We’ve all been there. Your team creates some terrific content for your brand’s social media channels, sure to engage and delight your audience, and the client stops you cold with one question, “How is this going to get me more fans?”
It’s all part of a growing trend and debate – the “social media popularity contest” – that a brand’s success is marked by how many friends, fans, likes, or followers it’s acquired. There’s a couple of reasons why the assumption that success = likes is both flat-out wrong and why it’s missing the point altogether.
There’s a great dissection of this unhealthy obsession with fan count on MediaPost, which ultimately boils it down to one point, “Simply being liked is not really the point of branding.” The article names a number of true A-List brands whose success has hinged on not worrying about pleasing everybody, but rather speaking to a specific target without worrying what other people will think about them. (Think of that cool kid in high school who wasn’t worried about what everybody thought of him, and thus became enormously popular.) Harley Davidson, Apple, and Red Bull have 1 thing in common, besides enormous success in their categories: they know who they are and who they’re talking to, and they’re not worried about pleasing everybody.
While every brand might not have as strong of a persona as say, The Old Spice Guy, one question that they should be asking themselves is, “why do I want to have more likes?” There’s a lot of great answers to this question: To inspire curiosity and trial in my product, to find and reward my evangelists, to educate and persuade my audience… and there’s one wrong answer. “So I can have more fans than brand Y.”
Bottom line? Challenge your clients to take the question “how can I get more likes?” one step further to “Who should be liking my brand and why?”