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Social Media Marketing: How To Stop Faking It (With Your Following)

Now hang on a minute, there!

Don’t go getting any ideas about the content of this article: I’m talking about social media, not bedroom bouncies (though the latter is certainly a hot topic – see Holly Baxter’s recent article for The Guardian.)

Whether your business is invested in social media or not, chances are that you will have acquired a few Facebook fans or Twitter followers along the way. But my question, both to myself and to you, is: how many of these are ‘fake’?

By ‘fake’, I mean the kind of fan who will never engage with you on any level. I don’t necessarily think engagement equates to buying any of a brand’s products, but I definitely think you can tell a ‘real’ from a ‘fake’ by how demonstrably he/she buys into – and shows interest in – your brand via the various social media channels. I’m of the school of thought that says social media is just as valuable in terms of brand-building as it is for conversion into sales; i.e. if you want to see a tangible ROI directly from social media contacts, you might be missing the point. Yes, what I call ‘real’ followers can and do materialise into real leads, but you can’t put a price on word of mouth or the active support of your brand that can be achieved by forging positive connections with social media fans.

What about if you’ve ever run a competition on social media, I hear you cry! You may have achieved many followers that way, and indeed that may have been the point: is it possible to convert ‘compers’ into fans who are truly engaged with your brand, or is there little point?

The answer is yes, I think, which is why my company does run such competitions and giveaways every so often. Now, I’m not saying that if you gain 5,000 new fans within the course of a competition, these will all be ‘real’; indeed, many may not even linger after the competition is over. But if you manage your page well, you can expect to keep 80-90% of these new fans on board.

Here are a few ways to stop ‘faking it’ with your following:

Get personal.

This doesn’t mean messaging every new follower or fan as soon as they join saying  ‘thanks for the follow’ or whatever. Who are we fooling? This takes zero effort and your new fan knows this – particularly if he/she searches for you and sees a stream of similar messages with simply the @Name changed.

Instead, do a little research. Look at profiles, find out what he/she is about. Stagger your messages and tailor these so that the content is relevant and thoughtful; find aspects of your business that can relate, so that you can direct your follower to your website without seeming as if you are grasping. i.e. ‘Hi, @Name, thanks for follow. Love your redecoration pics! There are some handy [colour/accessory/design] ideas on our blog [link].’


Social media isn’t just about us, it’s about our fans, too. If you see that someone is doing something great, why not shout out about it? By showing that you understand that social media is a two-way street, and that you’re making an effort, you’ll immediately encourage your followers to engage with you on a deeper level – and you’ll distinguish yourself from the many other businesses who do nothing but spam about their products on a daily basis.

Which brings me onto my final suggestion: be characterful, and be consistent.

It can be hard to find your social media ‘persona’ if you are a more luxurious brand: social media success does necessitate a bit more informality that can be comfortable. However, there is no reason why you can’t maintain your brand image whilst letting your followers know that you are still human. Share beautiful photos or artworks; share things that make you smile; share news stories that are related to your industry. There are many common threads that tie us together and if you can tap into that, whilst staying true to your brand, you will be onto a winner.

And don’t forget to maintain a regular posting schedule – your followers will get used to hearing from you and may not take kindly to an ‘interruption in service’!

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An Oxford University graduate, Florence is the Creative Director at an e-commerce company and the only female on the board. Out of the office she is a food and wine fanatic, action film fan, secret chick lit reader and corporate commentator for My Little Black Book.

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