Got Fans. Got Followers. What’s Next? Participation!

Marketing using social media is an incredibly attractive proposition. Somehow, though the magic of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and a host of others, brands accumulate massive numbers of fans and followers at no or little cost. After all, how much effort does it take to give a brand a thumbs-up? The answer is not what it costs but what value the brand gets from the action. In other words, simply accumulating massive numbers of fans and followers provides zero value. What you need is participation.

Participation is what happens when a fan or follower becomes engaged and really starts behaving the way all those social media pundits say they can. They get really involved; they become ambassadors sneezing your promotions, offers and news around to their friends. Achoo! Sounds simple. Get the customer/prospect ‘infected’ with brand enthusiasm and everything takes care of itself. Not quite.


Most marketers, unfamiliar or barely conversant with social media themselves, have little or no idea how to actually cause genuine participation. After all, historically marketers didn’t really want consumers to actually respond to promotions; they wanted to make a big splash with the trade and hope that participation/redemption was minimal. But with social media you turn everything upside down. You absolutely want and need as much participation as possible.


To get it you have to not only master the complexities of social media but also know your audience intimately. This is the $64,000 (or million) dollar question: what can cause the consumer to break out of their ennui and actually do something. Of course, not all consumers will react identically to the same stimulus. This is the hard part. Being in active contact via these same media is a great first step. This is not something you simply turn on and walk away. You have to be in touch with these potential ambassadors all the time. And the more ‘ambassadorial’ the more nurturance they demand and deserve. And then you test. You put on your direct marketing hat and look at the impact minor variables offer.


But whatever you do ask this question first: does this particular promotion/event/whatever encourage participation? If not, go back and start over.