With many social media marketers striving to acquire vast numbers of followers and likers, it seems the objective is to focus solely on scale. The more eyeballs they can get in front of with their message, the more conversions they can get, even if the conversion rate is infinitesimally small.
Doesn't this sound like direct mail? Where exactly is direct mail on the scale between dying and dead? Furthermore, isn't that what we're trying to get away from?
In a recent blog post, Julien Smith points out (and I'm paraphrasing here) that a person who has a thousand friends on Facebook, really has a thousand acquaintances because he or she is not truly investing anything in the relationship. To assist in the upkeep of friends on this scale, Facebook reminds you when your friends' birthdays are and there's even an app to automate the sending of a birthday greeting. In the end, however, "that's why sending a birthday note on Facebook is not a measure of closeness." It actually becomes kind of a sterile courtesy, when compared to a personal message or email.
An inflation of followers and likers also creates an environment whereby the communication is one-way. And if you are locked into an organizational structure wherein all communication must funnel through a single communications department, it's unmanageable. Again, this reduces many social media efforts to the old, tired mass communications platform that is top-down, one-way, and supposed to be on its way to obsolete.
What you do about all this is still evolving. One solution is to break the funnel and open the communication function up to more people within the organization. Heaven forbid! How will we control and manage our message? You can't. I have no words of comfort on that. I think tightly controlled messages are about to become the exclusive domain of very large corporations and organizations that don't rely on large numbers of consumers. And even that's debatable.
But I'm also wondering about the wisdom of the more-is-better strategy of acquiring followers and likers. Perhaps the more effective long view is to allow this number to grow more organically as a result of doing good work and communicating about that. It may sound old-fashioned, but it also may be the way of the future.
Marta Kagan's "Bonafide Marketing Genius" Blog
Andre Sanders' "Running Without Condition" Blog
Jessica Sneeringer's "Mal-Diction" Blog