Writing by Nick Stamoulis in Social Media
In a recent interview with I did with link building expert Eric Ward, he brought up some great points about social media bias saying;
Likes and shares and pluses are really not very good metrics for organic search, because there are inherent biases against certain topics. The search engines have to be able to recognize that a site or brand is not popular or unpopular based purely on tweet/plus/like
It’s easy to Like your favorite shoe brand on Facebook, follow your local pizza joint on Twitter so you know what the daily special is or share positive (and negative) experiences about the last flight to New York City you took, but what about brands that don’t just get that kind of social love? Does it mean their social media marketing campaign isn’t working? It could very well be, but if you feel like you are doing everything right and still aren’t seeing the social engagement you’d been hoping for here is one thing to keep in mind—social media is biased.
Even though consumers are putting more and more of their personal lives online, happily sharing their opinions (both good and bad) about their favorite restaurants, movies, books, bands, retailers and more, there are also a lot of things that people don’t talk about online. Let’s say you’re the parent of two elementary school children and one day your kids come home with the dreaded scourge of second grade—head lice. (This is Eric’s standard example when explaining social media bias). You’re obviously going to invest in a lice shampoo like RID and be incredibly grateful when it does what it’s supposed to do, but are you really going to Like RID on Facebook? Are you going to Tweet you thanks and broadcast to the social world that your children had head lice? You might, but it’s probably more likely a no than yes. There are hundreds of products and companies that cater to someone’s personal needs that you don’t necessarily want to publicly endorse via social media, so even though those brands may have a very loyal (and grateful) customer base, they won’t have the social presence of a less personal product.
Social media bias makes it that much harder to measure the impact of your brand’s social media marketing campaign because, if your products are on the wrong side of that bias, chances are your customers aren’t publicly interacting with your company on social networking sites. Social networking should really be about engagement, generating conversations with your target audience, sharing content and so forth—but how do you measure that engagement when customers don’t want to share their dirty laundry? They might be eternally grateful for the service you provided but what if they aren’t broadcasting that publicly? How do you connect with your target audience if there is a social media bias?
There are some personal products, like U by Kotex, that have a very active and very strong social media presence. U by Kotex has taken a topic that traditionally women don’t like talking about in a public setting and taken the stance that it’s “time to stop all the weirdness about periods.” They took a very personal and sometimes touchy subject, and adopted the social stance that there is nothing wrong with talking about it; encouraged the sharing of personal stories and their customers ran with it! The results? 52,608 Likes, 1,603 Twitter Followers, 1,482 subscribers to their YouTube channel, 20,000 contest submissions (their goal) and much more. If you take a look at their Facebook page you’ll see hundreds of comments spread across all their updates and posts, some of which are more though provoking like “What do you think are some ways our society still encourages period shame?” (22 comments) and lighter posts such as “’Like’ if you have a pair of super-comfy pants that you pull out when you are bloated, have cramps, or have a case of “I have my period and just want to curl up in bed” blahs?” (144 Likes). They hit both the serious side of their target audience, as well as make something that could be very intimidating to take about in a public forum much more conversational and light-hearted. By coming at it from both angles, U by Kotex is able to keep their target audience engaged. If they kept the tone serious/medically-minded at all times they wouldn’t be capable of getting women to “warm up” to their brand. On the other hand, if all they did was “social fluff” and they didn’t talk about more serious issues from time to time then their customers wouldn’t turn to them for information. A great social brand is there for their customers every step of the way.
U by Kotex worked to overturn the social media bias their products were up against and created an incredibly popular and well-received social brand. In order to do so they first had to admit there was a bias and then create and execute a campaign designed to combat that bias directly. How did they do that? They made their brand about their customers and their customers’ personal experiences! Your brand is capable of doing the same thing.