Just because I like you doesn’t mean I care
You’ve posted something to social media.
And after a while you get a notification…
Someone liked what you did or better still commented on it!
You feel good.
You’ve just received a little bit of what psychologists call social validation. (The thoughtful effort of shaping perception with the aim of producing a ratifying response.)
“Our desire to belong is the singular reason that social media exists. We have a deep-seated need for social validation.”
Natalie Nahai, Webs of Influence: The Psychology of Online Persuasion
It’s hard to overstate the role social media plays in our lives today. If you’re not using it daily you’ll surely know people who are. The world has taken to it with relish – sharing content and keeping in touch with friends and colleagues. 28% of all time spent online is now spent on social media. As our use of these platforms has grown so brands have joined the party.
B2C (business to consumer) brands favour Facebook where the five most popular by fan numbers (apart from Facebook) are:
- Red Bull
- Converse All Stars
- Sony Playstation
LinkedIn is the platform of choice for B2B (business to business) brands where the five most influential globally are:
- World Economic Forum
- Inc. Magazine
- Financial Times
It’s not surprising that big corporations dominate. But it’s fair to say that most brands now include some form of social media activity within their marketing mix. Whether it be a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest.
This is great news for these platforms of course, who, with a huge amount of data on their users. Are able to offer highly focused and profitable advertising to those who target them.
It would be wrong to only see these platforms as broadcast channels where audiences passively receive marketing messages. Social networks are active. That’s why organisations have directed marketing resource into content creation or sponsorship. In an attempt to engage people and encourage them to interact and share.
But how can social media platforms deliver real value for your brand? You may be generating likes, follows and fans but to what end? Does this activity have a positive effect your bottom line or are these numbers just vanity metrics tracked to justify your spend?
“Within this mad rush for likes, it’s important to reflect on the fact that having millions of followers does not mean that you have any level of influence. Just because a brand or an individual is good at getting a lot of people to click a button to follow them does not mean that those people who have clicked will do everything (or anything) that you ask of them.”
Mitch Joel, Ctrl Alt Delete
Social networks are cumulatively massive, but in reality they made up of millions of individual connections (The average user on Facebook has about 120). People are there seeking enjoyment, help, personal contact, validation, assurance and popularity.
In order for a brand to get value it first needs to give it. This can be in two ways. Utility or personal service.
Your brand must be truly helpful to audiences to be relevant to them.
Any content you create must be useful or entertaining. Only then will then will people feel comfortable sharing it with their network.
When people communicate directly with you respond in an authentic and friendly way. If a customer makes and enquiry or complaint. Resolve these personably and in a timely fashion. This can and, because it’s in the public domain, communicate to your wider audience that your brand can be trusted.
Building relationships through a social media strategy takes time and requires a long-term view.
“True influence comes from connecting to individuals, nurturing those relationships, adding real value to their lives, and doing anything and everything to serve them, so that when the time comes for you to make a request, there is someone there to lend a hand.”
Mitch Joel, Ctrl Alt Delete
In today’s digital world consumers expect sincere communication, excitement and preferential treatment from brands before committing to them.
If you care about your audience they will care about you. Because, on social media just as in real-life, we all want to feel valued.