I have recently read an article by Andrew Hutchinson in Social Media Today speculating on why Facebook maybe removing the Likes count from business pages. I was not surprised that Facebook might be doing this and I will explain shortly, but I am again disappointed on how misdirected social media “experts” are in understanding their own industry.
It is my supposition in this blog that digital marketing should be taken out of the marketing department and moved into Sales, CRM and Product Development. Below is a long winded rationale but in the short it comes down to this:
Marketing is grounded in traditional approaches of “Big Idea” and “Paid Media”. Traditional marketing, PR and advertising is inherently anti-social. As a result their influence on social media apps e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. are making the apps less “social” and more “advertising” driven.
Sales, customer relations/ service and product development are inherently social. They depend on interaction and engagement with customers to make a business thrive. If it was their influence on the evolution of social media apps we would see less advertising and more personal interaction or “social”.
Long winded starts here:
I do not know Mr. Hutchinson and so my interpretation of his article is mine and likely just as flawed as I believe is his understanding of social media. He states that Facebook maybe removing Liike counts because Likes have no value. After all you can buy them, so what value are they? This single statements sums up clearly what is the biggest gap/ crime in social media and it is not driven by malice but by the wrong people.
Likes from fake fans or people who really don’t care about your brand are worthless and just for show, with this I agree. However Fans that are carefully cultivated because they have expressed an interest in your brand and content and you have reciprocated by demonstrating interest in them and a desire to provide good content and engage with them are very valuable fans. This is called Owned Media and it is the value of your community. In accounting it can be called Good Will or marketing equity which is the real dollar amount of treating your customers well.
Owned media is where by being nice “social” you actively build a following of Fans that are truly “organically” engaged with your brand conversation. This is not easy, this takes skill, knowledge and commitment and that is why few media agencies and marketing professionals do it. Most agencies and “experts” prefer the faster and easier approach of Paid media. Paid media is exactly what is sounds like; advertising. It is quick, transitory, no loyalty and no lasting community.
So why would experts think that paid is better than owned and why would Facebook be encouraging a move away from owned media? Well I have given a quick reason why social/ marketing experts prefer paid. But why is Facebook? The answer is also equally and unfortunately cynical. Facebook would like to move to an advertising model for businesses. It is easy, highly lucrative and inline with OLD SCHOOL methodology. Traditional marketing is highly anti-social. It is based on creating one big idea (one size fits all philosophy) and a lot of media buy (advertising). All traditional advertising companies operate off of this formula and therefore so do their 50+ year old CMO clients.
This is an easy compromise for Facebook and large companies to embrace. Facebook taps into large budgets, no longer needs to keep updating their algorithm or releasing new functionality for business, but instead just strips it down and collects the checks. The CMOs of companies rest easy because when you have spent your whole career climbing the ladder the last thing you want to do when you reach the top is have to learn a whole bunch of new stuff.
Time to change the team:
Social in the long term pays much higher rewards, but it requires skill and dedication. Many companies are just now starting to understand that social media is not really a new and scary concept, but actually grounded in the processes many companies already do on a daily basis. But instead of finding these processes in the marketing department they are found in sales, customer support, recruitment and product development. These business functions understand the importance of maintaining close and meaningful relationships with the customers for a business to thrive. Look to any statistic and they will all point to the same conclusion:
It is cheaper to keep a customer than get a new one
A happy customer is a repeat customer
There is nothing more valuable than customer feedback (data)