A Brand And Person Offer The Same Post With Very Different Results

If engagement is what you seek, people is where you'll find it

by Jason Falls |

My social media hippie friends have their collective organic panties in a tofu wad over my recent rants about how brands can’t really be human. Hey? The truth hurts, especially when you’ve been telling your clients the opposite for 8-10 years.

Sorry. They don’t call me an “instigator” for nothing, I guess.

While the recent news that Facebook will allegedly be dialing down organic reach for brand page content certainly inspired my thinking, this goes well beyond Facebook. Think about it in your own life. Would you trust the recommendation of a company to use their product or the recommendation of a person who used the product? Would you trust the company salesperson (who we assume is human) over the product user? Would you trust any of them over a trusted friend?

No, you wouldn’t. So why do we think brands can suddenly become our friends and influence our buying decisions?

Granted, it is a grey area. A brand you know, like and trust is one you’ll believe, perhaps even more so than a stranger (who is human). But let’s look at an example of how this brand-human difference comes to life. To keep the environmental considerations clean, we’ll look at Facebook.

On April 9, Quaker (a brand with solid social media content and engagement) posted the following on its Facebook page:


Quaker's Post

As of yesterday, that post garnered 165 likes, 18 comments (not including 11 of their own) and two shares.

I was one of those shares. That same day, I posted this

Jason Falls's Quaker Post

As of yesterday, that post earned one like, 38 comments (not including one from me) and zero shares.

Before the hippies go nuts (nay, granola) saying Quaker’s metrics were better, consider this:

  1. Both Quaker and I asked a question
  2. Personal content is less likely to be Liked or Shared if it’s an engagement piece (a question). The call-to-action is to answer the question, which xx people did.
  3. Quaker’s Facebook audience is 1,187,000+ people. Mine is 1,800 (friends) plus 2,700 followers — oughly 0.004 percent of theirs.

Looking at the metric the post was trying to elicit — comments — the personal posts wins. And would likely win every time, especially when you take into account the size of the audience.

Why is this so?

First, look at the posts. If you saw something in your feed posted by Quaker, you might look at it, like it and move on. If you saw the same thing posted by a human being and friend of yours (because they Shared Quaker’s original post), you’re going to pay more attention to it. Your trusted friend/connection has recommended you pay attention to this content.

How else could one (admittedly well-followed) human being out-perform a million-plus person audience brand?

And don’t get me wrong — I love what Quaker does. This isn’t about them doing anything wrong. It’s about the limitations of even a great, engaging brand compared to interactions with people, not companies or buildings.

It’s about trust. We trust humans more than we trust logos. Even if they have a cute name. (Quaker’s is Larry The Quaker Guy. Git ‘er done. Heh.)

This is why I feel strongly that the Facebook share, and more widely stated, loyalty and reward program that encourage brand advocacy and ambassadorship are where marketers need to focus their attention in the coming months or even years.

If the social media platforms are going to make us pay to play … and Facebook won’t be the last to do so … then organic reach is only going to be accomplished at meaningful levels by our most passionate fans.

Agree? Disagree? Wish to complain about me calling you a hippie? The comments are yours.

About the Author

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).