Jonathan Greene

Social Media Marketing: Why should I like or follow you?

September 10th, 2013

Once upon a time, I was the new kid at school. Since I was a fairly athletic kid, I soon found myself in the midst of a pickup football game at recess. Imagine my horror when, despite my lack of knowledge about the competition, I was selected as a team captain.

I remember asking kids to explain to me, as quickly as possible, why I should choose them for my team. Some kids gave excellent reasons. “I’ve got good hands,” says one. “I’m the fastest kid here,” chimed in another. Many of the kids, however, never offered any answer to my question. Some of them ended sitting out the game because they couldn’t articulate why they should be picked. In football, as in social media, the key to getting picked is selling yourself.

You’re probably used to selling your products, but do you sell your social media?

Here’s what I mean.


How does value proposition relate to social media?

The fundamental value proposition question is:

“If I’m your ideal prospect, why should I buy from you rather than any of your competitors?”

I’ve even heard the phrase expanded in an academic environment to include this add-on phrase: “or do nothing at all?”

The “do nothing at all” is an important distinction because given a set of equally depressing options, a consumer may elect to forgo any product purchase at all.

Therefore, the smart companies tailor product development efforts in such a way the value proposition question produces a satisfying answer in regard to product offerings.

This leads me to another important question.

If product developers know that answering the value proposition question effectively is the key to successful product development, then why can’t a similar logic be applied to your social media efforts?


Whose problem are you solving?

The biggest problem I see with most social media marketing campaigns is usually a paradigm problem. It’s also the primary reason why a company won’t ultimately become successful in the medium.

When companies launch marketing efforts, it’s generally to boost sales. But social media, however, is only successful when content solves a customer problem, not a lack of sales problem.

In other words, most companies are not asking the right value exchange questions. Let’s take Twitter for example.

The prevalent mindset is a company-centric focus of “how can we sell products using Twitter?” instead of a customer-centric focus on “why should potential customers engage our Twitter feed rather than any of our competitors’?”

Consequently, it would do well for marketers to stop and ask the fundamental question, “Is there any true value in our marketing proposition?”


From my experience, when marketers begin to ask these deeper questions about their social media content, the conversational ratio of their posts begins to change – usually for the better.

Here’s another fantastic illustration of my point.


Do this:


Not this: 


Notice how Publix has given the visitor a solution to their problem of wanting to eat more fish. They’ve included a free fish recipe, and a mouthwatering image of a completed meal.

The value of this post is clear and easily recognized. I want to engage with this content because doing so will enable me to cook a great fish meal for my family and achieve my goal of eating more fish.

The hoodie retailer, on the other hand, clearly has no answer to the question of why a user would want to engage with the content. Other than the gratuitous pandering about Saturday tailgates, the retailer makes no effort to solve any problem for the customer.

It even goes as far as to command the customer to “shop now.” Anybody who’s ever crafted a call-to-action knows that dog won’t hunt.

This post is designed to solve the retailer’s problem: the need to sell hoodies. It holds no value for customers whatsoever.


Value proposition is the ultimate social media yardstick

Transformation takes time.

As you might have guessed, shaping engaging content is not a destination you can reach within five minutes of launching a new social campaign.

Engaging content is the reason you should quit attempting to measure the success of your social media campaigns in terms of conversion. The medium is about clout, not sales, and success has to be measured in terms of engagement, not conversion.

I know this can be tough for old-school “measurement is management” marketers to buy into. Nevertheless, social media’s entire premise is about caring for the needs of your customers.

Plenty of data and attribution models exist attempting to measure social media, but there is no yardstick that I care to use for letting people know I care about them by engaging them in conversation.

To satisfy the needs for those marketers who are not comfortable unless they have some measure of accountability, I recommend using value proposition as a litmus test for every post that goes into your social media content mix.

In short, if you can answer:

“Why should someone engage with you rather than someone else?”

Then at the end of the day, they are more likely to.


Related Resources:

Social Media Marketing: 4 questions to ask yourself about social media buttons

Value Proposition: 3 techniques for standing out in a highly competitive market

Social Media Marketing: A quick look at Facebook EdgeRank

Categories: Marketing Tags: , , , ,

  1. September 10th, 2013 at 10:17 | #1

    “This post is designed to solve the retailer’s problem: the need to sell hoodies. It holds no value for customers whatsoever.”

    I’ve never thought about it like that before – a post trying to solve retailer problems instead of solving problems for the customer. It really is all about how customer problems are addressed and, as we are finding more and more in social media marketing, content is king.

  2. September 16th, 2013 at 10:34 | #2

    I am often amazed when I am asked to like companies & products I don’t know. I asked a small business owner this question and they said they wanted to reach a goal of XXX number of Facebook “Likes”.

    But a Facebook “Like” implies endorsement. Now that I see how Facebook is using our “Likes” in promotional advertising…I am “un-Liking” businesses I would not directly refer to a friend.

  3. September 16th, 2013 at 11:02 | #3

    Social media and marketing don’t belong in the same three word phrase. Too many marketers are confused by the term. It’s really quite simple:

    Twitter and Facebook aren’t free billboards on the internet. If you simply wish to advertise, both of these platforms have paid options, which you’d be well served to investigate.

    Instead, set about with the intention to make genuine and helpful connections with people. It’s not a quick fix, and it’s real work that requires real commitment. Anything else is simply more noise.

  4. September 16th, 2013 at 22:40 | #4

    Thanks for defining the purpose of social media in terms of marketing. Having XXX number of likes on Facebook never made sense to me. Who cares? What does it gain you? Warm fuzzy feeling somebody cares. Give me a break. All fine and good for the adolescents who started this tsunami. As for the rest of us, more is just . . . more.

  5. November 21st, 2013 at 13:10 | #5

    Engaging is important as conversion, yes businesses have to be more engaging and less worried about conversion (in social media marketing). However i think that a good social media marketing strategy could do a lot for businesses conversion. Social is “spread the word” the the only problem is how the product is “advertised”, how they make important the product for customers (customer problem solving, retailer problem solving…). They have to focus on customers needs!

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