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The shortcomings of Facebook "likes"

The shortcomings of Facebook "likes" Amielle Lake

Facebook "likes" are rapidly becoming the new signal on the web. Whether you're a blogger, digital entrepreneur, or local business, "likes" as content tools are becoming increasingly important.

Therefore, making comparisons and connections between SMS and "likes" campaigns, independently and together, are worthwhile since consumers enjoy them both. Some say SMS was the original "like." Others say it is a stronger badge of affinity. Yet according to Ground Truth, a total of 60 percent of all time spent on the mobile internet is on social networking sites. So "likes" and SMS belong together.

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As Alan Rambam of Mobile Behavior says, his SMS's "are sacred." He considers the offers and contests he has responded to as great consumer relationship management (CRM) opportunities. They are much more powerful than just clicking on a "like." Even though "likes" facilitate greater interaction within a social network and can be effective reinforcements of network-approved behaviors and opinions, there is a limit to the depth of involvement that a "like" allows. "Likes" alone are "atta boy" media at best, right next to "poking." However, when coupled with SMS, they become an integral part of the plan.

So why are social media campaigns putting everything on a "like" campaign, when adding SMS would takes the customer right into a better place, a conversation? It should not be "one versus the other." They should be used together.

"Likes" are a "one-click word." It's a nice one, but it is limiting. SMS can create a dialogue of words, the most important being the word, "conversions."

"Likes" are a medium that by itself leads to nothing. You click on "like" and that's it. With SMS, the conversation just begins long before you get your customer to actually text. You can communicate text message offers on radio, on the radio station site, on TV, in-game, in the pre-roll, on the print ad, and on the billboard. From there you can collect addresses into a database; one that has more quality than just a number of people who have "liked" you.

There is great value when the social media experience is combined with how mobile enhances the dialogue with SMS. SMS's tie into social is critical, as brand managers often choose to invest their resources "between" mobile and social. They should work in concert, just as mobile does with other media channels.

Brands are winning fans, but without mobile marketing they are losing a generation of buyers. SMS provides five to ten times increased conversion rates over social and traditional campaigns. If your brand is still on the sidelines as it relates to mobile, the best place to start is with SMS. Tying it in with your other media is a sure way to determine if your collective campaign's efforts are winning conversions. "Likes" alone will only get you half-way there.

According to McCormick Mobile for instance, "Your SMS ad is seen: Over 90 percent of all text messages are read within minutes of their being received. You reach customers wherever they are. They don't have to be online and on social media to see your message. You can send messages to them at the exact time they are most receptive to read them. It's a simple tool for the customer to participate with your brand, and it's a brilliant way for you to track the campaign."

"Likes" are in no way substitutes for SMS. Their advantage is that they are low in cost, when you include labor hours to manage and update. They are easy and are associated with friendly content that customers hopefully like! "Likes" disadvantage is that the marketer must supply fresh content regularly. They are fleeting, have low reach, and can generate negative comments. Still, according to Blind Five Year Old, 27 percent of the top retailers have the "like" button on their product pages, SMS on the other hand is about engagement and conversions. It allows you to engage your customers at the point of sale, be that in-store or during a commercial. Engagement is memorable and creates action. An in-store or in-ad text offer encourages the person to interact. This interacting creates a memorable experience that sticks with the customer and keeps your brand in mind. 

SMS is easy to use and the consumer has control. If a person wants a coupon, or wants to vote or participate in a contest, they pull out their phone and do it. No registration and passwords are needed. Customers expect control and ease of entry makes them more likely to do it. There are no forms to fill out.

According to Mobile Commerce Daily, a total of 51 percent of all consumers have taken action or made mobile payment in the last 3 months.

For example, a global automotive retailer created a campaign with us where the challenge was to drive transactions and increase loyalty. They wanted to build a mobile database as a new direct response marketing channel for the company at retail.

The final solution was to design an in-store promotion program where signage encouraged customers to text in for future offers. Subscribers received coupons, rebates, and special offers. The results were impressive. The client accumulated over 1,000 subscribers in the first month alone. Further, a total of 34 percent of mobile shoppers clicked on an ad in response to a location-based message.

One global produce brand's goal was to create an engaging experience using special fun and educational content recipe tips with lemons. The content provided consumers with how lemons add a lot of creativity to food and beverages served when entertaining. They were designed to generate leads and engage consumers with ideas that ultimately would drive sales for more lemon products.

The solution included creating in-store signage that encouraged shoppers to text-in to receive recipes, nutritional information, and usage ideas outside of recipes. Customers were given the option to receive updates via email or SMS regarding specific products.

The outcome was impressive. During their first mobile campaign, they ran a contest and over 1000 SMS entries were sent in response to in-store signage over a three-week promotion. "Likes" could never have created the database that the SMS did.

SMS text messaging is just a few cents on the dollar compared to other advertising. When a person joins your text group they are giving up some of their privacy. It is important to respect this and use it to generate a stronger relationship. When you click on a "like" button and become part of an affinity group via Facebook, there is no expectation or opportunity other than your desire to stand up and be counted. No follow-up. No conversion.

Everybody is "liking" these days. It's what social media campaigns are measured by. The problem with "likes" is that they "have you at hello" but that's it. There's no opportunity for further dialogue, which is the most important thing. With SMS there is. Use them together. Your customers will "like" it.

Amielle Lake is CEO of Tagga Media, Inc.

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The visionary and mastermind of Tagga, Lake founded the company in 2008 after working in marketing and corporate communications in the finance industry. Armed with the knowledge that the future of marketing was not only online, but in mobile...

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to leave comments.

Commenter: Spencer Broome

2011, April 29

Agreed with above. A like is good, but just like any other aspect you shouldn't put too much stock into one variable. Each one is different. Find what works best with your audience, and reach them there.

Commenter: Katelyn Watson

2011, April 28

I agree with Frank - This article does not really make sense. Likes have value, SMS has value, the value is ..well...different. This is like comparing TV to online, or print to search, it just does not make sense.

Commenter: Frank Patrick

2011, April 28

No argument regarding the power of SMS "conversations", but I think you're giving Facebook "Likes" short shrift regarding their possibility for interaction. A "Like" isn't just a "hello" but results in a "subscription" to messaging and interaction through the Facebook wall.

Like a well-designed SMS program, a well-designed Facebook program, combining wall messages, special tabs, and apps, can provide results equal or surpassing those from SMS.

Plus there's the social aspect, allowing easy sharing of valuable interactions with friends that is not usually or easily done via SMS.

Again, I'm not saying it's one or the other, and clearly, a combination of the two can be powerful. Just saying that your characterization of Facebook "Likes" is a bit less than they are, or can be.