I remember not too long ago when Facebook rolled out new ‘like’ pages that looked like and acted like personal profile pages. I remember the cries of ‘What is Facebook doing?? This is disastrous. Facebook is trying to kill businesses in Facebook.’ What we know now is that Facebook was trying to set businesses up for success because they already knew what businesses really needed. And it was brilliant. Here’s why.
Here’s the bottom line when it comes to branding. In the old days (like 5 years ago, right??) a company could get their message out to a mass audience using traditional methods, and their message would be seen by millions if they blanketed that message in print, TV, radio, and other traditional channels. Not so anymore. The Internet provides all of us the tools to filter only what we want to see, from just the people that we want to see it from. So the only way that you’ll hear about that news story or that new product or Miley Cyrus swinging naked on a wrecking ball (you did hear about that, right?) is if your friends and family share it with you on Facebook or Twitter. You see what I mean?
Google even provides custom search results to you when you search, which means that the results are what Google thinks you want to see. So your search results are different from everybody else in the world. We TIVO only what we want to watch and skip the commercials. I use Feedly to keep track of news on websites that I want to read. If I don’t see something on those sites, I will probably miss it. In fact, I regularly add and remove news sources inside my Feedly list depending on the kind of value I am getting from them. So what does that really mean for your ‘brand’ that you have been trying to craft for years?
It’s going to die. Unless you change.
Facebook figured it out. If you want people to engage with you and ‘see’ you, you have to act like a person. What does that mean? It means you have to have a conversation with your customers. You know, a 2-way dialogue, which includes seeking their input and listening. You have to do what your customer’s friends do… provide them stuff to consume that they want to consume. If they are going to add you to their daily list of places they get information, then you have to prove yourself worthy of it. You have to earn it.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy. But if you do that, then they will seek you out. They will include you in their ‘circle’ of influence, right alongside their cousin and their boyfriend. Only then will your ‘brand’ find a footing solid enough to build on.