September 19, 2011

Stop the Fan Frenzy! Many clients are obsessed with attracting more and more Facebook fans. And even clients with modest goals still want to clobber their competitors by amassing more fans. Yet in terms of relationship building and even in terms of reach and frequency the fan frenzy is a total fake out. Some “brands” naturally attract large followings. Facebook itself has 52 million. Musical artists like Eminem and Rhianna are at the 45 million plateau with Gaga hot on their heeds with 43 million and Bieber not too far behind with 35 million. Even dead Michael Jackson has 40 million Facebook fans! Coke, arguably the best-known consumer brand on the planet, leads all brands with 34 million. But does it make any sense for brands to spent time and treasure chasing these leaders? The short answer is … no! Here’s why: Fans aren’t a measurement of anything but a random click. Most people hit the “like” button in a moment of enthusiasm but never return. A majority found your page because you were giving something away for free. Most people sign up looking for deals and offers. Most nevernotice the tabs you’ve built out. You don’t know who they are. Fans are mostly anonymous. Within the fan base are brand loyalists and advocates, customers, prospects, passing coupon whores, people with questions, random visitors, occasional buyers, haters, employees, stock holders, journalists and 7-year old kids. Even if you are deploying the early stage social CRM tools, its hard to figure out who your fans are, what they want or how best to engage them. For most of us it’s an iterative game of trial-and-error. Most fans don’t interact with the page or the brand. On average 30% or less are actively engaged – entering the page, commenting, liking content, posting or responding – each month. What looks like a million fans are really 300,000 actives. Not all fans see your brand’s posts. Facebook filters what fans see using the EdgeRank algorithm. On average 9% or less of a brand’s fan base sees whatever you are posting. Now you’ve gone from a million to 300,000 to 27,000; a really steep fall off. Fans are not a proxy for either impressions (reach) or frequency (post viewings) because both are significantly degraded by the operating mechanism built-into the Facebook platform. It's more important to get your message through to fewer people than to have a big number that never hears from you. So what’s a marketer do to? Love the fans you’ve got. Focus on crafting and benchmarking messages that provoke interaction Measure engagement rather than gross fan numbers Shape and feed an on-going conversation on customer terms Resist the impulse to randomly give more stuff away.
4 Ways to Confront Social Media Zombies How many zombies are among your Facebook fans or Twitter followers? New research conducted by DDB indicates that fans and followers “unlike” brands who are too blabby or too irrelevant. Yet the numbers of disaffected fans who take the time to unlike your brands are in the minority. For every “unliker,” there are five former fans who have bailed out but not bothered to click the unlike button. If social media users act like e-mail users (and there’s a 90+ percent overlap) you can assume that 12-15 percent of your base is the unidentified dead. Add to that the fact that an overwhelming majority of fans and followers visit your page once, sign-up and never return and you have to seriously recalibrate your expectations about engagement, as measured by content likes, comments, re-postings or opt-ins to games and promotions. Too many posts, too often clogging up newsfeeds with too much information that is irrelevant or uninteresting drive fans and followers away. Here’s a 4-step formula to prevent creating more social media zombies: Develop a Cadence. Social media is not carpet-bombing. Less is more in crafting a message cadence. It’s a conversation. Stifle the impulse either to use it as a cheap advertising channel and/or to dominate the conversation. For most brands, a post every other day is sufficient. Build your posting strategy around the things your fans care about rather than a product introduction or promotion cycle. Consider the retail calendar and factor in customers expectations and ad clutter at predictable times. Service Desire. Followers align with brands they care about and want deals from. Give them what they want. Don’t give in to corporate desires to turn a 2-way channel into a one-way megaphone. Fans want early inside information, a way to express their allegiance to a brand and the best deal you can offer. Build your content strategy around these clearly articulated customer wants. Start Segmenting. Use emerging social CRM tools to identify individuals and segments and begin crafting one-to-many rather than one-size-fits-all messages. Look at geographies, demographics and activity levels as the first cut. Experiment with direct messaging. Call out active users and measure the response. Prompt Interactions. The best way to separate the living from the dead is to stimulate interaction, conversation or action. An open-ended question, polls, wry observations, simple language, photographs and comments about common experiences (e.g. Emmys, Superbowl, etc.) generally provoke the most likes, comments and reposts. Measure what percentage of your fan base interacts with your postings. Remember that only 30 percent of your total fan base will be active in any given 30-day period. Test the timing, language and content to measure the pulse of your fans. Try to continuously increase the number, percentage and quality of interactions.

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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