You’ve built it, but why should we come?

Ok, here are a few questions I’ve been dying to ask my friends:

  1. Of all the brands you follow on Twitter, how many have you recommended to family or friends?
  2. When was the last time you entered to win something on Facebook AND shared it with friends?
  3. Do you use a “junk mail” email address to sign up for news/offers/etc.?
  4. Think of your top 3 favorite YouTube videos. Were they product pitches? If so, did you buy?

Nowadays, every brand wants us to “like” it on Facebook, follow it on Twitter, watch it on YouTube, subscribe to its stuff, download its app, and join its “community,” and blah blah blah. It’s enough to make Susan Powter scream. Seriously, how many different ways do YOU want or need to hear from a company?

Here’s the thing, dear brands: When the voice in the corn field whispered “if you build it, he (they) will come,” it definitely wasn’t talking about all your social presence on multiple networks. We only “like,” follow, subscribe or download when there’s something in it for us. Your customers, not the C-suite, are the most demanding people when it comes to ROI: is your company and its wares worth our time and/or money? If your company doesn’t offer anything unique and compelling, isn’t helpful, or doesn’t provide easy access to whatever we want, we either won’t come or won’t stay. It’s that simple.

What if, instead of chasing after the next shiny social media object, you spent that time approaching us at our favorite hangout, both online and offline, and talked with us? What if, instead of trying to create the next “viral” thing (eww), you asked what we want or need, and actually made it happen?

True, I work in the social media field, and I’m familiar with many tactics brands employ to spread its messages online. But more importantly, I’m a wife, a mom, a woman with disposable income, make household purchasing decisions, tech gadget friendly, and active on social networks. I get pitched and marketed to all day long, too. I see and understand both sides, and not surprisingly, the side of real life wins every time. I’m thankful because the combination of my two points of view helps me make better recommendations and decisions for my clients. So, dear brands, whatever you choose to do with this social media thing, if it’s not relevant to your customers’ lives, it won’t last, and certainly won’t help your bottom line.

P.S. Have you read Brains on Fire (the book)? I’m a fan, and would recommend it to you. And no, this is not an affiliate link.

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  1. Posted May 10, 2011 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing this. It’s interesting to read, because, I know you’re in the Social Media industry and I also know you as a person. Sounds like most companies need to start asking the customer what they want and they making sure they are building/creating a solution that actually meets a need. It’s also interesting to me to read about companies that create a solution to a problem that we never knew we had.

    1) Brand on Twitter that I follow and recommend to friends/family… uh probably half a dozen. I do read a lot from what people share.

    2) Entered to win on FB and shared with a friend, uh zero.

    3) No, not anymore. However I unsubscribe from overly spammy websites very quickly.

    4) No, I haven’t purchased anything after watching a product pitch YouTube video.

    I’m apparently not a very good demographic for your questions!

    • Veronica
      Posted May 10, 2011 at 5:45 am | Permalink

      Hi Pete! Among all the wonderful and smart people around me, you’re one of the best examples of creating business solutions and contributing to the relevant community at the same time. Nothing I said in this post was news to you, because you walk the talk everyday. Thanks for answering my little survey!

  2. Posted May 10, 2011 at 12:58 am | Permalink


    1. Zero

    2. Non-Client Related? Never.

    3. Yes. I use an old throwaway Yahoo address I haven’t checked in a year. Or, and old hotmail address I haven’t check in 3 years.

    4. No Products, so No.

    Great post V – and good too see folks you involved in the field that lots compare to ‘Internet Popularity Witchcraft’. OK, no one compares it to that but me, but you get my point!

    Cheers, D

  3. Posted May 10, 2011 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    Whoops, kind of misread #2, except the answer is sort of the same – I have never gained affinity for a brand DUE specifically to Twitter. I recommend stuff to my network all the time, but I only follow them as a result of my usage – make sense?

    • Veronica
      Posted May 10, 2011 at 6:10 am | Permalink

      Hi Darren! Yes, I work in the industry, but I’m also a consumer who has money to spend but no time to waste. :)

      I agree with you re: brands on Twitter. I seldom follow, even if I’m a customer and would recommend them. I buy and use products without issue in my everyday life, but don’t need to hear from them on a regular basis.

  4. Posted May 10, 2011 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    I have to admit I got on twitter and Facebook for the social media, but didn’t really start using them until I started to promote my pizza shop, which has since closed. For that I used a combination of offers and social comments / interest.

    1) I follow about half a dozen brands and so far no recommendations

    2) I don’t enter Facebook contests and rarely use Facebook

    3) always, I used old yahoo junk mail address even for here

    4) I never watch ad content on YouTube

    But then I may not fit the demographic of the typical social media user. I I’m mi early 60s, but have been involved in online social media since the advent of online BBS in the mid 1980s


    • Veronica
      Posted May 10, 2011 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      Hi Bob! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and leaving such a thoughtful comment. Sounds like you’re actually an early adopter of online communities! You may not think you’re the “typical” social media user, but you have life and business experiences that add weight to your opinions, which may actually make you a much more effective “influencer” among your circle of family, friends and associates. Word of mouth is the best advertising, and I bet you’re viewed as a trusted source by many, whether you use Facebook/Twitter or not.

  5. Posted October 5, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    In answer to your 4 questions;
    1. I don’t follow brands on Twitter. I only follow the person I like to follow.
    2. A few hours ago, I decided to enter a contest on an author Facebook fanpage. I don’t usually do this but she offered a laptop as the prize. So, why not?
    3. Yes, if I have to sign up, I will use my junk mail which I will never check.
    4. Nope, I only watch funny stufs on Youtube.

    Basically, I don’t see these kind of marketing steps will work on me. However, I don’t think they will totally fail, you just need to get the right person to market for you.

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