TV will grow your brand, not Facebook

You don’t see that kind of headline very often. A leading Marketing academic sees Facebook from a different angle and makes a semi-convincing argument.

Professor Byron Sharp claims that your most valuable audience is not made up of your frequent users, like your Facebook fans and your Twitter followers. They’ve already bought into your brand and focusing on them is like preaching to the choir.

He suggests that the most valuable audience is made up of consumers that have not been convinced to buy into your product offering. They’re not tweeting or hashtagging about you. They’re the ‘light users’ who need to be persuaded if you want your brand to grow. Advertisers should reach them though TV and be prepared to pay more.

I see his point to some extent. But I think this approach devalues a brand’s existing user base, cheapens online marketing efforts and fails to take into account the enormous power of brand advocacy.

Ignore fans and die
What about brand loyalty? Pay no attention to your lovers, they’ll forget about you and you’ll lose them, fast. I’m pretty sure that’s the opposite of how to grow a brand.

Peer-to-peer pressure
Your friends see you interacting with a brand online, and they want in. Hey, your brand just grew a little bit. Bit tricky to do this with TV. It’s a one (sided) trick pony talking at you.

Warning! Fan thieves operate in this area.
If you don’t show your followers a little lovin’, someone else will. A competitor’s shiny new dangling carrot could suddenly seem far more attractive than the pocket of dusty air you’ve been offering recently. And…suddenly you’re brand is down.

I agree with Byron that the way to grow a brand is to expose new people to it and convince them to convert. But I don’t this is a sound rationale for giving TV a bigger slice of the advertising budget. I think digital has an important role too.

And, retention is vital for brand growth. Equal attention must be paid to rewarding those who have already bought into your brand and reminding them why they did so in the first place. Otherwise, your loyal users will disengage and defect and before you know it, you’ll have to work even harder to claw your way back to your targets.

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