It’s easy to set up a Facebook page or a Twitter account. And then you can say you are doing social media marketing, can’t you?! But, think a little harder: are you making a rod for your own back in the long term? Do you know what consumers want or do you make assumptions about what the brand thinks they want?

A recent report by Exact Target called The Social Break Up may not make comfortable reading for the many companies who think that simply creating a Facebook page with offers or tweeting marketing messages is effective social media marketing.

It would seem that consumers are becoming much more discerning in what they sign up to, engage with and are willing to receive through their social streams. For many brands, unless a dialogue is established and the offers are compelling, it is as easy to Unlike or Unfollow as it is to just allow the messages to fill your stream. And this may come as a shock to brands who have failed to understand that the rest of the Web is just one click away. Not, as it used to be, a click leading to another website, but a more permanent click that removes the brand from the consumer’s stream and mindset, potentially for good.

There is something almost final in removing a brand from your social stream. Whilst it may only be a simple click to Unlike or to Unfollow, there is a level of psychology associated with that process which runs deeper into the psyche. You have chosen not to associate with that brand any longer. And it may be that next time you see that brand on a supermarket shelf or in a retailer or advertised on TV, you think about the fact you have unfollowed them.

And why did you unfollow? Was it that there were simply too many marketing messages? Aka spam in many people’s minds. Perhaps the offers were of no interest? Perhaps a suggestion, feedback or an Direct Message you sent was ignored or not replied to?

However, there are some very interesting stats in the Social Break up Report.

For instance, 24% of Facebook users surveyed said that they had UnLiked a brand because there were not enough deals/offers, whilst a strikingly similar 24% said that they had UnLiked because there were too many promotions. So, there is a balance to be struck here if you want to continually avoid putting off a 1/4 of your Friends.

26% said they had Liked a brand simply to take advantage of a deal to then UnLike once that had been acquired. Consider this quote from the report:

Marketers should consider their goals when offering promotions through Facebook—are you looking for a long-term relationship, or just a one-night stand?

Whilst every brand must expect churn and an ongoing win-lose of friends, customers etc, understanding what you are likely to gain from your social relationships is vital if you do not want to give away too many tempting goodies only to watch the punters turn their backs on you immediately.

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About the author:

A practising internet marketing consultant since 1996, Lindsey Annison helps companies improve their website marketing, online PR and information architecture. Lindsey is also a qualified adult education lecturer and author. As co-founder of the Access to Broadband Campaign, she has been instrumental in the provision of high-speed internet access to rural areas in the UK. Lindsey is also a past winner of Silicon.com's Outstanding Contribution to UK Technology