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Posts Tagged ‘Brand’


The social media obsession with large numbers of followers and fans is so 2010. It is clear more than even that as people, groups, companies, and brands all jump into the social media space, the issue of quality over quantity is more important that anything else. We had said this a while back in 2009, when Twitter was more fun and Facebook less brand-like.

Now that these two social media icons as well as a small number of other networks have grown in mainstream acceptance, just like a frothy latte, the time for the cream to rise to the top is critical. (Pardon the bad metaphor, it’s Saturday morning!).

So, the whole issue of engagement and enduring relationships is the goal EVERY social media profile should achieve. This maxim would also apply to brands more than ever. Social media is not, and never will be, a quick shot of whiskey at the bar, it is a long enjoyable meal, with several rounds of drinks at the beginning, a few appetizers, some killer first courses, don’t forget the dessert, and the mandatory after party!

The point is this: for any brand (or individual) to stand out in a growing and very crowded universe, you MUST take the extra few steps to establish a real and authentic presence online. This includes (wait for it): spending real time to WORK your profiles, meet real profiles, chat, be respectful, get to know your followers, and as my man Ted Rubin has been saying: FOSTER REAL RELATIONSHIPS ALWAYS. Sustain them. Nurture them. And guess what, everyone? That takes hard work.

Luckily for everyone, the social media giants are giving us free tools to achieve this. Don’t get us wrong: we know Facebook is king, and it looks like it will still be king for a while, but one of the biggest problems with it right now is that EVERYONE IS ON IT. When a local deli is on Facebook and the deli puts its Facebook page on its menu, you know that Facebook is a part of life. So now, users on Facebook  are inundated with Facebook Fan Pages. It has become a silly quest for numbers when it fact the ONLY STAT THAT MATTERS IS THIS ONE:

How many people are talking about you right now on Facebook?

That one little Facebook stat in a Facebook Fan Page is all that matters. If people aren’t talking about you, then you are just wasting your time. If at any moment of the day, you don’t have at least 5% talking about you organically, it is time to change your strategy.

Sure, even if you are a large Facebook Fan Page with large numbers, you can offset such a low engagement percentage, but wouldn’t anyone want to increase that percentage? Don’t you want to go from say 2.5% percent (which is a really low number in the grand scheme of things) to say, 5%? And wouldn’t you want to do it organically (not through PAID links and clicks and advertising)? That would be an 100% increase in your engagement.

We will take 20% engagement on a daily basis any time

When I formed Latino Rebels early last year with about 20 other social media influentials who understand what best practices are, we really worked hard to build relationships with our fans. Our Facebook presence was key to our company strategy.

We are happy to say that by BEING THE CONNECTOR and BUILDING SUSTAINABLE RELATIONSHIPS, our current Facebook engagement rate has ranged from 20% to 25% in the last four months. As we grow our Facebook presence, we build it slowly and organically, and it is actually incredibly fun to see how many of our Facebook fans now comment and more importantly, post on our Wall to share content that we eventually might cover for our main website.

UPDATE, January 18, 2011: And once in a while, we hit a blackjack. Latest stats from LR on FB:

That level of engagement takes hard work, it takes time, and most importantly, you cannot be lazy about it. Whenever someone comments on our Facebook posts, the Latino Rebels respond to those people. If there are long threads, we are part of that thread, encouraging people to comment, asking them questions and connecting in a truly authentic.

Because of this, LatinoRebels.com and the entire Latino Rebels social network have quickly become a destination point for a very desirable demographic. Our numbers are not only growing, but our fans are also engaging and opinionated! That is what community is all about. That is why we love social media, and if  brands don’t wake up and understand this, eventually people will tune out and just see their fake Facebook pages are forced, opportunistic, and not authentic at all.

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So last week, Sports Illustrated opened up its cover selection process to social media, letting anyone in the world vote for the best picture of 2011. In the end, the fans chose Rutgers’ Eric LaGrand and his inspirational story. Granted, it was a good choice, but the explanation by SI’s Terry McDonell reveals that in the end, big brands don’t get social media, and you are left to wonder if they ever will.

This is what McDonell wrote in last week’s issue:

The idea that the editor should relinquish that call this week and ask fans to choose the cover came from Scott Novak, SI’s vice president of communications. Novak is editorial minded and brilliant at driving connections with readers through social-media platforms such as the SI Facebook page, where he proposed to invite visitors to vote for the best sports moment of the year, with the winner featured on the year-end cover. The argument against him was simple: As much as readers may second-guess the magazine’s cover choices, that’s where they want SI’s credibility and authority to start. And who said the voters would be readers in the first place? But the argument Novak, his team and a growing number of staffers made was that letting the public in on the selection process would strengthen the bond between the magazine and its readers and, further, allow SI to plug into a new two-way relationship with a wider landscape of sports fans.

Again, it was a noble effort, but McDonell’s words reveal a few misconceptions that brands still blindly follow when it comes to social media. This is why in the end SI missed the mark:
  • It’s all about control. There is still this assumption by media outlets that in order to succeed in the digital space, they must still control the message. And that is where the problem lies. Once you commit to social media, everyone becomes an equal, from the magazine to the readers to the people who tweet about the brand.
  • Social media credibility comes from actual engagement. It is just hard to believe that SI truly “gets it” now. The SI example, as much as its editors think it is “two-way conversation,” it is still SOCIAL MEDIA LITE. SI missed the opportunity to take their cover selection process and really make it 100% engaging. Sure, people voted and chose the cover, but SI’s team failed to make something out of it. They should have spent more time shouting out the people who voted, mention them, thank them for the votes on Twitter. THAT would have strengthened the relationship SI sought. Instead, SI was still the story, and not the voters. People will quickly see through that.
  • Where is the real engagement? True engagement is when both sides of the channel are highlighted. SI still thinks that it is better than the people who follow its accounts on Twitter and Facebook. Maybe if SI lightens up a bit and not feel so concerned about losing control, people would become even more loyal.

It is encouraging to see that McDonell has a Twitter account. But his profile on Twitter just has four tweets (although kudos for using an @ reply for one of those tweets, maybe there is hope?). And McDonell has only tweeted once this December, the month when he should have done more to prove that SI is becoming more social media savvy and friendlier. And before that, he tweeted once in October 2011, once in December 2010 and his first tweet was in October 2009. Knowing how smart the guys at SI are, I do believe they will understand that they must practice what they preach. I am rooting for you, Terry. Come dive into Twitter and enjoy it.

Trust me, I love SI. I think it is the best weekly magazine in the world. The writing is vastly superior and the photos are top-notch. However, if SI REALLY wants to dive deeply in the social media sphere, it should, for example, take the time to simply reply to people, their readers, the ones who buy their magazine every week (their current Twitter presence is the perfect example of how NOT to do it).

So maybe, if their editors are open to it, they should publish a Social Media edition of their magazine, where individuals who follow the brand choose and develop the brand for one week. Publish the tweets, shout out the opinions, and maybe even have some content creators publish some of their pieces. Now THAT would be cool. Let’s hope SI stops hiding behind the image of the BIG BRAND that thinks it is doing social media. It would actually be more fun for them and it would change the needle for them, especially in this age, where ANYONE can be a publisher now.

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