Once upon a time you were able to bombard consumers with messages as you saw fit. Yeah, yeah, yeah image was important but you could delegate that to the the ad agency and even if you weren't the most like-able business around (cigarette anyone?) you could still blast your message through with mass media.
But the power has shifted.
The consumer is no longer a passive viewer. They're armed! With remotes, a mouse, sharing tools and like buttons. In this new era of consumer activism they reward businesses they like, punish ones they don't and they control what messages they and their friends see and which ones they don't. According to Facebook only .02% of status updates actually make it to the news feed because not enough people have liked it. So the degree to which your business is liked has a direct impact on whether you're seen on Facebook, re-tweeted on Twitter and, in general, how far your message will get shared and spread online.
So is your business like-able enough to get shared?
Here's a checklist you can use to score your company out of 10 to see if you're making it easy for people to say "I like you".
- Is your content easy to like? Do you have 'like' and retweet buttons and sharing tools installed on all of your content: on your site, in your email, in YouTube channel and in your presentations via SlideShare so that people can easily give it the thumbs up the way they like?
- Are your updates all Deal-Deal-Deal? Is your information stream just endless promotion or are you legitimately trying to help people? There's nothing wrong with a deal that comes at the right time to the right person but, for most categories, if you just use a shotgun approach you're not going to build a very large following. At the very least include some interesting, relevant content with the content. If you're promoting a hotel package for a sports event, include some footage from last year's event. Your message will travel farther because of relevance.
- Do you let people get to know you? Or do you hide behind the corporate wall? Because of the social web people want to know more about the people they do business with. Why they started the business, do they have a dog, are they a real person? Even big businesses need to understand social media is all about personal connection. A recent study concluded that businesses that have an underdog story, whether they're as big as Google or as small as a startup, are more likely to have their products purchased. So tell your story and put faces to the name.
- Do you ask your fans what they want to see? They followed you for a reason. Here's a novel concept: ask them what kind of updates they want to see. What information would they find helpful and interesting? Did they like this or that? Followers of a software company may want to hear about new usage applications from other customers.
- Did you say thank you? If you got lucky enough to get your content shared, did you remember what your mom told you and say thank you? When they pay you a compliment, blog about you, say how much they love your product, a simple 'thank you' goes a long way in keeping the dialogue going and extending the buzz into the news feed.
- Do you know who your biggest fans are and do you reward them? I'm convinced most companies don't know which of their customers are their most loyal, enthusiastic fans. How do you do that? Simple. Survey them. Once you know who thinks the most highly of you and is more likely to recommend you can reward them with anything from a simple birthday greeting or develop a more formal program that surprises them with a simple gift periodically. Rewarding passion, enthusiasm and engagement will definitely make you more like-able.
- Do you have a customer referral program? If your customer goes out on a limb and actually recommends you do you have a way to reward them for it? Email service provider MailChimp has a great program where you get 3 free email test inspections for every customer you send them. They give you the tools to make it easy to forward a referral to your network and what they provide as a reward costs them very little in hard costs.
- Do you have a mission that's easy to understand and support? Most companies have mission statements that are so vague and so broad that it's not clear why and how I should support them. Google is the most well-known example of doing it right. We may occasionally question a specific tactic or product launch but their mission to organize the world's information is easily understood, admirable and keeps them on the right side of like. Vs. Microsoft's which is….? How's yours? Is it about the company or is it bigger than that?
- Are you generous? These days with so much transparency thanks to social media a brand is what a brand does. And companies with good values will do better in media that is social. So make sure you have programs that give back to the community without asking for anything in return. Make sure you tell them all the things you're involved in. And make sure you are generous in supporting other causes related to your place in this world and to the interests of your fans.
- Do you have apps that solve a problem that most people have? Or are they just games? Absolut's Drinkspiration app that provides easy-to-read cocktail recipes according to your mood. That helps them, their customers and the bartender. It's a win-win-win.
So how'd you do?
Or can you come up with other ways businesses become 'like-able' to you?
Bob Nunn is an Internet Marketing Consultant in Toronto and the founder of BrandMechanics. Bob has a successful track record of helping companies fine-tune their online marketing and getting their brands revved up. He has won over 40 marketing awards for his work in advertising, new media, email and more for clients such as Yellow Pages Group ‘The Find Engine’, Blockbuster ‘Guaranteed To Be There’, FutureShop ‘You’ll like what the future has in store.’ and 3M ‘Innovation’ among others.