People who use social media to connect to brands need real friends. As in, people friends.
Because only with actual people friends can a person have a conversation, and conversation is truly the most civilizing of inter-personal interactions.
In lieu of being able to change the current social dynamic in this country and connect all of those souls who have friended brands on Facebook, set brand logos as their IM icon or whose Tweets are like a corporate news RSS feed, I will bemoan it. There are people out there like that. But they are weird. And other people know that they are weird. Which makes them less trustworthy.
Think about it for a second (…thinking…). Who do you go to for an opinion when you are thinking about making a purchase in a category you are unfamiliar with? Family likely. A knowledgeable friend. Third-part expert sources.
You’re not checking Facebook to see if a brand you are considering has a lot of friends. Twitter neither.
Frankly, as much as traditional advertising cannot save a bad product, neither can social media or influencer outreach or brand advocate conversion efforts.
Because you can’t hide on the internet, and a bad product will kill you every time.
That is not to say that people who have had a good experience with your company, product, etc can’t help you – obviously they can. But they are reacting to a positive experience with the product, service, company, etc and therefore the primary way to create advocates is not to invest heavily in social media but to invest heavily in developing an effective and user-friendly product, service, company, etc.
That is not to say that outreach in social and other channels aren’t great ways to amplify what people who love you are saying. They are.
It’s just that you don’t have to do anything beyond create the product, service or company that people love. The rest takes care of itself, social media strategy or not.
Social media is just conversation in binary code. And like regular conversation among regular people, people don’t want a brand to help them along or get in the way. They will talk about it if it makes sense. But they will get annoyed if they find that a brand is trying to orchestrate the whole thing.
People don’t want to get sold, and certainly not under the disingenuous guise of ‘conversation.’
So let it happen naturally. The way to create advocates for your brand is to create an fucking awesome product or experience because, since you can’t hide on the internet, if you have nothing to hide that people will find out about it.