Friday, 1 July 2011

Musings on Social Media

Article first published as Liking Facebook on Technorati.

When Facebook changed the 'Fan' button to the 'Like' button, I for one was not pleased. 'Like' always seemed far too tepid a word. Inadequate to express one's feelings about the film, book, play, actor or activity that the Facebook page represented.

Now we have a different situation. Social Media Marketing has exploded. Advertising revenue in the traditional places, TV, news media, radio has declined year on year as viewers, readers and listeners get wise to the ways to avoid it. Peer review is deemed more trustworthy. After all if you cannot trust your friends, who can you trust?

Suddenly it seems as though everyone has a page to promote and you feel overwhelmed with the sheer volume of things to 'like'. Having dutifully clicked the like button you add that to your growing list of things you 'like'.

So what happens next? In reality, how many of those 'like' pages do you ever visit again?

Being a fan of something implies that you enjoy doing, watching or reading this something over and over again. "Like" infers a more tenuous attraction. Now we have so many pages to 'like' isn't it time that Facebook finds some way to differentiate between the things you have a passing fancy for and those things that are your favourites?

As social media grows, it would be helpful if you could refine your interests, likes and dislikes, especially for marketing. Finding like minded people is an inexact science at best, but it need not be. The current situation provides the opportunity for the truly energetic to carpet bomb the internet in their quest for sales and self-promotion; whilst the less forward and those with less time at their disposal disappear in the incoming tide.

So you turn your facebook on in the morning and what do you find? Usually at least one request from a friend to 'Like' something, so you dutifully click the like button and so it goes on. Or does it? Are we now all suffering from a degree of 'like' fatigue? I know that in the last couple of months I have been faced with many pages to like. I also know that whereas I would have liked every page sent my way six months ago, now I have become more selective. Not because I don't like things, but because I don't like them enough to add them to a list and dilute my interest in other things.

If there were options to like or be a fan of something, there would be a lot of things in my like list which I would dip into occasionally, perhaps once a week; but there would be very few things in my 'fan' list which I would check almost daily.

On the other side of the fence, I would be able to detect levels of interest in the things I have created a page for. There is an argument that the ground level point of sustainability for any artist, film-maker, author is one thousand true fans. One thousand true fans are the people who are going to buy your newest work because they like your 'brand', they are going to drive two hundred miles to go to your next concert, signing, viewing or screening, they will interact with you and they will tell the world how good your work is. They are your ambassadors.

To achieve that level of engagement with your fans, the way forward is clearly social media. In the modern idiom of 'celebrity', accessibility is key, and communicating directly with the people who enjoy your work is the most effective way to gather in your magic number.

To keep social media fresh and exciting, giving the people more control over what they like or are a fan of, makes a great deal of sense to me.

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