How To Get Your Followers To Become True Brand Champions


Photo: Paul Iddon

If 2010 was the year of the “Like,” 2011 will be the year of the “act.”Too much emphasis has been placed on having more Followers, more “Likes” and more people to hopefully listen to your postings and drive your influence.

But are you really driving influence? In what follows I’ll give you pointed tips on questions to ask in order to create true value in your social media efforts in 2011…Or you can choose to be the cute girl in school that everyone considers most popular. I have known some of the latter, and they all turned out ugly.

Let’s start by asking a smarter question: Are the “Likes” of those around you meaningful to your goals?

If your goal is to simply gain more Followers, you will fail. It’s that simple. You’ll become the ugly one. However, if your underlying goal is to mobilize those people that “Like” you to act, and you… WAIT FOR IT…

A) Truly build a strategy for action, and

B) Measure it to keep accountability in check

…then you are off to a great start in 2011.

Over the past three years, brands and individuals alike became consumed with Followers – like nomads in the desert searching for water, only to find a mirage. From a long-term perspective, I 100% guarantee you that it’s less fulfilling to take this crack-addiction approach to social media – it will never be satisfying.

Whatever happened to contributions that were meaningful to your brand? Seriously, if you are a brand do you only want customers who “Like” and Follow you, or do you want customers that not only purchase but also contribute to the goals of what your brand represents? Seriously, what do you want? You had better define it quickly or you too will be feasting on the addiction and come up dry.

This past weekend I had the pleasure to hear Ed Stetzer (President, LifeWay Research) speak, which prompted this article. In his talk, Ed was speaking about how most people sit and listen and how very few ever do anything. Most people are, in essence, consumers of information—very rarely do they take action. Meaningful contributions are few and far between. As I listened to Ed, I thought to myself, ‘Yes, this is the same problem facing social media!’

Every week I get a new pitch from a company, (and clients as well) who wants to drive “Likes” and Followers via some cheap contest or giveaway. I don’t fully discourage this, but in most cases a solid social plan beyond another 25K, 50K or 100K Followers has not been determined. No solid communication or measurement to value proposition has been created beyond that “Like.” “Likes” are the new vice.

You’ll hear this at conferences too. So-called social media experts pontificate about more Followers and case studies that have grown a brand from 0 to 100K+ Followers in days. Guess what? Everyone has a similar case study (I can show you a handful myself)…but so what!

The same folks may have cute one-liners too such as, “I’m the mayor of my pants,” in a nod to location-based social services, and I laugh with them – it’s funny. Unfortunately, the cute one-liners get more ReTweets than anything of value the speaker may have likely stated in bigger context. The reality is that most of you have been fed bad information by the Mayor of Wrong Direction; having not built a solid long-term plan for most of anything that has been created for those Followers to contribute. It’s ok, don’t beat yourself up – you’re not alone. The good news is you can create a plan to get out of this vicious cycle.

Most Followers stay on the sidelines, while true brand champions and co-laborers take steps to make meaningful contributions. I’m not talking about the contribution of a ReTweet. That’s akin to a passive click of the mouse.

I’m talking about meaningful action, as in they ReTweeted, they bought and then they mobilized others to do the same through some other function or means.

For example: Let’s say you are Delta Airlines – you have customers. You have – on Twitter – a lot of angry customers (I admit I have been one of them), but you also have really passionate folks (I am one of them too) that love the brand and love the services such as the Crown Room, upgrades,association with American Express and the occasional awesome customer service representative that exceeds their expectations. I have a lot of complaints with Delta, but overall I still choose them over others because they do make meaningful contributions to me as an individual and I, in turn, do the same for them. However, I’m also mobilized in their passion and work for breast cancer – they take some really great steps to integrate a breast cancer message once a year, and that engages me beyond the ticket or a sale in the greater goals of the company.

Trend Alert: Consumers are looking for brands that engage them in the greater goals of the company through other efforts not related specifically to the product or service.

I’ll go as far as to say that a brand should not want customers. Customers are finicky creatures and, by nature, are drawn to the next best thing.  Brands should want co-laborers that believe in what their brand stands for and will fight for those goals and improve upon them = Meaningful Contributors.

Let’s face it now. The “Like” is the 2010 remix version of 1997’s “Click-Through-Rate,” and that is a battle we are still trying to unravel after all these years. What do I mean by that? Say you have 150,000 Facebook “Likes,” what is your Facebook insight interaction/feedback percentage? 0.34%, 0.51% and the occasional 2.1% – we’re talking the click-through-rate of the 2010’s, people…we need to move on and move on quickly. If we focus on the “Likes” and the Followers we will reduce the social media industry value to the equivalent of the click-through-rate, and that is a deep dark hole from which it may never escape.

It takes considerable effort to have a solid stable of co-laborers, but we need to invent that type of action and encourage people to share in the work to create that co-laborer relationship. Fact: most of your Followers are unengaged in your message. It’s time to change that.

Some quick tips. Ask yourself the following:

1. What is keeping your business from attracting co-laborers in the brand message?

2. What steps can you take to engage consumers of your brand to participate actively in your organisation’s goals?

3. How will you measure that, and what value will you place on it?

If you are having trouble answering those questions, you need to seek advice from an expert in this industry with the knowledge, tools and resources to answer them with you and provide proper and accountable direction.

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