The addition of the +K feature on Klout has seen a flurry of activity on the social networks as everyone rushes to court favour with customers and contacts by scoring a +K for specific topics as requested by the recipient. “K farms” is the term being currently used, and one wonders how these farms will fare compared to all the other farms which have been stomped on over the years for artificially raising rankings etc.
But getting involved in dubious techniques such as offering to add a +K to your loyal customers’ Klout scores, despite it being the hot trend amongst social media folk, would seem unwise.
However, the lack of involvement by the big brands in many aspects of social media activity highlights an ongoing problem for brands, corporates and businesses.
How to use social media or so-me to engage with customers, build brand and reputation and see that necessary evil – return on investment.
The problem is that learning about your audience by conducting conversations with them is a time-consuming affair. The ROI is not always clear, although the benefits of such engagement may be more apparent when metrics such as influence, reputation, authority, and the increase in social signals are considered. However, these are ‘nebulous’ metrics which are often difficult to assign £ signs to.
The problem for businesses is comprehending that a lack of engagement will have a far more negative effect on reputation etc that can carry a sting in the tail for a long time. If you switch consumers off by failing to engage at all, it is likely that the negative association with your brand in consumers’ minds will continue into the future, however much advertising and marketing budget you throw at the problem.
There are some clear examples of brands failing to engage at any level, who just seemed to have misunderstood entirely what so-me is about. The clue really is in the name!
Social media is not a one way mechanism, and it most definitely is not about broadcasting and then failing to listen. Monologues are not social! Establishing a dialogue with those you are targeting is vital; yet it seems to be one of the major problems that companies are struggling to come to terms with.
One of the red herrings that has caused this problem is “the need for followers”. Yes, you need followers, and numbers may keep the management happy. However, if this is at the cost of building customer relationships and creating quality dialogues, then it is a crash and burn technique. However large your social media team, there is a limit to how many conversations can be successfully carried on.
Whilst the vast majority may be one-time conversations eg “How do I get a refund on this faulty product?”, there will be other conversations where you are building a relationship that will help turn a single purchaser customer into a loyal evangelist of your brand. It is those dialogues which are possibly most important as they permit you to enjoy the benefits of customer retention vs customer acquisition.
The K Farms episode should highlight for all brands and companies the importance of developing strategies which can make the most of short-lived trends, where appropriate, whilst focussing on long-term engagement using the right tool for the jobs the company needs to undertake to succeed.
Yes, jump on a bandwagon such as EmpireAvenue.com to bring your brand to a wider audience, but don’t then think the job is done.
Whether it is Twitter, a Tumblr blog, social bookmarks, or adding +Ks to your followers as a goodwill gesture, it is important to realise that each action you carry out will build on those of the past and it is necessary to consistently add to those actions on a daily or at least weekly basis to maintain the conversations.