Attracting Social Media Fans: Give ‘Em What They Want

influence the masses


We all know the value of social media fans:

  • they spread your message through their networks, acting like word of mouth on steroids.
  • defend your brand when others complain
  • answer consumer questions and share satisfaction about your brand
  • influence others to buy your brand

You want to generate MORE social media fans and keep them engaged.  So, give ‘em what they want.

How Social Media Fans Create Value

Social media fans create value because everything they say in social networks echoes throughout their network, expanding quickly.

If you have 1000 followers and they each have 300 followers, you’ve now reached 300,000 consumers.  And if just half of these consumers share your message with their network by commenting, sharing, or +1 in your message, you’ve reached 45 MILLION consumers. Transmitting a message that reaches 45 million TV viewers on prime time TV would cost somewhere between $150,000 – $400,000 per 30 second spot.  Add another $350,000 to produce the commercial and you’re talking some serious money.

So, we want lots of social media fans and we want them engaged with our brand.

Give Social Media Fans What They Want

How do you create a social media fan?

People become fans because you give them what they want.  But, what is that?

Well, you could ask social media fans (fans, followers, circle …) what they want and that’s a good option.  But, you’re likely to get either very generic type answers or stuff that’s too granular — I want to see video (generic) or I want to know more about xyz feature (granular).

So, what do fans want?

  1. They want information — news about your product, how to use it, where it’s available, etc.  But, they also want information not specifically about your product, but in a related area.  I’m a fan of Howard University, where I work.  They only post information related to what’s going on at the university — using it as a PR channel.  Instead, they could share information about things going on in DC, where they’re located, or about African Americans, since its an HBCU, or about eduction, in general.  They’re missing a huge opportunity.
  2. They want to be part of a community - opportunities to build a real community are dwindling, but virtual communities (online) are gaining quickly because people like to be part of a community.  Firms build a community by allowing others to have a voice in their social networks — for instance asking consumers about features they want in new products.  Firms build community by responding to consumers and by engaging fans.  Google is doing a good job of this in Google+, forcing Facebook to respond by creating Facebook for Business.  Firms build a community by celebrating consumers. Dove is a good example of this with their program celebrating “real women” and campaign for self-esteem. The ads were hugely successfulCalifornia tortilla invited social media fans to comment on their new logo, resulting in a stronger fanbase, more engaged fans, and a logo that resonated with consumers better.
  3. They want to be entertained.  So, give ‘em a game or a cool ap.  Look at the Progressive and State Farm apps for mobile phones.  Now, they really don’t do anything all that useful and you’ll likely never need them, but the apps are cool and fun, so the apps are attracting customers.  Music, games, video, infographics, and many other tactics make social media more entertaining, attracting fans and business for the firm.
  4. They want status.  Social media fans enjoy being the first to know things — they like the feeling of being in the inner circle.  Starbucks offers lots of freebies, advance info on new products, coffee making tips, and other stuff ONLY to social media fans.  Of course, fans share offers with their social networks, increasing the reach for Starbuck’s message and building a bigger fanbase. Taylor Swift uploads tracks f to her Facebook Fanpage before the albums are released in the stores.

Did I leave something out? What strategies does your firm use to build a bigger fanbase?

How can your firm use these 4 strategies to build a bigger, more engaged fanbase?


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Branding, PIVOT, and Paid PR

Brand Awareness

I have a question from a linkedin connection: “what is the best way to create brand awareness for loyalty programs?”

Nancy Loderick

I say it would depend on the buyer persona for the loyalty programs. Where are the customers/prospects? Are they online? Where online? Depending on where these folks are, I would focus on that particular media, e.g. Facebook.

What is the biggest pain point for these customers/prospects? Create some good content that solves their problem.

What drives these prospects? Are they bargain hunters? In which case, coupons may work.

In summary, I would say it all depends on what drives the customers/prospects. Once you know their needs and their pain points, you can create content and programs to address these.

Marketing That Works

To me, brand awareness is more than where to reach customers, its positioning the loyalty program (and the brand) effectively. For instance, Marriott builds its loyalty program by asking loyal guests for feedback on their visit. If they rate their stay as anything less than perfect, the evaluation goes to the property manager. The manager than has 24 hours to correct the problem and make the customer happy. If not, the complaint is forwarded to the manager’s boss for action. By focusing on delivering quality (Marriott has around 97% customer satisfaction), they build loyalty.
Loyal customers WANT to join a loyalty program to get rewarded for something they already like doing (because its satisfying). I guess what I’m saying is the building a brand is a lot more than advertising and PR — its walking the walk.
Also, awareness doesn’t buy you much. Im aware of LOTS of brands I would NEVER buy. Its brand image that’s the goal. Having a positive brand image builds profitability.

Steve Wiideman

At Disney, we did an “affordability” campaign, that had little to do with discounts and more to do with reminding people about how much love the brand.

Daily deals are addictive and though I’ve wanted to, I have yet to remove myself from LivingSocial or Groupon. That sure says something for loyalty.

Brand awareness and loyalty are completely two different beasts. For brand awareness, you could drop a LOT of money into a content-targeted campaign on AdWords, AdCenter, MIVA, and, the way LiquidWeb is right now (they have a banner ad on almost every tech-related website in existence at the moment).

Loyalty isn’t rocket science. It revolves around communicating, offering incentives, influencing (maybe even exaggerating) perceived value, inviting guests to special events and spoiling them, grandfathering them in to lower pricing, etc.

Richard Winfield Lewis To bring attention to a customer loyalty program (does branding really matter in this case as long as we gain customer loyalty?) is to target your existing customers first. This is an easy first step and helps to make casual customers regular customers. The next step is to target industry ‘influencers’. <– those people who influence a large number of other people. My goals when managing a campaign are very clear, do the least work with the most impact.

Paid PR

I’d love some advice on how to deal with a client who is in love with paid PR services. He keeps insisting on using them, even though they haven’t worked in the past. I’m trying to convince him that we need to create a more effective online presence via the website and content. (This is a fledgling business consulting company that he runs.) Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks.

  • Marketing That Works My tactic would be to gather metrics on his current solution, then show him how poorly these are performing. I know its a lot of work, but if you want to get him as a client, its worth it. Also, he’ll likely be thrilled you went the extra mile and recommend you to colleagues.

    Nancy Loderick Thanks for the tip Angela. I like your idea. This client is a process/numbers guy so I think showing him numbers would get his attention.

    Marketing That Works I happy to help. Let me know if this doesn’t work and I may be able to come up with another idea.

    Steve Wiideman

    Hi Nancy, sorry it took so long to jump in today, the week has been crazy.

    PR can be an extremely powerful way to build industry credibility, earn backlinks for SEO, and improve online reputation. Of course, this assumes it’s being done by a professional who gets your business featured in magazines, your directors get speaking gigs at conferences, and you’re interviewed by newspapers at least once per month. If you’re not, then it’s not really PR, it’s article distribution.

    Hope this helps?

    Marketing That Works Thanks Steve, always nice to get your perspective on things.

    Dave Saunders Are you talking about traditional PR (i.e., sending a press release to the media, getting on CNN, etc.) or New Media PR (i.e., disintermediating the media and reaching the public directly with Internet content?

    Nancy Loderick Hi Steve,
    Thanks for your thoughts. In looking back at my client’s past PR content, it was not good. So, I think it has been a combination of poorly written content and merelyl a distribution.

    Steve Wiideman Ha – thought as much. :)

    Steve Wiideman

    Nancy Loderick Thanks for the examples Steve! Even if one knows what constitutes “good PR,” it’s helpful to have real examples.

    Nancy Loderick Dave – to youir question about PR – traditional or new media. My client is only familiar with traditional (he’s in in 60’s), while my expertise is in the new media type.

    Dave Saunders Nancy — I’ve found that to be a challenge with clients. The games are played in different ways. It muddies the waters. Perhaps you could recommend he read The New Rules of Marketing and PR. David Meerman Scott does a great job explaining the differences and then you can use a third party to reinforce the benefits of your approach.

    Richard Winfield Lewis The oldest and best advice for any consultant is that you give them what they need and not what they want. Once you know the goal(s) and the target market(s) then just get them paying customers. That is the bottom line and all that matters. Once they see the money rolling in they won’t care how you did it. In this case I suggest micro-targeting to ensure effectivenss. Do whatever it takes to convert your target audience to sales. If you are not sure that you can delier results then don’t take their money.

    Nancy Loderick Thanks Dave and Richard – I appreciate your advice.