They're Followers. Not Deal Hunters.

“Customers only follow us because they want deals and discounts.” I’ve heard this countless times in meetings. There’s often a misperception that a brand has to offer steep discounts and exclusive offers for consumers to pay attention to them on social networks. The truth is, deals are just a bonus. What they really want is to hear from the brand.

Deals and discounts certainly help, but they’ve never been the key to success. If anything, they offered a way to get people to follow a brand, giving the brand a chance to deliver a different kind of value in the form of ongoing content, which consumers value over the long-term.

Now, we have the stats to prove it.

We’re all evolving.

Facebook declared that brands needed to offer value to their communities in the form of content when it got rid of landing tabs. Facebook pages can no longer be treated like microsites. They now need to be leveraged the way they were always meant to--as a way to connect with a community of brand fans. Marketers have been forced to evolve their approaches to Facebook.

Consumers are evolving too. eMarketer reports that 59% follow companies online because they shop at their stores or purchase their products. 45% want insider knowledge and special deals, and 38% want to keep tabs on the company. The bottom line is people follow brands they advocate for.

We can leverage this mindset.

This means consumers who follow a brand are ripe with opportunity. They aren’t just people we can deliver content to. They’re individuals we can mobilize.

With mass media, advertisers are paying a network for its audience. With social media, we’re using our audience to reach their networks (their social networks). A consumer who follows a brand can be motivated to spread word of mouth, multiply engagements and deliver a brand message far more effectively than a brand can do on its own to their interpersonal networks.

The opportunity is significant. Wildfire released a report on the impact of superfans and found, among other things, that: 

  • For every 10 advocates a brand gets to join a social campaign, 13 new people interact with the brand.
  • Brands that focus on engaging advocates see three times more engagement than average brands.
  • Brand advocates generate an average of 14 earned media impressions each.

They’ve raised their hands.

Consumers who have chosen to follow a brand have raised their hands. They’re interested. They’re invested. Now, use the tools (deals, exclusive access, content, promotions, etc.) to mobilize that community into action. They’re waiting for something other than deals.