Strategy What is an insight?

Illustrator: Ihar Turtsou
We work in an industry laced with buzzwords [...]

Design Forgiving a pretty face

In the late spirit of Valentine’s day, I’ve been thinking [...]

Digital Responsivenessicity

Illustrator: Bailey Bremmers (Design Apprentice)
A few years ago it [...]

Culture #GripLabLive – Elias Theodorou

Grip Associate Partner and MMA fan Ben Weinberg sat down [...]


Big Orange Slide

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Chasing likes (and other social media mistakes)

February 9, 2012 by Andrew Cherwenka

Illustration by Josiah Bilagot

With 1 of every 5 online minutes being spent on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, ad agencies and marketers are scrambling to get their brands into the social party. While some of us are pushing our way in by employing the same 1-way mass tactics used in TV and print, others have swung too far the other way, blindly chasing likes and fan counts. Both approaches miss out on social media’s true potential and they most often point to 3 all-too-common mistakes in thinking.

Believing Content is Still King

Sure, great content delivered in the proper context still delivers reach and frequency in whatever mass channels we pursue, including digital. Smart online ad spends and compelling sites and videos can drive big metrics. But this carry-over mentality from the GRP days of TV falls short in social media. Generating engagement scores on content in our brands’ social pages and profiles isn’t a lofty enough goal.

Chasing Views, Likes, and Comments

A Facebook fan simply watching our video or reading a brand post is a lost opportunity. Even comments, likes, and app engagements aren’t enough since propagation from these actions is limited mostly to the ticker. They’re valuable metrics in an ongoing social strategy and a skilled Community Management team can do wonders building and growing a brand’s presence with these goals in mind, but our creative thinking shouldn’t stop there.

Most Facebook time is spent on personal profiles and news feeds—not on brand Pages as we’d like to believe. True social media success lies in an agency’s ability to get brand content into those news feeds, and this happens best when fans talk directly to their friends on our brands’ behalf. Facebook is actively educating agencies in how to think Social By Design, making a fan’s friend network an integral part of the experience. Put another way, if a fan has zero friends and the app or campaign still works then it doesn’t belong on Facebook. The real goal is to get people to include brand content in their own conversations with their friends, which leads us to mistake #3…

Thinking We’re Part of the Conversation

People chat socially with their friends. Not with brands. They may write the occasional response to a brand post or start a thread on their favorite brand’s wall but it’s still all about them. As agencies the best we can hope for is to inject ourselves at the right time to provide value and let people know we’re there. Like a parent in a big crowd of kids, we want them to know we support them but we know we’ll never really be a part of their conversation. Throw in a timely comment, add value with some relevant brand news, or respond when they ask something—be properly engaged—but understand it’s their time with their friends. It isn’t about us or our brands.

Look to campaigns like Huggies Hong Kong (sharing baby photos with friends) and 1-800-FLOWERS (telling your friends which flowers you like the best) for some recent effective examples. Getting our clients’ brands into news feeds doesn’t have to be a complex or expensive investment. But if done right it can lead to unprecedented reach and advertising success in an increasingly social online world.

In addition to his full time role as Group Director at Grip, Andrew is also a Huffington Post columnist providing digital-related advertising insights. A modified version of this post and others can be found at

1 Comment on "Chasing likes (and other social media mistakes)"

  • Ben
    February 16, 2012 @ 11:32 am

    Definitely important to note that, while content itself may no longer be “king”, it is still an important aspect of the mix. Ads and such with little or nothing content-wise to back them up aren’t as effective.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.