It’s not a Like, if you didn’t earn it
It’s the “Backstreet Boys” marketing approach. You’ve likely heard how that works – if you tell people something is “the new craze that’s sweeping the nation”, they’ll believe it. You see evidence of that in social media every day, but it looks like something else. It looks like …Likes. “Wow, this page has 12,319 fans. Must be awesome.” Sure, but what if it’s not? What if you don’t even know what awesome is, anymore? That’s the social marketing conundrum, not just for consumers, but for brands as well.
What would happen if marketers had to convince you something was worth Like-ing before you could actually hit the button? You had to actually try their food first, or drive that car or wear those jeans. What if in order to share that post with friends on your timeline, you had to have actually experienced the brand? What if as brands and marketers, we could interact with people online and have direct access to potential customers with our products in hand? Well, until you can give someone a muffin, a t-shirt or a new pair of shoes over the internet, not likely to happen. So, what’s the value of a Like? What’s the value of 124,357 Likes? Or 1,234,529? The answer depends on how genuine the Likes are. On social media, people can smell a SPAM a mile away. And, once you have the stink of SPAM’er on your clothes, you can’t wash it off.
As an industry, communication is our product. As a graphic designer, art director, copywriter, whatever, our work is constantly evaluated against the genuine message. Authenticity is important. Your client pays you for a service and you create the materials they need, and while doing so, you have a trust relationship that what you’re communicating is right. Have you ever done an ad for a packaged food product that says, “Tastes like home-made!”, but you’ve tried it, and it doesn’t? How did you feel? I bet some part of you cared enough that you felt a little badly. It feels weird to sell someone “snake oil”, as my former CD used to say. Sometimes you drink the koolaid because it pays the rent, but every so often, it haunts you. That’s because it’s not genuine, and you don’t want to be thought of as a “snake oil salesman”.
Likes are often genuine. Products are good. Services are good. People are Like-able. These are valuable credentials in an internet-world. As of today, July 25, 2013, there are an indexed 4.09 billion (with a “b”) webpages. They represent everything from “I Can Haz Cheezberger?” to “Save The World!” and everything (literally) in between. In your life, how many sites can you consume? It used to take real effort to create something for public consumption, like a TV program, a movie, a TV or magazine ad. Now, a working knowledge of the average text editor can allow anyone to say anything to everyone. So, who’s credible? Who’s the real deal? Where do you find the right information, or even the right question to ask?
So, as creators of persuasive media, we have a responsibility to authenticity and genuinely true communications. Not just for our clients, but for our friends and ourselves. Before you hit “Like” on that post, stop and think – did they really earn your support yet? If they did, click away.