Facebook Stunts: Only Half The Battle. The Superficial Half.

Facebook is free media, great. Brands want to be there, they want fans and followers. Good, especially considering that Half of Social Media Users Connect With Brands.

But “how” to do this is the question Publicists, Digital Strategists, Marketers, and Advertisers have been asking themselves. And while no one tactic has been perfected, there is one guideline to follow when engaging (yes, I hate that word too, but unfortunately there are times when it’s appropriate and its use, unavoidable).

Longevity. Dedication. Commitment. Whatever you want to call it. Don’t just start a conversation, don’t just jump in when you feel like it. Don’t assume that your presence on a platform will automatically attract consumers. Initiating a relationship is only the first step. Rewarding the consumers who participate in that relationship; acknowledging those ‘loyals’ – fostering and growing that relationship, turning fans and followers into brand advocates – that’s where the greatest potential lies.

Having fans or followers is a great ego boost for a brand but it only OPENS the line of communication. What you do next, how you capitalize on that following, is what will make or break your social media initiative.

Take TGI Friday’s new “Fan Woody” Campaign. They want followers, for obvious reasons. So what do they do? They give something away. I mean, who doesn’t like free shit? I know I do, to the point where I’d friend Woody even though I’m not a particularly big fan of the brand (no pun intended there).

So yes, they’ll probably reach their goal of 500,000 fans by the end of September (not such a lofty goal for a nationally recognized brand, but I guess it pays to set the bar low).

But swag is easy. It’s the cheap way of getting followers. Effective? Duh. Would I advocate it, of course, it gets the job done. But it does nothing for the brand in the long term. The big question is, how will TGI Friday’s capitalize on this new audience? I don’t know about you, but I’m quite curious to see what their next move will be.

Stunts are great, but what comes next?

IMHO, effectiveness and distinctiveness in the social realm means catering, not just to our fondness of swag, but to our desire to create and produce. What do I mean?

Step one: Build a base – as exemplified by countless brands (chick-fil-a & others) give something away – get their attention.

Step two: Give this new audience the opportunity to contribute by offering them a vehicle or outlet for user-generated content. Whereas promotions say “we appreciate you because you give us money,” soliciting user-generated content – something like “Design an appetizer to be featured on our menu & we’ll have our fans vote for the favorite submission” – would say, “We value your input and creativity and we want you to help make our brand better.”

Ultimately, this is what consumers want. A free burger every now and then is cool but that won’t do shit for establishing a relationship with your existing or potential patrons. Consumers, especially young consumers, want input and control over your brand. A scary notion, but one that brands must accommodate if they want to appeal to the newest generation of consumers.
What do you think? What comes after “The Stunt?

(Thanks to Aaron Levy for helping inspire this post)

While You’re Here, Check Out These Other Interesting Posts/Articles:

Clear and Present Danger of Social Media for Ad Agencies

How Social Media Does Hostile Takeovers: Facebook vs. Twitter

Social Media / 10 Brands Doing it Right

Twitter expands rules to allow advertising

Twitter Gives Spam Apps a Thumbs Down, Ads a “Maybe”

Top 5 Web Trends of 2009: Internet of Things

Have a Great Weekend!

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Comments
  1. Aaron says:

    We discussed this a bit before and are in complete agreement. You get 500k fans. Super TGI Fridays. Good for you! High five!

    But now what? Social media shouldn’t be used as just another place to spout discounts. It’s far too powerful for that; brands like Fridays need to recognize this and use this audience to help their brand rather than their numbers.

    Personally, I advocate a “We put your nostalgic crap on the wall” contest 🙂

  2. The challenge that many agencies face is that much work is project based – clients will say “give us 500,000 followers on Twitter and 500,000 fans on Facebook” to launch something, but then once the project is over, the platforms and connections made fall into oblivion. This means that there is no incentive for the brand to sustain the relationships they are cultivating throughout the project period.

    Brands need to be aware that the ways that relationships are built and sustained online is changing, and that they need to be in it for the long haul. That may mean working with a PR agency for 12-24 months instead of 3 months or controlling social media in-house.

    Once a relationship is made, if it is then neglected, when the brand tries to re-ignite the relationship, the consumer won’t want to know. Brands must realise that the stunt works in the short term, but will not lead to long-lasting community relations.

  3. Deirdre says:

    Good post! I agree…you definitely need to know what comes next. Why should it be any different than the marketing strategy we’ve been doing for years. The one off strategies don’t usually get you very far (except on those occasions when you have a blogstorm on your hands). When you strategically thread the communication and all efforts lead to supporting your overall goals (whatever they may be) then you can see over time how the commitment, connections, and exposure pay off. And, it does take significant planning, time and commitment. Creative promotions are fun and my get attention at the time, but I think they need to be a part of a larger plan. I guess that’s the biggest question, what’s the plan? How are companies going to take these fun and exciting social media outreach efforts and tie them to a desired behavior. If you just want fans on an FB page, then a one off program is the way to go. But, if you are looking for the long term valuable relationship, then you have to learn to tie the moving parts together! Thanks for sharing your insight on “What comes next?”

  4. ShellyKramer says:

    David,

    Terrific article and great thoughts. I have clients clamoring for FB fans and Twitter followers, but they rarely want to (a) invest any real time or effort in getting them and (b)don’t want to be “bothered” messing with them after they’ve become a fan/follower. Duh – who loses in that equation!

    Thanks so much for sharing – you are spot on and I love it!

    Shelly

  5. emilycagle says:

    Great post – I’m completely with you on this one.

    It occurs to me that the biggest challenge is that while the promotion that opens the lines of communication is straightforwardly just that, a promotion, the communication that follows is much more difficult to maintain effectively because it asks for a much greater degree of trust in the brand.

    Do I mind that Brand X is giving me a burger so that I’ll follow them? Not at all. Do I mind if they say they value my input just because they want me to buy more burgers? Well I might.

    Engaging is tough enough, but engaging like you mean it? Only the few and the best are coming close to achieving this.

  6. Lloyd Gofton says:

    Nice post David

    I think you’ve made a really important point, but first a word about the numbers game. This advertising-focused approach to building numbers or followers – Quantity over quality – is not helpful or relevant. Getting people there isn’t even half of the battle, getting relevant people there that understand the conversation and are willing/open to engaging, that should be the focus. Would I rather have 200,000 non-relevant followers or 50,000 relevant followers? Give me relevancy every time.

    Matt makes a great point in his comment too, brands have to look at social media as a long term investment/goal/relationship. The ‘build it and they will come approach doesn’t work’, but if it did you need to have a plan to keep them engaged and offer something useful in return for their attention or they’ll disappear as quickly as they arrived.

    Too many brand focus on just getting them there, and then forget that’s when the work really begins.

  7. Sasha says:

    ” It’s the cheap way of getting followers. Effective? Duh.” You said it.

    I just saw this commerical on television for the firs time TODAY. I’m 50-50 on it. I mean it’s one of those things I suppose. But at the end of the day if the goal is to get your message out, and to build a brand — that’s half the battle, it’s step one.

    Keeping those people loyal and “around” — well, now that’s step two. So much of everything is relative.

    Very interesting post, I think it’s one of those things where only time will truly tell, how successful a tactic is, versus, how much it is not.

    Excellent work, David 🙂

  8. Colin says:

    great points! i agree that the consumer has a lot of power in relationships now and i think that it is overall a good thing. scary? you bet, but it needs to be embraced in order for most to be successful, especially in many forms of social media. but i would ask this…at what point does the business push back? where is the line drawn over who has how much control? giving too much and then trying to take it back could be fatal for some brands while others could get away with it. where that line is drawn will obviously depend on the particular industry a business is in as well as other factors…but it is something i’m afraid far too many companies don’t put enough thought into before engaging in “the stunt”

  9. Theresa Beffa says:

    Lot of good points all around, but it seems a little early in the game to know if this is large fumble or touchdown. Here’s my take..

    I’m with Diedre, strategy/planning are key, and having that aligned with Corp objective’s and long term goals. As we don’t know those yet, it’s hard to say. Is this part of a re-branding strategy? Are they trying to cut into the Fast food Marketshare? I mean, why the Jack Daniels Burger, that’s not a new offering. Why not a free appetizer? Is the goal to get traffic,awareness, build a base, get new customers in the door, or bring back old ones?

    As for the conversation, engagement, and relationship building. Easy, that’s not happening at all from a brand p.o.v. They’re currently only broadcasting, there is no sign of actual “dialogue” happening between TGIF/Woody and consumers on FB. Only consumer 2 consumer. Even the discussions are mostly “I can’t register,help”

    To Matt’s point on agency vs client,budgets,fans. It’s not easy, but you need to drive home the “methodical” approach over the “campaign” approach. 1 night stands, or 3 month courtships are common place w many brands, so you’ll need to have a CRM plan to bring them to the next date or party,whenever or where ever that might be. Have budget set aside for adjusting/adapting, adding new content,and leveraging it when it’s necessary and across whatever channel is relevant. God forbid a new game changing platform, were to go live or mainstream mid-way into your campaign. You’re screwed.( I know this is difficult, I’ve been in that boat.)

    And the Platform might be free, but the time, management,and resources are the true costs, however you choose to look at it.

    Lastly, to your UGC mantra David: totally agree, could be great solution, but again, it depends on overall goal. Is there added value? Then go for it! Great example of what you suggested is being played out by @Vitaminwater on FB. Consumers are part of picking a new flavor, but also have an opp to design a label that could get put into production ( ala Threadless style ) that’s bad ass!

    So,what’s next… Hopefully they are listening, and already have a plan, or they adjust it according to what data they get now. Only time will tell! Thx 4 bringing the noise/place to discuss it 😉

    Cheers,
    Theresa
    @Tbeffs

    • Aerocles says:

      One Word. Brilliant! I Couldn’t agree more, Theresa. I Think you really summed it up well and pointed out all the important aspects we really need to look at. At first glance, my main critique, even if they do have a UGC or some time of long term engagement plan, is that this IS a 1-way, or broadcast,conversation, as you said, & that is seems to be completely incongruous with whatever philosophy the TGI Friday’s Brand allegedly represents. But to that point, I think that’s merely representative of a deeper issue, namely the overall lack of any distinctive or defining message or top-down branding.

  10. What really struck me was your final paragraph. I feel as though one of the big messages to companies and brands looking to get into social media is that they need to be willing to give up control. I think that after all is said and done, even if you have the coolest social media stunt ever, if you aren’t willing to give up that control it won’t be worth it in the long run. So I guess what I’m saying is that the next step after the stunt is giving up control in some way. Whether that be discussion or allowing for creative input, that should be something decided on a case by case basis.

    I know that sounds so general, but I think you’re very right that these brands do themselves no good by pulling off a large stunt and leaving it at that. It would never work if that was all they did in traditional communications plans, so why should social media be any different?

  11. […] Social Media Marketing: What Comes After “The Stunt?” by David Teicher — If you’re active on social networks and other social media sites, […]

  12. marketing veep says:

    The best line in your article is “Don’t just start a conversation, don’t just jump in when you feel like it.”

    You’ve just hit on SM’s power transparency. It is social media’s biggest opportunity and biggest risk. Why? Because transparency reveals a company’s true nature. The way in which a firm launches and maintains any social media program will either reveal its gross operational inadequacies or reinforce its genuine desire to build customer loyalty.

    I’ll go out on a limb and and say that consumers’ new ability to “see behind the curtain” is more threatening than the so-called loss of brand control. Now we can see if a company dove into SM without a plan. We can tell if their CEO or COO or founder isn’t tweeting or blogging or any of the things he promised he’d do. Social Media is the ultimate seal of freshness on a company’s direct communication with its audience.

    Consumers want to control their experience and certainly want a new experience. If you think about it, the mere act of engaging (yes, I said it) with customers is the ultimate new experience. Social media means you are always on , because it’s all about having the conversation when the customer feels like it.

  13. Katbron says:

    Great thoughts and good advice. I attended a local marketing seminar recently and was shocked when the person speaking offered advice to local marketers – “You should get on Twitter and Facebook – you really can do it as much or as little as you want.” Nothing about engagement, conversation or response. Ugh. I agree with Marketing Veep – we’ve had clients express interest but have advised them to hold off until they can commit the resources to “do it right.”

  14. […] Social Media Marketing: What Comes After “The Stunt?” by David Teicher — If you’re active on social networks and other social media sites, […]

  15. […] Twitter, @Aerocles, wrote a blog post the other day that I thought was really good. He focused on social media stunts and what’s next after a company pulls a stunt to get noticed. It’s really important to know […]

  16. Ben says:

    MediaCurves.com conducted a study on 252 viewers of a recent T.G.I. Friday’s ad which promotes its new Facebook campaign. The results found that that the majority believe the promotion will increase favorability for the T.G.I. Friday’s brand. After watching the ad, 71% of Facebook users indicated that they would become a “fan” of Friday’s Facebook spokesman, “Woody” to receive the promotional offer of a free Jack Daniel’s hamburger. More in depth results can be seen at:
    http://www.mediacurves.com/Advertising/J7568-TGI/Index.cfm
    Thanks,
    Ben

  17. […] Woody’s representatives have been active.) However, the campaign has been criticized by some marketing blogs as being too artificial. Other restaurants, like Chik-fil-A, have also offered free food, and […]

  18. […] Woody’s representatives have been active.) However, the campaign has been criticized by some marketing blogs as being too artificial. Other restaurants, like Chik-fil-A, have also offered free food, and […]

  19. […] in point, Fan Woody. I’ve spoken out against this campaign before, so I won’t go into detail here, except as it illustrates my point and typifies an industry-wide […]

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