People Don't Want Brands: People Want Friends

Heads up! This post was written when Metric Marketing was known as Canada's Web Shop.

A common thread that I see in research related to corporate use of social media is that consumers are not interested in interacting with brands on Social Media. Different statistics point to the number of brands the average user Likes on Facebook, the people's feelings towards promotions on social media, and that no one really cares about brands on Google+.

I understand that as someone that works with social media for a living, I may be slightly biased in my opinion on the matter. However, in order to negate that bias, I'm going to agree that people don't want brands on Facebook. However, that doesn't mean that your company shouldn't be on social media. Confused? Read on:

The Majority of Us Are Still Doing it Wrong

I'm not just saying this because I hope that everyone engages Canada's Web Shop to work on social media; it's the truth. Despite the fact that more and more businesses are understanding every day that social media are about two-way conversations, the vast majority of businesses are still over-thinking (or under-thinking) social media and treating it like a free media buy. The fact is that, more so than any medium before it, social media begs the question of brands, "why should your consumers care?" Your potential customers and clients aren't interested in your press releases; they're interested in your story. Why are you passionate about what you do? What do you love about your products and services? What do your current customers and clients love about them?

People That Say "This Advertising Isn't Working On Me" Are Actually Right Now

For those Mad Men addicts out there, you'll remember a scene in the first season where Peggy is having dinner with a well-intentioned 'country-bumpkin' type fellow that tells her that advertising doesn't work on him, to which she replies that by saying that, he is admitting that advertising works on him, since the brand is on his mind. That was "1960"; this is 52 years later.

Social Media is a completely new ballgame. Whereas advertising was mostly about tricks and occasionally about making a point where it was most clever, social media is about engaging your target audience in a completely honest and up-front manner. This is your organization, your culture, your "personality" as a company completely out in the open; people now have the option not only to ignore you, but even to take damage your reputation on this level playing-field.

In the End, People Want Friends, Not Brands

So, what is the best way to avoid ending up as a social media statistic and capitalize on the opportunities present in social media? It is to realize this simple point; people want friends, not brands. People are afraid of the word "brand"; as well intentioned as it is to marketing and communcations people, to consumers, it often means big corporations, advertising, and manipulation. Don't approach your Facebook Page as an opportunity to showcase your brand, approach it as an opportunity for your customers and potential customers to engage with your company's "personality". Be honest about what that personality is, and choose your social media appropriately.

An excellent example of a company that has taken this approach very successfully recently was Dominoes Pizza. Admittedly using major advertising buys to announce their new take on honestly portraying their organization's personality, they have subsequently continued to build on their traits of being honest, quality focused, and even remorseful in the case of their past crimes against pizza. Emphasizing these traits, especially within interactive spaces on social media, has given the company the personality of a friend that anyone would want to have. And people are talking.


So! Don't pay attention to the hype, social media is more than likely the right place for your organization. And if you're not sure how to get started, I'm more than happy to give you some ideas.

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