To LIKE or not to LIKE…

There seems to something akin to a marketing frenzy to build Facebook LIKE’S among companies. Almost every second email I get relates to a contest that is trying to entice me with a $xxx,xxx prize or a dream vacation. However, when I excitedly click on the entry link it frustratingly forces me to LIKE the product in order to enter the contest.

Sure, it will help you drive up the number of Facebook LIKES on your fan page in the short-term but what is the real and long-term value of this? I get that there are many statistics out there about how conversion and engagement is much higher on Twitter and Facebook and social media is all the frenzy in marketing today but for a moment let’s break down the psychology of most of these contests.

I am not saying all contests are the same and therefore not valuable but am merely talking about the recent frenzy where the prizes have no bearing or relevance to the company, or product, and the contest itself does nothing to build customer engagement with the brand. Most importantly when you throw the kitchen sink by emailing people randomly, it becomes akin to a marketing bribe where in order to receive a LIKE; rather than trying to target a relevant audience and do it on the merits of your brand or product story.

The simplest way to think about – imagine walking down the street one day you decide you want to make 100 new friends that evening. You could simply stop every person you see and offer to pay for their dinner at a really fancy restaurant, like Per Se. I have no doubt you would end up with 100 new “friends” very quickly, and without too much effort. Now what are the odds that any one of these 100 people will actually ever have anything to do with you again or be there in a pinch? Versus building real friendships through time, common interests and all the other real and meaningful stuff.

This is what these almost daily contest emails have become for most of these brands. Everyone from airlines to tampon makers have sent me emails, to enter contests, but only after I LIKE them on Facebook. Ninety percent of them have no relevance to me, my purchase history or my interests. It seems all these so called social media agencies are throwing the kitchen sink to drive up campaign success metrics, which frankly are of little value for the brand. Because even if the grand prize for a tampon product was so amazing that I decided to LIKE it to simply be eligible to enter, I am never going to purchase that product of have any future interaction of engagement with the brand.

Social media done right is about building long-term relationships, kind of the way we build friendships in the real world; and it is hard work.

So the next time you want to increase your fan page LIKES on Facebook, remember that 10 truly engaged customers will not only spend much more money on your products, consistently, over the long-term but also are more likely to become evangelists for your brand. Their value alone will be greater than the 1000+ LIKES you may add of people who don’t even know what your company makes.

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Not So CrackBerry…

“The stream of high-profile departures from Research In Motion Ltd.’s marketing department over the last few months has put the spotlight on an area where the BlackBerry maker has traditionally been weak: understanding and talking to ordinary consumers.”  Read more at Wall Street Journal: http://on.wsj.com/kluJiu

I worked with RIM as a result of a partnership one of my clients had with them around 2002. At the time BlackBerry ruled the roost. They were the only smartphone and had a near total monopoly of the corporate market and the “Road Warrior” segment. In fact, every corporation and service provider was courting and wooing RIM to the point that each one of their employees seemed to believe that they had just invented sliced bread; they were not arrogant, just thrilled – it felt like a company that believed it had conquered the summit.

Except for one problem – their device was crap!

This is the issue I had with BlackBerry at the time. It was called CrackBerry by business people because they said once you picked one up it was impossible to put it down again. But what RIM failed to realize or acknowledge then and for many years after, was that it was not the beauty, ease-of-use or the user experience of their devices that people were addicted to but the access to 24×7 emails and information it gave them. And that BlackBerry was dominant because nobody else offered the same access. Not because they had invented a device nobody could live without.

As a result the other blindness they suffered was that they never anticipated or cared about the consumer market. Apple walked in the back door and totally blew them away. Suddenly, BlackBerry was faced with increased competition in the business segment from Microsoft and others, and had totally missed a huge opportunity in the consumer market; which Apple realized can be easily transferred into the corporate one with a better device and user experience.

It is a classic trap that most companies and brands fall into. When they totally dominate or have a near monopoly of a market or segment, they stop doing the one thing that allowed them to become so dominant – innovate! Instead, they rest on their laurels, build opaque walls around themselves, stop listening to customer needs and begin to believe that their customers will blindly follow them forever.