Time and time again after I have spoken with people in charge of their company's Facebook page or Twitter profile, I run across the same thing. People are obsessed with the numbers on their pages. Number of fans, number of times they post, number of photos they have sent out, etc.
In a world driven by metrics, this is completely normal. However, when you're chasing the wrong numbers, you're bound to get no results.
In traditional marketing, it's all about how many people you've reached. You want to be able to get on the #1 radio station because it was the station that has the biggest audience. Television marketing revolves around ratings. The better the rating, the higher the price they can charge for that commercial you want aired. But with social media, the game has changed. However, the mentality of "bigger is better" has seemed to stay the same.
Let me make one thing clear: with traditional advertising, you're gambling. Gambling on the fact that the number of people your advertising executive is telling you is going to be watching television, actually will be watching television. You're taking an even bigger risk saying that every single one of those people he or she has shown you with impressive numbers and graphs during the proposal will be there at the moment your commercial airs. You're taking even a larger risk saying that every single person that is looking at your commercial will be interested in your product. See how it's being dwindled down to smaller and smaller actual numbers for potential return on investment?
With social media, people voluntarily "like" or "follow" your product because they are interested in it. You're guaranteed an interested audience base on social media because these are people who have actively sought you out and connected with you. With traditional media, your advertising just happens to be in their way of normal programming. If you remember nothing else, remember that.
Now, onto the next problem. Businesses who have a larger social media following are viewed as the top dogs, and those who have smaller followings are viewed as those who still haven't "gotten it." I'm here to throw that theory out the window.
I don't care if you have 200 fans or 200,000 fans. If you have a good amount of people interacting on your page or profile, you're doing it right.
I've seen Facebook business pages with close to 250,000 fans, and not one person responding when a status is written. Is this not like dumping your money and time into the great abyss just like you have been with radio and television? That method is broken, people. And now you're taking that method to a new outlet. What are you doing? It's up to you to fix it.
You need to have a group of engaged people on your social networks in order to have your social media marketing stick. Otherwise, you're running a radio advertisement or cooking up a commercial, basically. If you want to succeed in social media marketing, you need to come to the realization that this is not a venue where you can take old ideas and make them work. This is new, fresh and different. This is now. And if you can have a conversation, you can succeed. Plus, don't you owe it to your fans and followers who have found you on these networks, have taken the time to connect, and are now waiting for you to provide some value?
The whole hype behind social media is that we are no longer lecturing our customers. No more billboards, no more 30-second quips that we hope will stick. Our customers are ours to interact with any time we want, about anything we want. We give them a chance to interact with us in real-time, a chance to tell us what they're thinking of our product, our culture, our company as a whole.
Do you realize how much time this shift in communication is saving us? Do you also realize how terrified survey companies are now? Why pay for those monster surveys to go out to consumers, when we can run a survey on our Facebook page for close to nothing, right?
The major metrics you need to be watching on your Facebook and Twitter pages are not how many people are following you. It's the percentage of people interacting with you out of your followers. In the case of companies that are coming into Twitter stardom overnight with hundreds of thousands of followers in a week, are more than likely cases of companies who have purchased followers. A majority of "purchased" followers are spam bots. Think spam bots are going to buy your product or read your blog? Think they're going to leave thoughtful feedback? Probably not.
Take time to see who is following you on your networks, and more importantly, who is talking to you. Just like traditional marketing, you need to know your audience. That part of marketing, regardless of the outlet, will never change.
From there, create content that caters to them. This is not just what I call "barking" content. Barking content is something that you just shout at someone, hope they get it, and then just walk away. It's a commercial on television. It's the billboard you just zoomed by. Barking content is bad, unless you're writing a script for someone's new Glade commercial. Barking content is a no-no.
You need to have conversational content. You know how to have a conversation right? It usually begins with introductions, and maybe a few questions. Being conversational means you want to know just as much about the person you are talking to you as you want to share about yourself....hopefully.
This is how you need to approach your social media marketing. Sure, you may want to run an awesome deal on your hamburgers this week to get people in the door. You'll need to put it on your Facebook page. But instead of going the traditional route of the "25% off hamburgers, come in now!" posting, why don't you upload a picture of that delicious piece of meat, with a caption that says, "First 10 people to tell us exactly what comes on our hamburger deluxe in the comments below, gets it for free during their next visit!"
You're guaranteed to save more money than giving everyone who walks in the door 25% off, and more importantly you've made your posting interactive. People will be scrambling to tell you about your product. So now, not only do you have people chatting about your product and creating awareness about it, you also have people coming into your restaurant for a free burger when all is said and done. Better yet, maybe they'll bring a friend and that friend will order and pay for a meal. That's a sale you might not have had before the social media posting.
Screw the traditional metrics of how big is your audience. The only metrics you need to worry about are how many people are talking back, leaving comments, liking your postings or sharing your content. Focus on growing that metric, because that's the only major metric that matters. For Twitter, take into account how many people are re-tweeting your content or interacting with you by replying to your messages.
It's quality over quantity, people. You may have 400,000 Facebook fans, but if only five of them are responding to your content, then Joe's Diner down the street with 390 fans and 65 people responding to his postings is beating you out tremendously.
Stop trying to be the big dog. Start being a friend. Start being social.