Your Customers Don’t Want to be Your Friend

November 10th, 2009

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If you’re Apple, Nike, or anything made with bacon, stop reading now.

If not, read on and recognize that your customers are probably not desperately trying to connect with your brand in social media.

As marketers, we’re trained to “see” brands and how they compete for our attention. Like a gold digger with a nose for AMEX, we’re disproportionately aware of opportunities and circumstances that could be used to create a communications advantage.

Your customers are not. They aren’t marketers, and typically they don’t spend time thinking about how they can advocate on behalf of your company.

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Your customers don’t innately want to follow your company or Twitter or friend you on Facebook, or read your blog, or watch your videos. There’s mountains of great content online unencumbered by a corporate dynamic. Thus, embracing your company and it’s content is not a high priority.

Your job as a modern marketer then is not to “target” or “communicate” or even “persuade.” Your job is to create rationales.

Answer the Question of Why?

Why would a customer want to connect with your company online? What’s the benefit? How does doing so provide value, or helpfulness, or enjoyment? You must make the case to the customer that by NOT connecting with you, they are missing out on something of value. And you have to deliver on that promise.

Socially-enabled marketing finally fulfills the promise that the Web itself once trumpeted. It truly is the great equalizer. Succeeding in social media isn’t about company size, or company type, or company history, or resources, or geography.

But it is about rationale. The companies that can create a compelling reason for their customers to connect will succeed on the social Web. And those that don’t put the necessary emphasis on helpfulness and relevancy will fail.

If Your Mom Isn’t Stoked, Your Customers Certainly Won’t Be

Do this. The next time you have some sort of social media idea – a lure or a hook that you believe will get your customers excited and friending you like mad on Facebook, take a step back. Call your Mom (or anyone else that believes in you disproportionately). Ask her to rate on a scale of 1-10 how excited your whiz bang idea makes her. If it’s less than 8, try again. You’ve failed the rationale test.

I’m still working through this idea of clearly demonstrating to customers WHY connecting with your brand is important. What do you think?

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