Marketers are trying hard to increase their number of fans on Facebook and followers on Twitter. This makes sense. It gives them an audience of people who expressed an interest in what they have to offer.
The question marketers need to ask is what they are going to do with all these new fans and followers. How will having someone as a fan or follower fundamentally improve the relationships between the brand and the customer? Adverts often say “Follow us on Twitter!” “Become a fan on Facebook!”. But they never say why.
What’s worse, some marketers are trying all sorts of tricks to get people to fan or follow them. There is an arms race for the most fans or followers. But the question is whether quantity or quality of fans is a better goal. I’d argue for the latter, yet many are going for the former. Bing is a case in point.
[Disclaimer: I work for Google. I'd prefer to use a different example but this is the best one I've got]
Bing ran an ad inside Farmville, offering Farmville users “Farm cash” (real money that can be used to buy stuff in the game) in exchange for becoming a fan of Bing on Facebook.
Farmville users were motivated to act, and Bing had 400,000 new fans in 24 hours. This gave them more fans on Facebook than Google. But so what? What does that mean? The quality of those fans is questionable. Are those people really fans of Bing? Or are they fans of Farmville? Many people filled Bing’s Facebook wall with questions about Farmville, and whether Bing were handing out any more free cash. Was this what Bing had hoped for? I don’t know Bing’s goals with this marketing activity, so I can’t comment on whether it was a success. I can only look at their wall, and conclude that the content and quality of conversation there, is unlikely to be what Bing had hoped for.
Before you try and collect as many fans and followers as possible, think long and hard about who you want as a fan/follower, and what value you’re going to give them when they follow you.
You don’t want the most fans. You want the best fans.