Guest post by @LeilaG
I was thinking today about all the brand meetings I’ve sat in on (yep, welcome to my interesting life) and how earnest everyone seems. Essentially many of us are marketing FMCG products; no-one’s curing cancer here. But secondly, in our field we’re ‘creatives’, yet the best some of us come up with in terms of seeking brand engagement is wanting a hundred thousand Likes for our brand’s Facebook page. Now I know this is all very corporate and to extract a numerical value from a brief of ‘brand engagement’ requires so much cross-analysis we wonder what we’re looking for in the first place, but essentially we’re creating a statistician’s crystal vortex over a Like button.
Remember when you were in school, and you’d do dumb things like collect Christmas cards to casually assert your social status amongst your friends “…yeah, I’ve got like FIFTY. Whatever…” Well the basic human impulse of doing the equivalent on Facebook is what we’ve built a billion-dollar industry on so a) yes, it’s kind of a big deal in monetary form but b) let’s not lose ourselves here; it’s a Like button.
Let’s not get this twisted: the point of Likes is slightly more sophisticated than this: the more you get, the more people see your wall posts. The question is…if these people are only here because they were forced to Like your page in a desperate bid to win an iPad, you’ve essentially coerced them into Liking you by dangling a carrot, which has absolutely nothing to do with a genuine affection towards your brand.
People will carry resentment along with them from feeling forced to be your bitch which gets evoked every time your brand pops into their stream of consciousness. Knowing that they‘ve whored out their news feed to you in the hope that you might toss them a nice little prize – but probably didn’t – understandably leaves the user feeling cheap.
If you’re still reading, here’s a thought: wouldn’t it be better if you had a thousand Likes from people who were Liking, sharing and commenting on your wall posts, than a hundred thousand from people who once wanted an iPad but now hate your guts? Focus on making Facebook a nicer experience for your fans and you’ll squeeze more out of them. I don’t know about you, but I’m a narcissistic wannabe hipster who will Like a brand if I think it’s going to make me look cool to anyone creepy enough to look at my Timeline. Don’t pretend you don’t do this too. BUT…we also Like brands because we hope that you’re going to relieve us of the hell that is our miserable working day with some interesting content. If the user doesn’t feel that you deserve to be represented by them (Facebook now displays a brand’s wall posts on friends of its fans’ newsfeeds too with the fan’s name right above it), they’ll swiftly put a stop to their fandom and what do you get? A drop-off in your fan count after every campaign OR the brand manager screaming at you because you’ve failed to engage any kind of significant proportion of your million fans. Quite possibly both.
Competitions on Facebook are great for numbers. You get the big spike in activity, the fans and the impressive stats to show your boss. But it’s a quick-win method that doesn’t really garner meaningful and organic brand engagement. They’re useful for raising the number of people that are exposed to the brand, but the brand needs to realise that the competition is just the springboard; the true challenge for the brand lies in putting its new-found popularity to good use. In a nutshell, the quality of your fans should override the fact that you’ve gone out and trawlered them like tuna.
About the author: Leila Guddoy
Leila Guddoy joined Gamaroff Digital this year as a mix between project manager, writer and strategic contributor.
Leila started out in technology PR and then went on to implement a new website and social media strategy from scratch at a social care recruitment agency before joining Gamaroff. Leila writes her own blog: http://leila.gamaroff.co.uk. Follow @LeilaG