I recently took a stab at talking about how the power of online fandom – any fandom, not just the Facebook kind – can change the foundation of the customer/seller relationship to everyone’s advantage. But there’s one point that I think keeps getting ignored by industry, and also by Social Networking platforms themselves (who should know better!). Why oh why is Facebook still being spoken about as if it’s an advertising platform?
The other day I had a conversation with a very nice guy from a large social network who was was profiling the social network activities of one of my companies for a success stories report. He wanted to know how we decide to run a campeign, if we use an ad agency to coordinate it with our other properties, our objectives, targeting, and analytics, and what kind of custom quizzes, games, videos, and other bells and whistles we integrate to catch peoples attention.
The answer is that we don’t use any custom quizzes, games or ad agencies, and the only analytic I care about is the Engagement score. We have one custom page: a list of our products. To continue judging Social network success by these old-school marketing phrases is to throw away the number one advantage of a social space: Authenticity.
The secret to our success on this Social network is that we reply to every post. We answer every question. We ask our users what colors to use for our new design, and we go back to the drawing board if they don’t like it. We tell them what we had for lunch. We sympathise that they had a bad day. We wish them happy birthday, and we do it morning, noon, nights, and weekends because that’s when they’re on. And in return they give us something that’s so much more valuable than their wallets, they give us thier goodwill.
What it comes down to is this. If you treat Social Network users as customers, they’ll treat you like a corporation. Treat them as people and they’ll treat you like someone worth paying attention to. To narrow it down: Facebook is not just a bigger megaphone. Its sad to see so many companies turning thier pages in to themeparks when they should be turning them into summercamp. Come on people, try a little authenticity. It will go a long way towards not looking quite so desperate.