Is Your Company A Good Illusionist?

The professional mourner is a historical occupation practiced in near Eastern cultures which started more than 2,000 years ago and is still practiced in some countries. It consists on families paying women to mourn at funerals. Prices vary if you want to include or not tears. Why pay them? These women provide social proof that the deceased was loved.

In Japan, you can hire spouses, best men, relatives, friends, colleagues, boyfriends and girlfriends for parties and public appearances…

How many brands and companies are taking tempting shortcuts to stuff their email database with thousands of irrelevant people, get more Twitter followers and/or increase by thousands their Facebook fans?

What all the examples above have in common is the key phrase “optical illusion” and that they only have impact on once-off events.

Let’s say you are working on developing a sustainable social media strategy to present to your CEO and one of the goals reads: Acquiring 10,000 Facebook fans…

What’s the purpose?

Every time I ask that question, very few professionals are able to answer it specifically. The majority would provide a general answer that consists on “increasing sales and revenue”.

The confusion

If we go back to the specific “goal” of 10K fans mentioned above, it would look like the idea is to increase reach (In your head: reach = traffic, visits, unique visits, impressions, clicks through, revenue). Yet, when I ask what the purpose in this case, the answer I’m given is about sales and not reach. Stay with me.


Does your company want 10,000 new Facebook fans or 10,000 net new customers acquired through Facebook and/or other platforms? Maybe, you’re simply looking at a target of just 200 more transactions for Q4.

The idea is to use social media as a platform to support your existing business objectives. Coming up with all these amount of followers and fans as main goal will:

  • Deviate you from your core company goals
  • Tempt you to go for shortcuts to inflate those fans/followers to justify your social media programme
  • Frustrate you: Building a community with people that don’t care about your brand and will never buy your products and services, will simply not improve anything at all.

The point is not to avoid fan targets. The point is to first respond to the main objectives and then work out secondary targets (like fan acquisition) from there.

Have you gone through any similar experience when working out your strategy? Please share your thoughts and experiences below :)

Comments ( 2 )
  • Shawn says:

    Hmmm. I think there’s another point here, Fred. The purpose of followers/fans/whatever is not just to buy your stuff but also…hopefully…to create referrals. So these huge numbers are doing you no good at allu00a0because, if they don’t exist or you paid for them, well, they’re not real friends, are they? Why would they tell anyone about you or share your page/pages? If the purpose of your friends is to create social validation for youru00a0brand and attract even more friends, than OK.u00a0But don’t loose sight of the fact that without real friends/real fans you have nou00a0customers and no referrals. What’s the point?u00a0u00a0u00a0

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi Shawn,nThanks for your comment.In the first paragraph I’m just making a point.u00a0Yes, I’m against huge numbers of followers that don’t care about your brand and I understand that big number of followers / fans are a silly social validation, filled with air because they will bring nothing in return (this is within the final three bullet points)If you’re mentioning the referrals because in my example I only contemplated 10,000 net new customers, I understand. It’s just an example to figure out a goal. In order to aim for 10K net new customer, your reach has to be at least ten times bigger. You will get a lot of referrals and ambassadors or agents “zero” as Chris Brogan calls them, that will not buy from you and that’s OK.u00a0

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