15 Dec 2015

Right Back at ‘Ya! The Dangers of Reciprocal ‘Liking’

‘Liking’ and ‘sharing’ is now considered a staple part of any social media management marketing strategy and its importance is widely recognized by any Calgary marketing company, but have we gone too far with ‘tried and tested’ strategies – or even not far enough.

Most social media platforms were born into the personal arena and the etiquette went – ‘I like you, you like me back’. Twitter and Facebook are classic examples if this. Amassing followers and initiating engagement became the indicators of success, which then ultimately became the goal. Reciprocal ‘liking’ became an easy way to ‘cash in’ and gain traction in social media platforms so when businesses began to catch on that social media was a great way to market to a target audience, they embraced the easy solution of encouraging reciprocal liking. Even social media management strategies were built up around it. That was five years ago… and much has changed since then.

Reciprocal liking became so popular that it quickly became ineffective. It doesn’t take much to work out that if you have 3,256 followers and you follow 3,003 that there is a fair amount of reciprocal liking going on and the followers have no real business use.

What’s so wrong with reciprocating?

Many Twitter accounts, and to a lesser degree Facebook, will offer a, ‘Follow me and I’ll follow you’ deal, which is OK if it’s personal account as no one really cares who or what you’re interested in. But for a business it’s essential you keep your contacts professional.

A buyer’s research usually includes a search on social media, which at first glance may mean you are at a disadvantage with only 800 followers as opposed to your competitions at 5,780. Further inspection will soon clear that up as one glance at your home feed, which includes articles about ground breaking innovation in your industry, congratulations on a recent success or upcoming release speaks volumes about your company ethos, whereas your competitors feed that is advertising dodgy claims about snake oil that will cure your rheumatism and pictures of the everything bagel Lulu the lap dancer has just eaten, speaks volumes about theirs.

Reciprocal liking achieves only one thing – clogging up your live feed with things that just aren’t important. This sheer morass of irrelevant information makes it very hard to sift through things that are business focussed and extract them for reposting and can add huge amounts of wasted time on social media. The one thing that social media needs is social media management, and any decent Calgary marketing company will tell you that you cannot manage an infinite amount of content, so making the process sleek and minimalist is the way to go.

Reciprocating backwards

Employing the tactics of reciprocal linking in most cases actually works against you. After the first flush of ‘look how many people think I’m worth following’, the pride soon gives way to embarrassment as those people get involved with your feed.

A business account social media feed is like a secret window into your company brand. Everything it produces should be developing your brand or it’s working against it. The things that you allow on your account are essentially things that are endorsed by your brand. Social media has a large amount of transparency which you have no control over. If you like it, everyone can see, so you have be very selective in who you like or follow. Many reciprocal liking accounts are personal and can convey any political, social or denominative expression they have. If you have liked that account it will link your company to that expression, and mistakes can be costly.

One thing reciprocal linking always does is lose you credibility. No business likes to deal with a cheater, especially one that blatantly manipulates media without trying to justify its manipulation – as if you can find a way to justify it. Collecting followers for that sake of it is pointless. It gives an overall amateurish feel to your marketing and that you really don’t care about the opinion of your audience at all, as long as you have a following of … whoever.

Paying the price…

Further to reciprocal liking, you buy follows. This has become such an epidemic that social media platforms will penalize companies that do this, which can get you blacklisted and in the case of Google, means all your accounts would be frozen, including any email accounts. The risk is just way too high for the return.

Once you are known for such low marketing goals as reciprocal liking it’s really hard for a consumer to get that image out of their mind. With the plethora of options available online they don’t need to ‘bear with’ anyone until their ‘problems’ are corrected, so the solution is not to create the problems in the first place.

Before you think about clicking the ‘follow’ button linked to any old social media account, think about your social media management strategy. Is this ‘like’ moving your company brand forward? What resources will you gain from it? What impression does it give your target audience? All these questions matter if you value your company image.

In the Calgary marketing company community common advice is to take some time each quarter to go through your likes and follows to see if it needs purging. Things change. Someone that was an ally last month may not be so close this month, or maybe the information they are posting is no longer relevant. It can prevent future headaches if you do.

Reciprocal liking is a danger to be avoided, but don’t let that stop you from forging links with those that can help further your business goals. Don’t be afraid – just be cautious. One look at the people they follow will tell you what their business ethos is, so take the time to make the right connections.

What are you waiting for? Go make the right connections now!

Resources:

http://stephenchukumba.com/2012/09/14/like-me-and-ill-like-you-back-reciprocity-social-media-style/

http://socialmediafuze.com/10-backlink-strategies-business/

http://arcreactions.com/what-makes-an-exceptional-calgary-marketing-company/