Jeff Greenhouse

Experienced Marketing & Analytics Executive

Social Media: If I Like you, you can have 12 seconds of my time.

Social Media: If I Like you, you can have 12 seconds of my time.

Hey Brand, you’ve got me! Your funny commercial, enticing sweepstakes and strong call-to-action has won me over. I “Like” you now. Let’s party! OK, party’s over. It’s been fun, but I’ve got other places to be. Other brands deserve my time too. There’s nothing wrong with you. I’ll check back in a few days or a week.

Every brand is rushing to have as dynamic and engaging a social presence as possible. They are setting up their social media team, launching their Twitter accounts and customizing their Facebook pages. That’s exactly what they should be doing now. If you’re a brand (whether consumer or B2B) and you aren’t opening up this key connection point to your audience, you are losing out. I just want to set some reasonable expectations from the audience side.

As a consumer, we are surrounded by brands from the moment we wake up till the moment we go to sleep. I just took a quick glance around my living room and counted at least 60 brands in the room (and probably missed a few). If I extended my inventory to the rest of the house, that number would swell by hundreds. If I turn on the TV or the computer, it will blow past 1,000, and that’s all without stepping out of the house. Outside are all the restaurants, businesses, destinations and organizations that fall into the mix as well.

Some brands, I couldn’t care less about. The fact that there’s a name printed somewhere on these products is meaningless to me. But with many of the others I actually do care. They’ve made it past the threshold of purchase so I clearly like the product and/or the company. These brands have a chance to build a relationship with me. Still, for that relationship to last, it is going to have to be pretty compact.

Let’s do some quick math. If there are 1,000 brands that get past my “likability” barrier (i.e. to the point that I would consider following them via social media), that’s still far too high a number to actually follow. If I drop the bottom 70% of them, and only follow the remaining 30%, that has me starting relationships with the 300 brands I like the best.

The next question is how much time do I plan to spend on/with them per day. I’m a busy person. I have a lot to do in my professional life as well as my family life. And let’s not forget that I have a lot of friends (more than ever thanks to social media). The day hasn’t gotten any longer just because Facebook and Twitter exist. I’ll be generous to the brands and offer them (cumulatively) a full hour of my day. I think that’s still a lot, but at least you can’t accuse me of being stingy to make my point.

So, after all of that, each brand that I “Like” can expect a whopping 12 seconds of my time on an average day. What’s more likely is that I’ll give some brands anywhere from 5 to 20 seconds (enough time to read one headline or spot a few Tweets). A few others may get 5 minutes or more because they have put out something particularly intriguing. Finally, many of my “liked” brands will be completely ignored for days, weeks or even a month.

If you’re a brand and you’re reading this, here are the main takeaways:

Grow that base - A thousand people who “Like” you does not equal a thousand daily interactions, so for your audience, size does matter. Capitalize on every opportunity to bring someone into the loop. Look at product packaging, documentation and sales collateral. Are they all working to establish connections?

Focus on quality - With so many outlets competing for my time and attention, I have neither time nor patience for low-grade content or useless noise. If you don’t have something with real value, you’re better off not saying anything. If I feel like my time has been wasted by low-quality content more than once, I’m much more likely to tune you out and ignore you in the future.

Respect my time - Show respect for our relationship by not bombarding me with too much. Each social channel has its own unique fingerprint and that affects our tolerance for frequency. Tweeting 100 times in a day is fine, but a dozen Facebook posts per day might wear out your welcome (especially if they aren’t high quality).

It’s good just to be in the room - Even if you can’t get me to engage at the level you’d like, believe me, there are benefits to floating across my field of vision on a regular basis. Yes, engagement is wonderful and powerful. It’s the new sweetheart metric of marketers, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t value to the familiarity and top-of-mind recognition that comes from repeated exposures.

That’s all I’ve got for today. I have brands to engage with and I’m running at least 12 seconds behind schedule. ;-)

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