The World Beyond Fan Acquisition

For many brands, the more followers or fans, the better. In other words, it’s all about quantity.

But what if size doesn’t matter? What if having a lot of followers or fans isn’t important if most of them are not engaged with a brand, other than perhaps swinging by one in a blue moon for freebies (free bagel, anyone?), a contest or game?

For some brands, having a large number of followers or fans means less than having a vibrant and engaged community that is loyal and become brand evangelists or advocates.

Brand Republic had a couple of interesting quotes at the Social Brand conference in London last week that talk to quality over quantity:

“We are now looking to develop broader social CRM programmes and trigger advocacy through word of mouth.”
– Debbie Weinstein, Senior Director, Social Media Innovation, with Unilever

“We need to remember they aren’t actually fans, that is just what Facebook calls them, they are often just people that have been recruited by competitions and they aren’t really engaged.”
Magnus Cormack, director of strategy and intelligence at Syncapse Corp.

These are interesting and revealing quotes because they reflect how social media is evolving as brands become more comfortable and experience with using social media. The novelty stage is over, the “embrace stage” has taken hold, and now more brands are looking for more value and return from social media other than high-profile metrics such as fans and followers.

In many ways, this has a lot to do with brands looking to social media to drive sales and profits. As much as we like to talk about engagement, conversations and community, brands also need to justify the investment being made in social media. If social media isn’t helping the business grow, then a brand might be better off using another marketing and sales vehicle.

This doesn’t suggests having a lot of fans or followers is unimportant or irrelevant but more brands want more from their social media efforts.