Interacting with clients that hire me to create a Social Media campaign for them, I often find myself explaining the hen-chicken dilemma. How is the hen-chicken thing related to Social Media? Well, companies and institutions usually approach me with the following challenge: “We want to use social media to interact with our consumers/clients/students/donors?”. Pretty fast, their request translates into “We want more Facebook fans. More Twitter followers”. Question is, what comes first? Chicken or hen? Fans or Branding?
Tactics recommended vary from client to client, from brand to brand; but this is my recommendation from a strategic standpoint: Don’t spend your marketing dollars on incentives or promotions to get more Facebook fans, more Twitter followers, just for the sake of it. Instead, invest your marketing efforts in creating a brand that is worth being a fan, that is worth following. Use your Social Media resources to create a social media community that lives up to the power of your brand, where your fans and followers interact with their favorite brand and strengthen their bond with your brand.
Social media is a just one of the components in your relationship with your consumers. If you have a healthy brand, healthy in business fundamentals (pricing, distribution, etc.) you can do magic with the social media. But it is unfair to expect a turn around in the business just by leveraging on a social media campaign, if your fundamentals are weak. Social media for an unhealthy brand is like having people over and serving the most delicious dinner in a table with only two legs. Go fix that table before you put anything on it. Otherwise, they won’t even get to try your food.
Having a Facebook fan page won’t itself make people become a fan of your brand. Fans of your brand however will find it cool to find their favorite brand on Social Media, and will find it rewarding if what is being offer to them in these platforms is as exciting as their favorite brand. That, generates word of mouth. That, generates business.