Facebook Campaigns Create “Likes,” but Not Loyalty

I missed the Bacardi Rum “Like it Live, Like it Together” concert in New York. Awwww….

The concert featured big-name performers such as Kid Cudi and Aloe Blacc. Well, okay, your response to that information is either, “Yeah, you really missed out,” or, “Huh? Who?”

The loyalty-for-sale that typifies social media either grabs you or repels you. So your answer qualifies you to be on one side or the other of what is becoming “The Facebook Split.” Some marketers are centering their campaigns on Facebook — and that move intensifies the gap between the Under-40s and the Over-40s.

As Facebook crosses the incredible 750 million-member-line, without question or argument it has become a major force in marketing. But — as is true of any medium, major or minor — tailoring a message to inclusions automatically generates exclusions.

The social media paradox

Look back to an ancient year — 2006 will be ample — and you’d see social media as a novelty. Make that a specialized novelty. Here we are, as 2011 wastes away, and Groupon, not even a gleam in a marketer’s eye in 2007, has joined the giants.

Groupon, though, isn’t parallel with Facebook or YouTube except for our placing it in the social media category. A gender gap doesn’t exist, except perhaps for an individual item that appears for a single day, to give way to another single item that might appeal to a totally different ethnic, economic or age interest group.

Major marketers — and I mean major marketers — are offering premiums or freebies in exchange for Facebook “likes.” Is that smart marketing? Or, more to the point, is that effective marketing?

From a copy point of view, it couldn’t be easier. All I have to do is “like” Colgate toothpaste and I get a discount or a free tube. (I could clip a Valassis coupon for a discount or a free tube, but that’s old-fashioned, isn’t it?)

I’m looking at “Shop at Home.” It isn’t much of a copywriting challenge: “Click ‘LIKE’ for free stuff, savings & giveaways!” Oh, sure, there’s that ugly word “Submit,” but we’re used to that.

We’re also used to a too-complete menu asking who we are and what our various vitals are, after we click. Oh, well, that’s the latter-day online curse, and social media didn’t invent it.

The Facebook chimera is capable of delivering a multitude of clicks that don’t eventuate into business. How do we explain the more-than-occasional disconnect?

One explanation will have heads nodding “Yes” or shaking violently “No.” As is true of any breakthrough, novelty or gimmick, Facebook and Twitter have generated a corps of fanatics who enter the arena with the preconceived notion that their idol can do no wrong.

That attitude doesn’t match a recent report by two researchers, the American Customer Satisfaction Index and Foresee Results: Overall Facebook satisfaction was the lowest of all social media, rating 66. (Google scored 83.)

In an oblique way, copy can be a factor. The copywriter is locked into a “Like us and…” promise, and the promise itself says to the prospect, “We’re going to give you something for nothing or next to nothing.”

That’s the formula. A straight offer doesn’t fit for either participant.

Trapped by two-step conversions?

Analysis, either by an apologist or an antagonist, is easy.

Apologistic offense/defense favoring all social media: The cost-per-click is low, and it’s up to the offer to justify the click.

Antagonistic offense-defense against all social media: Implicitly, an offer is a two-step conversion. A space ad says, “‘Like’ us on Facebook and…” — so we have to go to Facebook. A direct appeal on Facebook invariably intrudes into the middle of a message and demands or pleads for a more personal response.

Okay, okay, let’s reconnoiter and decide against being either overly pro or overly con. As copywriters, as marketers, as analysts, we have a driving force that determines our destiny: Maximizing response.

And response isn’t the number of clicks. It’s the number of qualified clicks. We should have long since outgrown the infantile notion of measuring success by the wrong yardstick.

All right, then. If matching the message to the medium doesn’t work, and the message is sound, we know the solution: Try another medium.

One more point, and it’s the most significant of anything I can say in this column this month:

The word “media” is plural. The singular is “medium.” If you’ve been excreting verbiage such as “The media is,” stop. Immediately. Or maybe sooner.

You’re welcome.

Herschell Gordon Lewis is the principal of Lewis Enterprises (www.herschellgordonlewis.com) in Pompano Beach, FL.