Doug Garnett’s Blog


Five Reasons Consumers will “Friend” Your Company.

In my last post, I noted six hard truths or axioms I’ve developed about social media. And while these are sobering thoughts, it’s only by facing a medium’s weaknesses that you can truly leverage its power.

So let’s look at another sobering set of thoughts today. If we’re going to look at the people who will be your company’s friend, what motivates them to become your friend?

Reasons People will Friend Your Company

The best starting point is to look at the value they get from connecting with your company. My team finds that there are five primary categories.

– Coupon Clippers. Many consumers “friend” companies to seek discounts and deals. In other words, they are the coupon clippers. Interesting. Coupon clippers are powerful short-term revenue opportunities. But historically they have less brand loyalty and are of lower lifetime value to companies.

– Party Animals. Many consumers friend companies because of clever “entertainment” (typically unrelated to product value). This is especially true for brands who make entertainment the focus of their online experience. Truth is that a significant portion of Party Animals are unlikely to ever use or purchase the product. One great example of Party Animal social work was this year’s Old Spice campaign. Their online campaign generated massive social media interaction and ad business hype. But, it appears to have had no detectable impact on sales.

– Groupies. There are some consumers who become professional “fans” – groupies. And, this happens for every company – not just the “hip” ones. The volume of groupies can be increased with effort. And, they are a lot like rock star groupies — emotionally significant to the company, but they won’t fill an arena and they won’t make your numbers for the year.

– Customer Care. Many consumers connect with companies to seek customer service. One article I read this year pointed out that this is akin to “protecting your investment”. If you own a Toyota and are concerned about this year’s safety problems, you are more likely to “friend” them just to be up-to-date on recall notices.

– Brand Engagers. Some connectors are truly engaged with your brand and will use social media to maintain contact. My axiom is that for broad based social media (e.g. Facebook) this last group is important, but unlikely to be more than 10% or 15% of your total social media connectors.

What does this mean?

I can’t tell you what portion of your social media “friends” will fall into each category. That will depend on many factors including the design of your efforts to attract friends and the fundamentals of your product, brand, and category.

But when you look at that group that gathers around your company, some generalizations are quite reasonable.

1. The hype surrounding social media far outweighs it’s economic value to companies. I think is quite common to find that no more than 5% of your target will even entertain a social media connection. The further fragmentation into five categories makes each segment quite small.

2. As a result, it’s quite easy to spend your money chasing around after your least valuable consumers.

3. If you want your social media relationships to be significant to your company, then you need to avoid the hype and the easy answers in creating social media connections. Instead, take some lessons from the direct marketing world and embrace the social media efforts that build solid & long-term relationships.

In no way do I think you should stay away from social media. But whatever your efforts, enter social media with your eyes open.

Copyright 2010 – Doug Garnett

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