Continuing the interview with Stephen Lee from Miltton – more thoughts about Social Media.
JB: Following on from the topic of misconceptions. Buying likes: how have these misconceptions affected Miltton?
SL: When people buy likes it gets them nowhere, they’re totally worthless. The reason that likes are important is so that you can mine data from people you’ve organically grown and you can know them better. If you got all these likes through a campaign, that people want free movie tickets, you’ve got them for a couple of minute, but after that they’re done.
I was once teaching a class at a Helsinki school. I tell everyone I have a bowl of candy, you have ten minutes to bring people into the classroom. I didn’t tell them to tell people there was candy in the class. Soon enough each one of them has two or three people with them. I ask the new people why they are here? They respond that they heard there was candy. I tell them to take some.
Then I asked who wants to stay – nobody, they all left. I asked the students left in the class what they learnt from this – “You actually have to have something that people care about”.
This is the way we’re getting likes to happen all the time. It’s not that they really want to keep up with you, that they’re your friend. Facebook provides great data for each one of these situations. It creates the opportunity to understand what people care about if those likes have come in organically: people love your product and love who you are. You’re providing them with real context. If you went out and bought them, they’re worthless.
Again, people seem to think that likes are so important, but they’re not if they’re not grown organically.
JB: Are there any industries that wouldn’t benefit from Social Media?
SL: Any person who wants to have relationships with potential clients and wants to have a reputation that’s good, to be the one that’s trusted by answering the questions of the community. If you have any of those needs then you probably could use Social Media. The way that you could use it might be different. It’s really about saying “how can I build more and more relationships, and solve more problems”. If you don’t need or want the other business, then you don’t need to be on Social Media.
JB: What about B2B in Social Media. There’s a general perception that this is all about B2C?
SL: People have reputations to take care of. A good way of utilising Social Media is customer service because if do this in public then everyone gets the same answer at the same time, the same way you would do on a forum.
For other B2B scenarios you should always remember brand building, word of mouth and reputation. You might not know it at the time but imagine that the daughter of a CEO of a construction company could influence the purchases that the CEO might make. She might say that the company the CEO was considering purchasing from is the least sustainable company out there. They are ruining the environment. Would the CEO want to be associated with a company that puts toxins in the ground – let alone disappoint his or her daughter in the process?
This is starting to matter even more because companies are being judged by the people you deal with as they have Facebook and their reputation is out there. The transparency of all of this makes it really, really important to handle your public relations effectively (no matter what platform).
JB: Everyone talks a lot about Facebook, but what about the other platforms?
SL: It depends on what you need to do. I don’t like to, or I found it ineffective to, say we’re going to be on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or LinkedIn before we really understand what the company would like to do. It’s much more about a combination of those things that helps fix the problem that you’re trying to solve with Social Media. I’ve learned from here, being in Miltton, that it’s not about the technology at all. First we look at what people need to do better. Then we say to ourselves what technology might help that out, or how are we going to solve that problem?
JB: You may go to some brand’s Facebook pages and see they have 100,000 followers but only 20 people talking about it. What’s your take on that?
SL: Companies are not paying enough attention to the “Talking About” metric, they’re all looking to the number of likes they have on their page(s). You want more people talking about you in a positive way, on your site or Social Media presence, about the content you’re producing. That’s what brings value to the company.
Many brands now have millions of followers because when the hype of Social Media took off they were the first ones to make a Facebook page. Now, you have to earn your fans because people are used to all the stuff that comes in. They’re very much in the mindset of “everything sucks, I want ‘something new’ companies”. When a company starts trying out stuff that was relevant 4-5 years ago people already don’t listen to them – they want the next level. That’s difficult.