The truth is that any company can spend their way to 5k fans or followers through a PPA advertising campaign. Without discounting this method, it’s worth noting that its results are limited if they aren’t working in conjunction with communication and marketing strategies based on your company goals. Holistic approaches that build communities are the way to go.
In this particular case, the company had previously hired someone who brokered social media services that did not give them significant results, so the first mistake was not hiring a company that directly did the work and had a track record for producing great results. Always research the companies you hire and explore their personal and professional social graphs if you’re buying social marketing services.
Hitting a number means nothing if that’s your only goal. Once you have the followers, the most important questions is ‘How are you going to convert them into happy customers and develop relationships that make them high lifetime value customers or raving fans that spread great word of mouth promotion for your business?’
This company’s bigger problem was that they didn’t know how to communicate with the fans they already had. Hitting a magic bullet of 5k Facebook fans and/or Twitter followers will not necessarily spike their sales.
The reality is that hard smart work and relationship building is the only magic bullet that exists. You have to test and measure an educated communication strategy based on experience to effectively interact with your community. If you’re not building relationships with your followers then you’re wasting your time and money, and it could tarnish your reputation rather than boost it.
In this case, they were close to 2,000 Facebook fans and had over 1,000 Twitter followers. The Facebook page had been touting the virtues of the main product and they were giving away a very healthy contest prize. Everyone who Liked the Facebook page was entered into a drawing to win a trip to NYC with some other benefits. …and still they couldn’t move the needle on their follower counts.
To highlight some mistakes you want to watch out for, let’s look at their basic social graph in a nutshell:
1) The website home page did not even mention the contest. In fact, their social link widgets were buried at the bottom left hand corner of the home page, way below the fold, so you had to scroll through the full page to even know they were there. Fail.
2) The Facebook page did not come up in a search of the company name on Facebook unless I hit ‘get more results’. After clicking the company fan page name I was delivered to the ‘info’ page – not the Welcome page (which did not invite me to “Like” the page.) Once I clicked on the Wall page I saw desperate posts asking for visitors to Like the page, with no valuable content besides the contest bribe mentioned above. Why should I care? You’re treating me like a number rather than respectfully giving me content that makes me feel special and aligned with your product. Now I like you less than before I arrived on your Facebook fan page. Fail again.
3) The Twitter stream is one long broadcast of why the product is awesome. Rule number one – your customers should tell me you’re awesome, not you. You can have the greatest product ever, but if you say so it’s hype and if a customer says so it’s fact. They had no conversations with anyone on Twitter; not even a Retweet or a Reply to acknowledge that they are trying to connect with a community of living, breathing humans rather than lifeless wallets with valuable money they want. Fail for the third time – you’re out. …for now.
The good news is that since the internet is based on real time activities, you an clean up situations like these in a matter of days or weeks of consistently doing the right things.
Getting visitors to do more than Like your Facebook fan page and never come back isn’t rocket surgery (as I read on a bumper sticker.) If your company wants more fans and followers then make sure you’re giving good love to the ones you already have. You will find that when your followers genuinely feel understood and appreciated they’ll tell their friends you’re awesome because you’re being awesome and because you’re product is awesome (if it is); which is much better, easier and fun than wasting time and money trying to convince people you’re awesome. Numbers are a play in the game, but they’re not the game.
So if you know anyone in this situation, suggest they do their due diligence on who they’re hiring, even if they feel like this world is foreign to them. Their gut will send them in the right direction and save them the pain this company experienced, and they’ll enjoy a faster road to social marketing success.