The fallacy of likes and comments and their impact

Does having a thousand likes on your Facebook page beat two hundred likes? Does having no comments on your blog post mean that no one has read it or those that did found it worthless?

A client told me recently that he does not see the need for a blog because he can’t see the connection of blogs to sales. The same client also commented that he heard that blogs can really help you get to the top of Google search results so he may consider it.

Sigh. Let’s backtrack a bit to the early days of Facebook and blogging. The former started as a social connector, and was then later adapted by businesses. The latter started as a digital diary and evolved into a mega knowledge-sharing tool (when used properly, of course).

For many business owners, marketing is a race to compete with our ever decreasing attention span. “The one with the most likes wins” - if you like me, you will get my news feed (my specials, discounts and made-up stories about why I am so great). Since creating news feeds is often mistaken as “no cost marketing,” the more the merrier.

The other side of the equation is also true. As marketers, we judge Facebook pages by their level of “interaction,” or how many comments are posted after a feed or a release. Wrong again.

A case in point. I am a disciple of Seth Godin. I believe his blog’s subscribers have reached over four million. Some blogs get fifty comments, some a hundred and fifty, both clearly a small percentage of Seth’s total network. Does this mean that Seth is wasting his time writing or that we are disillusioned to think he’s great because of the number of comments on his blog? Absolutely not.

The sad reality is that many businesses fail to grasp what marketing is, and one resounding consequence of that misunderstanding is laziness, or always looking for the easy (low or no cost) way out.

Let’s start with the New World Order of marketing: The business world has become transparent. It is all out there for us to click and find. Long gone are the days of the industrial era where marketing was about shoving coupons, advertising and great deals down consumers’ throats (push marketing). Consumers at all levels (from the simple minded to the most sophisticated) are informed, educated and question everything you attempt to present to them through their inbox, Facebook or other social media).

It is not humanly impossible for any of us to open, review or digest the amount of information that we’re exposed to on a daily basis. In marketing language, there is a lot of “noise” out there and it is deafening. One result of our inability to keep up is that we have become increasingly stressed because we might have missed something important, “fear of missing out” (FOMO).

So, we've come full circle to what marketing is all about - an emotionally-based behavior. What has replaced throwing your junk mail out is labeling you as “spam,” creating a filter that moves your messages right to “trash” or unfriending you on Facebook .What’s missing?

There is no easy way out. There is no “low cost” or “no cost” way to grow your business. Spitting out useless blogs or Facebook posts not only costs you money (your valuable time) but can drive consumers to disengage and ignore you all together (the future of your business).

To paraphrase an old political slogan: “It’s the experience, stupid.” Marketing is not about quantity, it is about engaging quality. Starbucks convinced us to spend $3.58 on a cup of coffee because the experience of buying coffee is worth the additional cost. Yes, even while going through the drive-thru, the coffee buying experience is consistent.

The key is to understand your “tribe” (Seth’s definition of those you want to serve) and connect with them by first acknowledging that you understand what makes them tick, then delivering content that makes them understood. The ability to connect consistently builds trust, loyalty, and yes, sales.

Establishing, developing and nurturing connections with the masses who spend their days swatting at the constant noise that hits their eyes and ears is hard work. Researching and digging deep into the world of your prospective or existing clients is hard work.

Asking everyone to “like” your Facebook page is easy. Writing blogs because it’ll drive you to the first page in search results may be easy but overshadowed by ignorance of how Google algorithms work and why this will never work unless you spend $7,000/month on other critical SEO elements.

I am reminded of one of the greatest commercials for a financial institution many years ago. I believe it was Smith Barney. “We make money the old fashioned way; we earn it.”

Here’s the simple bottom line: If you want my attention, you have to earn it. If you want to earn it, you better connect with me at a level that others can’t or won’t. If you infiltrate my personal space, then you better show me that you “get me.” Give me something that will either put a smile on my face, or that will get me angry. Either is an emotional reaction that shows you understand my world. Don’t insult my intelligence. I can find everything I want about you with a few clicks. Be honest and give me value - real value, not gimmicks. If you connect with me, you must be one step ahead of me at all times. I am relying on you to be my agent, to represent my interests, protect me and my money. If you can deliver, you get my loyalty. I will buy from you as long as you maintain my trust and continue to offer me value. Don’t assume you have it, earn it every time. I may not comment on your blog, or like your Facebook post, because I am busy. It means nothing. The only way you’ll know I stopped “liking” you is when I stop buying.