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You Hated Me In High School, Why Are You “Friending” Me?

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There’s a reason we haven’t spoken since our days together in high school…we didn’t like each other.  Really, you got married?  So did everyone else!  I’m still not interested and I don’t care if your children take karate, if “on this day, God want you to know…”, or if you are making homemade ravioli tonight.  By the way, no one ever believes people who describe their dinner in such detail.

I’m sure your actual friends are interested; they probably even know your kids, and your ex-husband.  Even your co-workers are interested; after all you do spend nearly half of your life with them.

What is it with these people who strive for 500+ friends on Facebook or contacts in LinkedIn?  We’re not talking about beanie babies or Pokemon cards, to be collected and traded.  These are people that you claim to be friends with, or professionally connected to.

Please don’t collect me, I’m not a commodity, and my value with you won’t appreciate.  Maybe I started down this path when I first joined Facebook, when I thought you had to accept every friend request or that person would see that you ignored them.  But then I began to see posts about people I didn’t know, and I realized at some point I must have friended them and now the mention of their name doesn’t even ring a bell.  When and how did I know these people, or did I ever know them?

Over time I realized that Facebook, for me, should be used as a convenient way to chat with friends that I might not otherwise have time for, to post pictures for relatives living in Spain and Hawaii, and yes, I can connect with friends from high school.  Although I still won’t care about their extravagant homemade dinners.

It’s an engaging tool, not a collector series. I won’t ever find a need to post to the page of a stranger, or to comment on someone’s daily horoscope.  Isn’t this the same behavior we see with consumers and brands?  “Like us to see today’s deal”, and 3 months later we’re left wondering why on earth we’re seeing a post about the newest store opening in a town we’ll never visit.   That’s right, I could only see that day’s super deal if I became a fan, and it would have needed to be an amazing deal given the fact that I rarely use the brand.

Months later we’re one of thousands of fans not engaging, we’re just a number.  We’re giving the brand a chance to say, “We have 5 billion fans! “, but what they’re not telling us is that it hasn’t helped them in any way.  They haven’t seen a spike in sales, fans aren’t commenting on their posts and their newest product launch was a complete flop.

The fans aren’t engaged because the brand went after quantity not quality.  Nowhere has this over-used phrase been more applicable then with a brand’s Facebook fans.  Fans generate buzz when they care, and if they belong to the brand’s community, and want to spread the word as brand ambassadors.  They don’t necessarily care about the number of fans; they do care about sharing a positive experience with friends.   Maybe they want to be the first to tell you about a new cool product they just discovered, or they’re passing along a coupon for a product you both swear by.

This occurs if a brand uses smart and engaging material to bring their fans even closer to the brand.  Tell a fan a store is opening 6,000 miles away and you might not get much traction.  Tell a fan about the chance to win free product just for posting their favorite flavor or color, they’ll take the time to share their opinion with you.  As a brand, you just engaged your fan and hosted a mini focus group.  The right message builds the right relationship and weeds out the fans that “liked” you for all the wrong reasons.  You don’t need a number; you need brand awareness and brand loyalty.

The next time you receive a request from someone looking to pump up their numbers, ask yourself, “Do I want to keep in touch with this brand, or person? Is it worth my time?” Or,…”Do I care what they’re making for dinner?”

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