In his new book Unthinking: The Surprising Forces Behind What We Buy, marketing expert Henry Beckwith provides many compelling insights into the minds of consumers. His main contention is that, we routinely choose what to buy without even consciously thinking, driven primarily by three things: our childhood, our culture, and our eyes.
One point that Mr. Beckwith offers on social marketing particularly merits repeating:
“The solution isn’t Twittering, Facebooking, or any form of ‘engaging the customer’ that doesn’t enhance people’s experience. It’s creating what people love.”
Beckwith goes on to provide specific examples, like the Adidas micoach shoe, which makes the shoe more like a service – a coaching, training, and record-keeping service; or the Polyvore website, which lets visitors mix and match clothes and accessories from 20 different store websites and share their ensembles and thoughts with the six-million-and-growing Polyvore fashion community.
His point, however – that customer engagement should not be the ultimate goal of social marketing – is spot on. Awareness, attention, and engagement are all goodpoints of interest on the path to developing a loyal customer, but they are not the final destination. As marketers, we should be raising the bar by encouraging (and rewarding) specific behaviors. Measuring those behaviors would be a much more meaningful metric. FruitZoom CEO Pam Moore says it well: “It’s what happens after the Facebook like that matters. Does your new Facebook liker ever come back to visit your page? Or were they a one night, one time liker that you’ll never see again? As mentioned in #1, unless your audience is taking action you are unlikely to obtain a positive return on investment with social media.
Quality of audience and engagement matters. Yes, we want to have a large following, a page full of Facebook likers. However, I’d much rather have fewer likers and followers that are engaged, having a conversation with me, interested in my content and taking action that moves my business forward. A focus on followers and “likers” only will give you a false sense of success. As a result when it comes time to balance the books at month, quarter and year end you will realize those supposed friends didn’t do much for your brand.”