Are social media engagement strategies condescending and crass?
In the rush for more Likes, Comments and Shares on Facebook, it's tempting to dumb down.
But could underestimating your fans backfire, or even damage your brand?
"If you like the Olympics - Like us!"
We've all seen them. They are blatant, unashamed and pushy. They provide a spurious and pointless reason for you to share the Page with your friends and they make you wonder who has the time to peddle such nonsense.
Do they really work, though, and what effect do they have on your brand?
Since the adoption of Facebook by brands, a panoply of engagment marketing techniques have emerged. Some seemingly stupid ideas, such as Heineken's offer to blow up a balloon for every new fan, have attracted thousands of new fans and been genuinely engaging. But a question remains over less creative tactics.
Nescafe, for example, recently held a polls to ask their fans: "How do you hold your NESCAFÉ mug?" with optional answers (a) left hand (b) right hand (b) both hands, or (d) I use a straw. While Skoda, a brand with a strong pedigree of smart advertising, asks its fans "When was the last time you washed your ŠKODA?".
Although seemingly mind-numbing to the average person, the Nescafe poll attracted over 1,500 responses and the Skoda question received over 1500 Likes and 150 comments.
As Dom Dwight, who manages the highly successful Facebook Page for Yorskshire Tea, said at Facebook Marketing London in July, "It's the light-touch posts that really work", citing a single post that simply said: "Time for a proper brew. Who's with me?" which generated hundreds of Likes, Comments and Shares.
It seems that within a loyal fan-base, even the most mundane of requests can trigger an avalanche of word-of-mouth referrals. Perhaps it's how you go about it that matters. It may well be possible to draw a line between light-touch but brand-related posts, which are more acceptable, as opposed to completely unrelated and cynical ploys, like many of the Olympics examples we witnessed during the summer.
Yet the backlash to dumbing down has started. Jon Morter, best known for his amazing Rage Against the X-Factorcampaign, recently launched a Facebook Page devoted entirely to the cause of outing condescending and crass Facebook engagement tactics. The page features a Wall of Shame where fans are invited to share examples of blithering and pointless posts they've seen on the network.
It makes for hilarious, if painful, reading for many brands and makes you wonder how many people are put off Liking (or un-Like) brands as a result of seemingly condescending or cynical ploys to lure them into engaging.
Are these examples of companies simply talking to customers in friendly, every-day terms - after all, there's probably a limited number of truly interesting things you can say about instant coffee or tea-bags - or will consumers gradually get wise to "engagement tactics" and switch off altogether, just as they have with advertising?