Let me tell you a secret I don't often share: I have a magic social media button. This button has only one special power: when I press it, I can immediately give you a million fans, followers or friends. You can choose whether you want this instant audience on Twitter or Facebook or some other site. They would have no cost to you, and you would have all of them overnight. The only catch is that they are from completely random regions and demographics – and I can offer you no guarantee if they know anything about your business at all.
Would you ask me to push that button? More importantly, if I did offer you a million new fans overnight – what would you do with them? Everytime I ask this question, I'm greeted with a similar silence. See, the problem with the math here is that I'm giving you a truckload of UNQUALIFIED followers to your page. For all you know, I might be offering a million steak lovers as new followers for your vegetarian restaurant. Good luck using Facebook to convince them to give up their steaks and go for tofu instead.
Ok, by now you've probably realized that I don't actually have that magic button – but the premise isn't so silly. Everyday business owners challenge their marketing teams to build fan bases to reach as big a number as possible. So they turn to promotions and short term incentives. Like our page for a chance to win a vacation. Follow us on Twitter and we'll give 10 cents to the charity of your choice. Who cares what you like, if you care about our brand or if you might ever actually buy anything from us?
Playing the volume game is setting yourself up for failure. Instead, you need to focus all of your efforts on two big things:
1. Passion – how much do you love us, our products, our people or your experience with our business?
2. Influence – what is the size of your network and how many people pay attention to your opinion?
Those two elements are the real secret formula behind social media. When you have them both, all sort of good things happen. People talk to other people. Engagement is high. Customer satisfaction, and more importantly, customer delight goes through the roof. If you're looking for a formula for success in social media, that's it. It might not be as easy as a magic button – but it is certainly not complicated.