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Ever since we discovered that social media was a viable tool to achieve real results in business, many companies have started seeking data to discover more about the reasons behind why people choose to follow and interact with brands on platforms originally created exclusively for individuals.
As we transitioned from traditional marketing to social, it’s tempting to ask questions about what we should do to get more fans, stay relevant, and exceed our success metrics.
After reviewing a recent study from ExactTarget, I realized we might be asking the wrong question. In a medium where customers are reluctant to allow brands to enter their bubbles, perhaps we should ask “What should we NOT do?”. It turns out that there are several reasons that people will not connects with brands online, all of which are becoming more important with every day that passes and the news feeds become more cluttered with information. Here are three reasons we can’t afford to ignore:
1. They don’t want to be bombarded with messages or ads.
“Bombarded” suggest that there is a ceiling to the amount of people and companies that your customers want to have included in their news feed. They just want the important stuff, the stuff that matters. This means they may not ‘like’ a page even if they are a regular customer of the business.
Making the choice to avoid direct promotion is a difficult one and may even be counter-intuitive for traditional marketers and salespeople. It is, however, absolutely crucial in gaining and maintaining a loyal fan base. When someone “likes” your Facebook page, think of it as the equivalent to subscribing to a magazine they love. They subscribe because the content is entertaining, informative, or beneficial in some other way. Would you subscribe to a television advertisement? How about a billboard or yellow pages ad? Of course you wouldn’t. Use Facebook advertising to advertise. Use Facebook pages to add value for your customers.
2. They don’t want companies to have access to profile information.
This one is a bit odd because “liking” a Facebook page does little to compromise personal information to the actual business. Yes, there are privacy concerns with Facebook as a platform itself, but business pages are not able to dig into profile information if the user has selected the correct privacy settings.
All of this aside, I can’t help but ask what is underneath the surface of this act of not wanting to give out information. I think it hints towards something much bigger: a lack of trust.
Trust is the single greatest factor in determining purchase behavior, creating a huge need for marketers to build trust with fans and customers. This is of course determined largely by the DNA and core values of your business, but there are certain behaviors that need to be adopted in social media to build trust – like being as responsive as possible. Simply responding to the vast majority of fans, whether the mention is positive or negative, is actually a way to build trust and also differentiate from competitors. Recent research has showed that more than 70% of companies completely ignore the customer service element of Twitter. This creates a nice advantage for companies whose streams are full of @replies, retweets, and mentions of their followers.
The bottom line here is, it’s irrelevant if we say we’re trustworthy. If we demonstrate that we’re trustworthy, however, it could mean a huge difference for our businesses. Actions speak louder than words. What level of trust do you think Starbucks and Comcast have with their customers?
3. They “don’t see the benefit of it”.
This might sound broad, but there is an important lesson for every brand in this one: make the value of your page as obvious as possible. This means you need to tell them WHY they should like your page, which forces you to be pro-active in putting them first. Why would they want to subscribe? Community? Information? Exclusive content or discounts? Whatever you’re doing for them, make it obvious. Simply adding “Like us on Facebook” in all of your communication mediums won’t get it done. “Like us on Facebook because you’ll be left out of something phenomenal” sounds a lot better.
So what can we take away here? Do a self-audit of your social media presence. Replace your sales copy with exclusive content and discounts. Get rid of your broadcasted message and ask your audience for their thoughts. Make them proud to display your logo on their profile as a business they support. Above all else, before you take action online, ask yourself “What’s in it for THEM?”.