This audience strikes fear in the hearts of every social media marketer. It's the first question asked by companies that are considering social media programs: What if someone posts a negative comment?
I'm sure we all have acquaintances who seem to have a negative opinion about everything. They can tell you about every bad restaurant experience they've had -- and they aren't afraid to share it. But how often do you hear the positive reviews? Not nearly as often.
Sadly, in our culture, it's common to vent and complain more loudly than you praise. So as a brand, it's important to accept that this is a part of life and to recognize that complainers can also be opportunities -- not only to improve your relationship with them, but also with others who are following the thread. One of the benefits of having a social presence is that you get the opportunity for complainers to voice their complaints directly as opposed to having conversations with others behind your back.
The good friend
This final group is your true fan base. Just like in your personal life, these are your followers who are genuinely interested in what you're doing, enjoy being with you, and, when asked, will say nice things about you. They are less influenced by negative comments about you and, when pushed into the corner, will gladly stand up and defend you. They don't need to see you every day, but they like to hear from you once in awhile -- particularly when you have interesting news and successes.
So what is a brand to do with all this information? The most important point of this article is that when talking about "likes," friends, fans, followers, etc., you shouldn't lump them all into one group. Brands need to understand who their audience members are and treat them accordingly. Ferrari isn't going to sell 10 million cars anytime soon. On the other hand, Coca-Cola does have a good chance of selling products to its 57 million-plus Facebook fans.
Most Facebook fans aren't shouting your name from the rooftops, but they can have a significant impact on your success. So take the time to understand your company's fan list. You might not see every category in this article represented among your fans, but doing an analysis is a good exercise that will give you a better understanding of who your fans are so you can engage them appropriately.
Peter Platt is president of PSquared Digital.
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"I Like it blue thumb up" and "A set of people silhouettes" images via Shutterstock.