Counting “Fans” And “Followers” Is The HFCS Of Social Engagement

Earlier this month, the NYTimes took a deeper dive into the idea of “good attention vs. bad attention.” I wanted to keep the ball rolling on this idea, as it’s fundamental to thinking about social engagement with (and as) customers.

Although many of us are working in or with enterprises in a role related to connecting with customers, we need to do a shift in perspective. For right now, put on your “customer” hat; we all are customers, in addition to trying to connect with them. Through that lens, “good attention” is the type of attention you pay when something connects with you. It’s the type of attention to things you find interesting or engaging or intelligent or emotional. Conversely, “bad attention” is the attention that you pay, but you wouldn’t choose to if you had a better (or any) option.

Here are some examples of “good attention”

  • The attention you pay to any experience that you eventually tell a friend about
  • Ads that you want to watch more than once
  • Blog posts that makes you smile
  • Thoughtful Twitter followers
  • Thoughtful comments
  • Fiero!

Here are some examples of “bad attention”

  • Unsolicited email newsletters
  • Popup and pop-under ads
  • Any “interruptive” ads
  • Most display ads
  • Impressions
  • Page views
  • Spam

I struggled where to put the attention acts of “becoming a Fan” and “becoming a Follower” on this list. If you become a fan of a brand on Facebook because you like the brand, I think it’s at best a neutral. On the other hand, if you are forced to click “Like” in order to see a page’s content or to enter a one-shot contest as part of a campaign, that’s bad attention. It distorts and overloads the meaning of the word “Like” in such as way that is ultimately detrimental to an enterprise. The focus on “counting metrics” is almost always used as the starting point at measuring the impact of social engagement. But it can’t stop there.

Counting metrics are frequently used by enterprises at Stage 2 on the Social Engagement Journey. This is normal. Unfortunately, like high fructose corn syrup, counting fans and followers are the empty calories of customer engagement. They taste great at the time, but in the long run have a strong likelihood of causing damage. A focus on fan and follower counts ultimately leads to being caught in a bad attention trap.

So what can you do to move along the Journey?

  1. Think about whether you are attracting good attention or bad attention from your engagement activities
  2. Begin the transition from counting metrics to metrics that matter to both customers and your brand (like NPS)
  3. Don’t be complacent, thinking that having two million fans on your Facebook page means that you’re doing a good job at building long-lasting customer relationships with those two million individuals. It doesn’t. (Do you know how many of those two million fans are current customers of your brand? If the answer is “no, we don’t know,” then recognize that you’re likely falling into the trap of bad attention.)

3 Replies to “Counting “Fans” And “Followers” Is The HFCS Of Social Engagement”

  1. Chris, love the direction that you’re taking this. I think it boils down to the fact that good attention can be hard. It takes thought, it takes time, it takes purpose, it takes authenticity and occasionally it takes dedication to do the right thing over and over. Great work!

Comments are closed.