Does getting loud with social media work?

the challenge for advertisers and marketers is to stand out above the general internet noise and create what the industry calls a value proposition for their brands. In this, Facebook has emerged as a crucial platform for social interaction with 750 million users worldwide, as has Twitter with 250 million. But simply having a Twitter “hashtag”, which more easily identifies subjects being discussed, or “liking” something on Facebook are no longer enough.

“We are starting to move away from the mad arms race of [increasing] fans on Facebook,”

Timely article from the Guardian. There is a school of thought around social media marketing that basically calls for business and organisations to get online and then follow a strategy of what I call, “getting loud with social media”. Success will follow if you can overcome your fears of the medium – you just need to be on it for this to happen.

Today I’ve been browsing around looking at some major Australian brands and organisations that have an active presence on Facebook. Its pretty a disappointing picture to be honest.

For one well known consumer brand, a recent Facebook post attracted well over a hundred “Likes” and about 50 comments. Sounds like a great reaction? When you look at the actual comments, the largest categories were complaints (6%) and wants (14%). The brand itself was absent in the conversation, but at least some of their fans (3.4%) did at least bother to reply to questions and comments from other people. As a potential customer looking in, there is no evidence that the brand actually cares or is listening to feedback – a missed opportunity.

Another well known and family-friendly brand has a wall full of spam posts and in appropriate comments (e.g. mentioning alcohol) in breach of their own community rules, mixed in with genuine fans/customers. However, there is evidence at least of that brand engaging with people on customer service issues. That good work in customer service and the promotions on their page is being undone by poor community management and moderation.

In another example, a major industry association has attracted about 130 “likes” in about 6 months for their page. Sure, its not harming them but its not adding much value in its current form either.

Personally, in Australia at least, I see smaller consumer-orientated companies doing a much better job of engaging but with a smaller audience. Like Frisk Espresso, who I discovered in Perth recently. They only have about 1,500 fans but the engagement is better at that scale. Its important to recognise that their fan base is probably built on an excellent customer experience in the real world and through promotion at their shop front (that’s how I found them). Rather than faking it and expecting noise on social media to make their online engagement successful, they are working social media more smartly than many large (and well resourced) brands. And I’ll be back at Frisk when I’m next in Perth.

However, I’m prepared to be corrected. Have you got an Australian example where getting loud with social media (i.e. getting lots of followers or likes) has worked? Or maybe you’ve got a horror story of where this strategy has crashed and burned?