Transparency, authenticity and two-way communication are terms thrown around frequently in the social media world, and for good reason. The brands that are frequently highlighted on Mashable and other similar social media news sites are the brands that take the time to understand their audience and provide them something they want – something useful that helps the individual relate to and rely on the brand.
That approach creates “brand advocates,” “enthusiasts,” “loyalists,” “champions” and all of those other terms we use to talk about the Holy Grail of customers. It’s the extremely tangible “upside” to social media – bringing the brand to life and creating life-long advocates.
The downside to social media marketing is when brands try to game the system. It’s when statistics and metrics become more important than the actual connection with an individual. Case in point: The New York Attorney General just cracked down on 19 firms responsible for a variety of bogus reviews on social networks. Essentially, the firms were hiring individuals to post fake reviews (known as “astroturfing”) on sites like Yelp, Google Maps and CitySearch. GFM’s Matt Stone recently highlighted a local company that was busted for doing the same last month.
Most of us understand the ethical implications of posting fake reviews, but I’d take it a few steps further. If you’re focusing solely on social media statistics or broadcasting your message louder than the competition, you’re missing out on the greatest benefit of social networks – connecting with actual people.
Jim Licko is a senior director of social media and digital strategy at GroundFloor Media and prefers to be treated like an individual rather than a statistic.