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How deep is your “like”?

by Gus Razzetti on July 1, 2010

An interesting phenomenon is taking place everyday. Twitter fellows celebrate when reaching 1,000 followers. Marketers proudly expose their ever-growing followers list as if that was the only purpose of their social media efforts. Key performance indicators are reasons to show off, as brands and individuals are equally engaged in this battle for who shows the “highest score”.

In this race, they care more about how many (the width) than of understanding the real depth of those relationships. And we all know that depth drives a relationship and is what really generates buzz and consumer advocacy.

Take 3 top social media networks. On one end, Twitter allows anyone to follow you without any permission (of course you can stop unwanted followers any time you want).
Facebook adds another layer by requiring that you ask for permission first, though most people tend to accept most of the friend requests without filtering who should really be part of their circle of trust.
On the other end, in LinkedIn, you not only have to ask for permission but also need to have something in common (work relationship, group, etc). Contacts are business related and you tend to be more cautious about openly sharing them.

See what I’m saying? As marketers and individuals, we need to take some distance from this score race and focus on the depth of our online relationships:
- Instead of counting how many friends you have; understand who are the friends that really count.
- Stop showing off because of your extensive follower list; start asking yourself why they follow you.
- Go back to your contacts and see who is really a business connection.

At the end of the day, in business as in life, you’d better know who your real friends are.

Let’s end with a successful example based on a common sense approach: people tend to “accumulate” lots of friends on Facebook that really represent little value to them.

BK asked its consumers to sacrifice their friends in order to get a free Whopper. And many people agreed that the prize was worth more than the (so called) 10 friends they needed to sacrifice. Facebook put an end to the campaign based on logistic issues. My guess is that it was so successful Facebook got frightened because people were eliminating friends at a faster pace than they were adding them. And for a company, whose strategy depends on “selling friends by the pound”, rather on the depth of relationships. That’s a lot to sacrifice.

Enjoy the Whopper sacrifice!

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Patricia Blanco July 1, 2010 at 6:48 pm

I think there is a lot to be said about this social networks boom. If you are willing to exchange ten of your friends for a Whopper, you better make sure who these friends are. And I like how you link that to “business life”. It’s too easy for anybody to “like” something on Facebook that it ends up saying nothing about the preferences of a consumer. I think is part of the “be part of something” human need more than an actual appreciation for a brand/product or service. My guess is than few years from now something a lot cooler than Facebook will show up, even before all the research could confirm the real power of this networks. Good article! I like it!

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Jimmy Hernandez July 2, 2010 at 9:28 am

Very true…If we are not careful this will soon end up in audience wars between TV networks and social media networks! Quantity and achieving critical mass are important, but in a world where individuals lead the conversation and relationship, quality and deeper understanding become key.
BK is also a great example of understanding the audience and environment, and not just social media as a tool.

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Gus Razzetti July 2, 2010 at 11:21 am

Patricia, great contribution! Agree, that people “like” something doesn’t mean that they are really expressing their true preference. Many times they are only following the crowd.

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Liliana Cerilo July 2, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Gustavo, I truly enjoyed this post. What is interesting is how we as marketers should start defining and understanding the meaning behind “like” because it is okay for our brands to be popular but that doesn’t mean that all of their fans are loyal followers, like you mentioned. It would be great if we could have a tool that identifies the quality of “fanship” so we could have strategies against each of those levels of “likeness”. Thanks for posting an article that while it may seem obvious, it truly raises concern for all the brands that continue to immerse themselves in the digital space and only care about raising the number of followers.

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Gus Razzetti July 5, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Jimmy, absolutely right. Social media and other online media outlets used to focus on the quality of the relationship with their audience. Now that they’ve gained critical mass they tend to forget their point of difference and are shifting their conversation to a more quantitative one. If they don’t get back in track we might end seeing an audience war between TV networks and online media networks.

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Gus Razzetti July 5, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Liliana, thanks for your feedback. “Likeness” is only a expression of popularity. And as a marketer, do you simply want to settle with winning the popularity contest? I think that’s not enough. And to your point, we (agencies and clients) should devote our energy into developing a tool that helps understand and track the quality of “fanship”.

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