When did brands become our friends?

These days it seems that every other message i receive on Twitter or post i see on Facebook are friends “liking’ a brand, a local shop, or telling me where they are. Yes, i sometime ‘like’ a specific brand or share a link to a product/service with my twitter followers, partly for commercial reasons, but also because i think at least some of my friends or followers might find it interesting.

What brands and marketers need to keep in mind though is that there is a clear difference between ‘liking’ or talking positively about a brand through digital channels, and actually being influenced by those messages. How many of us can with hand on heart say that our actions online when it comes to ‘liking’ a brand or checking in at a place is not more about ‘branding’ ourselves?

As you can see from the below emarketer graph, most people ‘like’ or follow a brand online to get something out of it, usually in the form of a discount or freebie, and not necessarily to stay connected with the brand in a one-to-one dialogue.

Motivations for liking a brand online

As marketers we can learn a lot from monitoring online conversations about topics and brands, and get insight into how we can better communicate with our customers. There is no underestimating the value of high quality consumer data.  But we also need to keep in mind that there is a big difference between virtual consumption and actual consumption. Just because someone likes you it doesn’t mean that they will ever understand you or buy from you.

All the new digital channels of marketing and engaging with customers doesn’t change that to be successful you need to get the basics right. You need to know yourself and your customers. So when a client comes to you and say they want to develop a presence on social media or digital in general, the first thing that needs to be done is actually establish what the objective is and work with them to develop the right approach to achieving those objectives.

In the end shareholders don’t judge you by the quantity of friends/followers you have, but by their value.

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