Isra takes a hard line on the issue of ‘Likes’, reminding us that ‘Likes’ are a means to an end. He argues that without good content you won’t get the ‘Likes’, and challenges social media managers to take a good long think about what they would like the ‘Likes’ to achieve before they submerge themselves in social media delivery.
Good advice and we believe that this approach is incredibly relevant in an austere business world where social media channels are being opened up as your first step into customer rapport building. In this scenario, we see organisations with high hopes for their social media channels, who have perhaps neglected other channels in the past turning to social as the answer to all their marketing problems.
The poor social media managers often buckle under the pressure of having to achieve a targeted number of 'Likes' and all too often the targets set are unrealistic, based on guess work rather than more authentic measures. Isra is spot on, in that all too often we see that little thought has been given to the question of why ‘Likes’? What shall we do with the ‘Likes’ now?
But in the spirit of balance we also wanted to present an argument where on occasion a brand (and more often than not in a B2C marketing environment) that has built so much fan loyalty offline, that when they open up their social media channels, they are blessed with many ‘Likes’, benefitting from heritage, or fuelled by the pride of the fans and nostalgia of being associated with the product, rather than the quality of social content.
Many people admit to ‘Liking’ a page as a ‘badge of pride’ rather than actively engaging in the content. Their Facebook page acting as a more relaxed LinkedIn CV, more powerful in some respects, as it communicates with their peer group, an environment where personal brand is shaped by the experiences, brands and products they talk about.
Take ‘Top Gear’ as an example. The programme was being aired on our TV screens long before the word ‘digital’ was fashionable. Today in social media, the Facebook page sits just shy of 15million ‘Likes’. The function of the Facebook page is not to encourage people to stay and chat, but to sign post people through to the web content. Tactically, the content plan is based simply on photo shares (of which they get considerable numbers). Post a picture, it gets shared umpteen times, sending more people through to the website to read the content.
The official Twitter account (@BBC_Topgear) has over 1.5million followers and again shows a one news content approach, relying on fans to retweet content to their followers. And then of course there is the man himself @JeremyClarkson, who is outspoken, controversial and is entertaining in his own right with 3.9million followers, we are not convinced he conforms to any content strategy, just his authentic self.
The social media team do not have to deliver a complex content strategy or even work that hard in terms of customer response (as they don’t appear to do any). Their simple formula works for them, based on years of offline non digital rapport building. Providing Jeremy Clarkson with an off air channel to vent his frustrations adds to the brand and provides value for the fans who laugh and retweet his view of the world.
So what are the lessons for social media managers? Understand the history and the past relationships that your organisation has enjoyed with its customers. Don’t try to rip up the rule book and start again when you open up social media channels, build on what you know already about your customers and give them more of what worked in the past.
The example of Top Gear demonstrates that there are occasions when you can keep social media incredibly simple, they are focussed on a simple goal of driving traffic to their website. So decide where your ‘hang out’ area is going to be – is it the website? Is it social media or is it a means to an ends in getting people physically to meet up?
Good luck in developing your content strategy and tweet us @CrowdControlHQ to let us know how you are getting on.
CrowdControlHQ is the UK’s leading social media risk management and compliance platform. We help organisations to successfully deliver content strategy providing an array of crowd engagement tools through our Mr Crowd feature set.
Michelle Leavesley (@)
Lecturer in MSc Marketing Communications at Birmingham Business School