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Brands On Social Media: Where They Go Wrong

By Romain Vezirian, Account Supervisor,  MSLGROUP North America

Where did we go wrong: Should you stop trying to reach the masses on Social Media?

Successful companies always have a very clear vision of who their core audience is. They know their product well enough and have invested in enough studies to understand who their customers are.

Now, switch to social media. With the budgets invested by Fortune 500 companies on the rise, one would expect the same kind of logic would apply as the one described above: having a clear idea of who your key target is and then coming up with effective strategies to connect with them.

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Pic Courtesy: misspixels

One diluted, standardized message

However, a quick tour on most of Fortune 500’s official Facebook pages tells a different story. Whether you are looking at companies selling high-tech components or cleaning products, one thing remains the same: on social media, companies try to reach the masses, i.e. you, me, your kids, your parents and maybe even your parents’ parents. On social media, the word “niche” has become taboo, as if the growing popularity of the medium meant that brands and marketers HAD to reach everyone at once.

This could not be further from the truth. Trying to reach the masses can work for a few select “love brands” who have a wide appeal, but most of the other ones need to rethink who their core target is in order to build an efficient strategy. Too many brands fall into that trap only to see their message diluted by trying to reach too many different categories of people.

The ultimate dichotomy

The strength of social media has never been to have one message that needed to please everyone (let’s leave this to television) – quite the opposite. What is revolutionary about social media channels is that each member has his own personalized feed. Users do not want broad, generic content – they want news specifically tailored to meet their interests.

In order to be truly successful, brands need to answer this call and focus on the specific audience they are trying to attract.

Social media channels themselves understand this all to well and provide tools that allow brands and marketers to target their messages with great precision. Facebook gives the opportunity to reach users based on their location, interests, education, gender, connections… LinkedIn offers tools to targets professionals based on their past jobs and experiences. Twitter can give extra visibility to keywords or hashtags that can be seen by people interested in a key topic.

 

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On Facebook, you can target ads based on gender, location, interests, connections, etc.

Number of fans Vs. Higher engagement

So why would brands want to go this way? It really goes down to one thing: in order to boost their image, most companies would rather have an impressive number of fans or followers on their social media channels.

What most companies fail to realize is that by attracting a wide audience, you shoot yourself in the foot. What matters on social media is not how many fans you have (which is not that difficult to achieve when you are willing to spend a few thousand dollars on ads and/or sweepstakes) but how engaged they are.

By having a community with too many interests, it becomes almost impossible to connect with your fans. Brands are then left with Facebook pages relying on “like baiting”, Internet memes and cat jokes that every Facebook page seem to share nowadays, even if the posts have no connection with the brand’s values or products.

An old saying in the world of PR was “Keep It Simple, stupid”. Maybe digital consultants of the world should launch their own version in 2013: “Keep It Personalized, stupid!”

Either that, or brands should get ready to miss the opportunity to connect with their key targets on social media. You wouldn’t want that, would you?

 

 

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Romain is a prolific blogger and social media guru at MSLGROUP. Read more of his articles and follow him on Twitter.

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