potential to do incredibly important things like improving your product strategy or giving you insights into servicing your customers. So, more followers/fans mostly matters if you listen to what they tell you.
In my opinion, the number of fans or followers should really only be an unintentional outcome of your bigger social media efforts. The big opportunity sitting right in front of most brands is to build a meaningful community or experience inside their own site. A place where their customers come, share thoughts and opinions, talk to other customers, gain valuable information, have fun, and want to return again and again. It’s the online equivalent of the comfortable chairs at Starbucks. Communities have meaning, facilitate deeper conversations, and ultimately becomes a priceless asset to your company. The obvious reason is that customers who spend more time on your site and visit your site more frequently, purchase more product. But, the other reason may be even more important. If you’re listening, your customers tell you how to improve your marketing, your product, your policies, just about everything. All in the intimacy of your own website, not in that noisy, cluttered world outside your site.