Five Reasons Consumers will “Friend” Your Company.

In my last post, I noted six hard truths or axioms I’ve developed about social media. And while these are sobering thoughts, it’s only by facing a medium’s weaknesses that you can truly leverage its power.

So let’s look at another sobering set of thoughts today. If we’re going to look at the people who will be your company’s friend, what motivates them to become your friend?

Reasons People will Friend Your Company

The best starting point is to look at the value they get from connecting with your company. My team finds that there are five primary categories.

– Coupon Clippers. Many consumers “friend” companies to seek discounts and deals. In other words, they are the coupon clippers. Interesting. Coupon clippers are powerful short-term revenue opportunities. But historically they have less brand loyalty and are of lower lifetime value to companies.

– Party Animals. Many consumers friend companies because of clever “entertainment” (typically unrelated to product value). This is especially true for brands who make entertainment the focus of their online experience. Truth is that a significant portion of Party Animals are unlikely to ever use or purchase the product. One great example of Party Animal social work was this year’s Old Spice campaign. Their online campaign generated massive social media interaction and ad business hype. But, it appears to have had no detectable impact on sales.

– Groupies. There are some consumers who become professional “fans” – groupies. And, this happens for every company – not just the “hip” ones. The volume of groupies can be increased with effort. And, they are a lot like rock star groupies — emotionally significant to the company, but they won’t fill an arena and they won’t make your numbers for the year.

– Customer Care. Many consumers connect with companies to seek customer service. One article I read this year pointed out that this is akin to “protecting your investment”. If you own a Toyota and are concerned about this year’s safety problems, you are more likely to “friend” them just to be up-to-date on recall notices.

– Brand Engagers. Some connectors are truly engaged with your brand and will use social media to maintain contact. My axiom is that for broad based social media (e.g. Facebook) this last group is important, but unlikely to be more than 10% or 15% of your total social media connectors.

What does this mean?

I can’t tell you what portion of your social media “friends” will fall into each category. That will depend on many factors including the design of your efforts to attract friends and the fundamentals of your product, brand, and category.

But when you look at that group that gathers around your company, some generalizations are quite reasonable.

1. The hype surrounding social media far outweighs it’s economic value to companies. I think is quite common to find that no more than 5% of your target will even entertain a social media connection. The further fragmentation into five categories makes each segment quite small.

2. As a result, it’s quite easy to spend your money chasing around after your least valuable consumers.

3. If you want your social media relationships to be significant to your company, then you need to avoid the hype and the easy answers in creating social media connections. Instead, take some lessons from the direct marketing world and embrace the social media efforts that build solid & long-term relationships.

In no way do I think you should stay away from social media. But whatever your efforts, enter social media with your eyes open.

Copyright 2010 – Doug Garnett

About Doug Garnett
Doug Garnett is an expert introducing innovative consumer products and services to market while driving higher return on innovation investment. His career has been spent in innovation and he is the president of Protonik, LLC - an innovation consultancy focused on marketing and innovation. Prior to founding Protonik, he was founder and CEO of ad agency Atomic Direct.

3 Responses to Five Reasons Consumers will “Friend” Your Company.

  1. I really enjoyed this post. You make some excellent points about recognizing the limitations on who can be reached and engaged through social media. I do think its importance as a communication channel will continue to grow though, especially given the rapid rise in smartphone ownership. Having a presence in social media is practically expected by consumers already, so taking ownership and managing your brand within that space is important. The Facebook advertising platform also seems like a currently undervalued tool for reaching a hyper-targeted audience through social media. Of course understanding what it is that you’re trying to achieve is most important. It seems that all too many companies enter the social media space with no clear goals or metrics in place, and then abandon it when they realize the level of engagement it requires.

    • Doug Garnett says:

      Great to hear from you, Mike. Hope things are well.

      I think it’s a matter of degree with much of the social media – and finally envisioning a realistically powerful role in the ad mix. Don’t know what to make of the “consumer’s expect” idea. It’s true. Yet, if you have to trade off a serious biz development investment with an equal amount in order to make a substantial Facebook presence, are you really losing much in social media? Besides, if you do it right when you do it, you’ll “catch up” fast so I don’t think we’re missing if we don’t develop an extensive Facebook presence. Ideally, you have budget to do all that you need at the right investment level.

      Keep up the good work.


  2. Pingback: 4th of July Reading: Research Helps Segment Social Media Users for Advertisers « Doug Garnett's Blog

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