Recently, Burger King Norway purged its Facebook fanbase. They reduced it from 38,000 fans to 8,000...on purpose. Their stated goal was to encourage fickle deal-hunters to exit their addressable fanbase leaving those who really cared and preferred Burger King (over McDonalds).
For a quick service restaurant (QSR) or a fast moving consumer goods company (FMCG) this is a radical move. Brand loyalty isn’t what it used to be and many of us are happy enough to ask for Pepsi as Coke. Can a Burger King fan also be a McDonald’s fan? Chances are there is quite a bit of overlap. Still, the move to be more intentional about who is in your Facebook fanbase and your Twitter follower-base is right minded.
The Pendulum Swings
In 2012 and 2013, many brands chased large fan and follower counts in social media. After all, a big addressable audience is good, right? More possibilities for people to share content via their social graph. Brands who made fan acquisition their number one key performance indicator (KPI) were likely not all that discriminate about who was there. They used paid media to augment organic growth. Some energy was applied to refining their “buys’ to drive down fan acquisition costs because that just made common sense.
Now many marketers are letting go of sheer numbers of fans or followers in favor of achieving high engagement numbers – shares, comments, retweets, @replies and yes, even, content “likes”.
If we value engagement as a barometer not just for how relevant our content is but also an indicator of actual preference for our brand, then catering to those who will be most involved with our content and brand makes sense. Would you rather have 1m fans who rarely engage or 100K who comment, share or retweet a few times a week?
“Media Bistro reported that 60 percent of marketing agencies feel engagement is “the deepest level at which they could track return on investment from their social campaign,” according to a 2012 study. But as social marketers are realizing more and more, not all engagement is created equal. Spam and cheap like-baiting tactics (Like this post if you enjoy sunshine!) don’t actually move the needle. In that light, trolls can absolutely destroy a brand’s ability to generate meaningful engagement. What do you think?”
So, as the pendulum swings, we need to find that productive spot in between the arc. We do want sizable addressable audiences. Big fanbases of the right fans are valuable as they are the pool of folks who have the potential to be engaged in the first place. Defining who the “right fans” are rather than just seeing who shows up as you publish out coupons or Happy New Years’ messages is the next ‘job-to-be-done.’
For a mass brand like Coke, there probably aren’t too many wrong fans to have. But for other brands like financial services brands, automobile manufacturers, and airlines, who is in that addressable audience matters.
Nate Smitha from Simplymeasured reminds us to build relevant personas,
“Confirm that social age and gender demographics match your target audience. If you’re a B2C brand, use sales data to investigate which products your social audience is likely to be interested in.
Once you have established a baseline, go beyond fan demographics by establishing buyer personas that map to certain products or content topics. Measure engagement performance with content that maps back to personas, as part of your regular audience analysis.”
For a service brand selling to consumers, it would make sense to build personas for the customer base, for the dealer community (if you sell through dealers or some other intermediary), for influencers (these can be folks who influence the purchase decision in some way or another), and employees. How big should your fanbase be? Facebook would have you think about your market share in a particular market and aspire to a fanbase that matches. That clearly leads to a big base and one that inevitably requires Facebook advertising to achieve. Another way is to benchmark yourself against three competitors and one “ideal brand” (this could be a brand outside your category whom you think is doing a particularly good job). You then establish goals that are ambitious yet attainable at some reasonable level of investment.
Defining who you want to intentionally build a sustained and profitable relationship with isn’t as easy as it sounds. Keeping an eye on the complexion of that fan/follower base takes extra effort.
Companies like Fanbridge, FollowerWonk and Xeerpa are developing practical ways to segment or group fan bases to make it easy to send specific messages to meaningful groups. This is the next logical step towards the ultimate destination of social CRM where we can address all of our customers and prospects individually.
By deciding who we want to follow us, how we can deliver the most valuable content and experience to them, we can head down the path towards building highly engaged fanbases of the right fans not just those who liked us for a free burger.
(Thanks to Chrysalis for the image)