I Need Proof.
There’s a lot of confusion in the brand race to be “social” today. Brands have made many attempts at trying to be really conversational with consumers, but often times it’s a #fail. From what I’ve seen, being a social brand is very similar today to what was a few years ago - transforming consumers into brand advocates and giving people a reason to care. The main difference is that today, this gigantic global network called the Internet makes “social” fast, real-time and either supportive or a hindrance (depending on which brand/vertical you ask).
It’s about social proof NOT social media.
Who cares about the platform - Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Zenga…those are just means to an end. Eyeball aggregators that bring together consumers, in media fragmented world, to connect with each other based on shared interests.
The real (and arguably) most imporant role of brands when it comes to social engagement is enabling consumers to share their passions (often related to or supported by branded products and services).
The first (most popular) indication of social proof today is the Facebook “like” button. How many people “like” my brand?
But let’s get serious. The “like” is just an indicator of a very simple and easy consumer action taken. Keyword here is INDICATOR. It’s not the end all be all, but it can matter.
Questions I’d ask if it were my Brand Page on Facebook: why do people like my page? What do they do after they “like” me? Why don’t people “like” me? Who are the people that do and don’t “like” me?
“Like” - it’s gives people a sense of social proof. But what about the proof that we all need every day to make public decisions go well beyond the like as well?
I generally consider engaging with a person, product, service, organization, etc based on what they are saying (the content they are delivering) and how it relates to me. I also (often) want to see what others have to say (the social proof). If these things connect with me, I’d “like” it (or take whatever action is needed to proclaim my support - a hug, a thumbs up, a 4-star rating, etc.).
So the “like” is an after-thought. It’s not the starting point (at least for me).
Social proof gives people a reason to care. Social media is just a way to learn about it.