Five days in Las Vegas with my Internet friends always forces me into a fit of introspection about where I’m going, how fast and who with. Blog World & New Media Expo brings together a good number of my online contacts. We talk, learn, laugh and enjoy each other’s company for a few days, talk about the state of things in the social media world and sometimes even reset our focus for the upcoming year.

Where do you spend the most of your marketing energy?

Where do you spend the most of your marketing energy?

Perhaps it’s because I attend a fair number of conferences and can grow road weary or a bit of personal cynicism, but my thoughts this weekend kept gravitating to the superficiality of online relationships. I’m friends with these people, but I don’t know them well. Nor do they know me. There are exceptions, of course, but the absence of depth to the friendships leads me to question their inherent value.

Apply the same thinking to online networks for your business. Are 10,000 Facebook fans or Twitter followers really all that meaningful to your brand? They are if those 10,000 people invest their time and money in your product or service. If they just click “Become a Fan” or “Follow” just to get a coupon or participate in a promotion, then their interest wanes, was your time and effort really worth it?

With consumer audiences we tend to spend a lot of time and energy worried about acquisition. In the business-to-business (B2B) space, there is more focus on retention because each customer generally spends a lot more money to be such. Sure, you want to acquire new business there too, but it’s probably more important to keep your customers than just go get more.

Social media success lies in relationships. Not just the building, but maintaining as well. Perhaps your initial efforts there should be to connect and empower your loyal customers rather than chasing new ones. Perhaps your personal focus should be upon those closest to you and not the fleeting acquaintances found in the online world.

This isn’t to say that potential customers (or friends) aren’t important. Only that we shouldn’t under-serve our current ones at their expense.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.viperchill.com/ Glen Allsopp

    I couldn't agree with you more. I met up with some online friends for the first time recently, offline. It is soo different meeting people in person and the relationships are far greater than those you can create online.

    Hopefully I can meet you at one of these things one day ;)

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      I look forward to it, Glen. Thanks for the comment.

  • http://oldmedianewtricks.com dan360man

    Agreed, and this is something we also see with brands doing social media. Too often are they in “acquisition” mode, that they often undervalue their current friends, fans and followers.

    By paying more attention to your existing contacts, you'll be able to form deeper relationships with them. From a numbers perspective, growth may be slower, but you're doing yourself a favor in the long run.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Agreed, for sure, Dan. Thanks for the acknowledgement.

  • http://twitter.com/RedheadWriting RedheadWriting

    I've spent a lot of time as of late bringing my circle of contacts closer as opposed to spreading them out. On Twitter, I'm an active “unfollower.” On Facebook, I communicate with my community via a Fan page where I post the updates from all three of the blogs I contribute to. It's really not a numbers game. It's the quality of your feed. You can only get good information from a feed to which you can actually pay attention – if your feed is cluttered (as sometimes our personal lives are with extraneous people), you're going to suffer and social media efforts will become a burden. It's IS about relationships. You won't sustain any sort of following without putting effort into them.

    Great connecting with you at Blog World, Jason. After a year or two on Stumble Upon and lurking on your blog, it was great to see (in person) a big 'ol heart behind the words.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Well said, Red. Thanks. And it was I who was thrilled to meet you. I
      love the lurkers. Heh.

  • http://twitter.com/prblog Kevin Dugan

    Jason – Engagement as opposed to acquisition makes good sense. But some brands are getting their house in order around social media, and they need to go through the initial cycle of “we're here!”

    Perhaps we're looking at something more cyclical or comparable to lead generation/incubation.

    Regardless, far too often I see clients go through acquisition with a specific customer segment around a promotion and then walk away for 11 months until the promotion comes up again. Starting with acquisition and shifting to engagement helps ensure it's not drive by marketing and a more beneficial relationship can ensue.

    Over time if you only focus on the current core of friends, romans, customers, whatever you will eventually need to remind people outside the inner circle that you're out there. I do not want to assume I know everyone there is to know that can teach me something.

    Bottom line? Your point is well taken. You're not limiting yourself to just current friends/clients, just spending more quality time with them and less time with everyone.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks Kevin. Great perspectives as usual! Appreciate you sharing here.

  • http://www.kherize5.com Suzanne Vara

    Jason

    So very well said. Social media is about relationships – new and old and those that are sort of in between while we decide where they fit in. It is so easy to get caught up in finding new people that reaching out to those that we can build a stronger relationship with seems to get lost.

    Great to meet you at blogworld. Thank you so very much for hosting the party and of course for supporting your Perry shirt. We had a great group that night and were able to expand on relationships. Catch ya next time in Vegas but this time I will get ya a drink!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks Suzanne. Great to meet you, too!

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  • http://www.techipedia.com Tamar Weinberg

    Great post, Jason.

    “If they just click “Become a Fan” or “Follow” just to get a coupon or participate in a promotion, then their interest wanes, was your time and effort really worth it?”

    I agree – I think one way to reconcile this (at least something I'd appreciate) is being able to consume that data at will via RSS. I'd love to be able to easily follow everything in my own terms and in my own environment. That's also why I subscribe to Twitter feeds via RSS. (I've tried to subscribe to my own Twitter feed, though, and I get dclinton's Twitter feed. I don't even know who that is… But I digress.)

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks Tamar. Or should I say Mrs. Clinton. Heh. How many Twitter
      feeds to you follow via RSS? Seems like that would clutter your
      reader, but I've never tried it. Certainly makes them searchable …
      smart.

      • http://www.techipedia.com Tamar Weinberg

        The answer: not enough. ;)

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    Congratulations!! I hope the new role is everything you want it to be and more.

    Best wishes…and so happy you are continuing on with this…

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    Congrats, it takes a lot of patience to continue writing in a blog every week and keep coming up with new material. Keep blogging.

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  • santiagomerea

    Very interesting post! I really mean it!
    Sometimes with my business I get too busy trying to communicate with too many people, that at the end of the day, are not my most loyal costumers. This article reminds me that I should not forget about the importance of assigning time and resources based on the ROI of those relationships.
    Thanks,
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    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks for the comment Santiago.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adam-Stewart/903660242 Adam Stewart

    Hi Jason,
    I post I wrote on Blue Shirt Nation is featured in the Zemanta links of this post, and that link drives a surprising amount of traffic to my blog. The problem is that I migrated my blog to a new platform some time ago, and now that link is broken. I would love if people clicking through could actually reach the post they are trying to find. Do you have any control over the Zemanta links? If so, I'd love if you could update the URL to:
    http://www.discobeta.com/blog/2008/3/4/the-succ

    Thanks so much,
    Adam

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      I don't have Zemanta links on this post, so I'm not sure what you're referring to. Once the links are posted on the page, I can manually change them, though. Happy to do so if you can point me to the right place.

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