Okay, so you’ve shelled out a few bucks through Facebook Ads and promoted tweets. And to your liking, your business’ social handles have gained more fans and followers. But now what?

I get it. You want maximum fan reach. You want everyone using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc., to see your company’s brand and social presence. You’re with it. You understand that it’s 2013 and if you’re not using social media to accompany your brand’s identity, you pretty much don’t exist. At least according to the WWW.

Although your valiant efforts seem reasonable, they’re not practical. There are, unfortunately, some flaws in your implementation. What could they be?

  • Greed
  • Impatience
  • Laziness
  • Unrealistic Expectations

Just to name a few…

You think that by investing some green here and there you have successfully accomplished social media engagement. That’s where you’re wrong. Engagement is a form of communication, which requires a sender, a receiver, and, of course, the message. It’s interactive; but what happens when you forget about the receiving end? Essentially that’s what you’re doing when you solely rely on ads to promote your brand. You’re missing out on the conversation.

It’s time to put the wallet away and take advantage of something you use daily—your voice.

Fact. Ads are an amazing resource to get your name out there amongst a potentially attentive audience that might not be aware of their interest until you introduce yourself. It’s a great foot in the door, but once you’re in, you need to sell YOU a bit more. Otherwise you’re just using money to buy people’s “awareness” and “support.” Think about it. Is that the type of audience you want? Where’s the longevity?

People that actively partake in social media want to feel like they matter. They want their posts heard, questions answered, photos shared, comments liked, and tweets re-tweeted and favorite-ed. So if you’re not going to do this for them, who will? Probably the next active social account. And trust me, they will move on. They may have given you a “like,” but you quickly lost their respect, which translates to potential purchases and repeat consumers.

Working in this industry, one reoccurring fault I often see in people’s “social media strategies” is that they can’t look past the numbers. 5K likes aren’t enough. 10K followers aren’t enough. They seem to think that the higher, and quicker, the numbers accrue, directly reflects their efforts. Dollars do not equal efforts. Period.

So what’s wrong with waiting a bit and gaining people of value? What’s wrong with taking the road less traveled? What’s wrong with interacting with fans and engaging them with content to reemphasize your brand’s mission AND integrate promotions, events, and happenings?

I’ll tell you what’s wrong: nothing. Absolutely nothing. Organic growth is just as beneficial, if not more rewarding, than target advertising.

So what if you only have 500 fans without launching an ads campaign? Each of those 500 fans somehow learned about your company, without it popping up in their news feed, and gave you their trusted “like” because they genuinely like you. They really do. These are the guys that might actually come into your store (more than once) and make purchases. Share your products with friends. Encourage others to follow your social handles. Value your content. And trust YOU, the person behind the brand. And all of these actions come from a place of candid likeness. Not because it was an easy click tucked into their feed.

I moonlight in dining services, so what I like to compare this process to is Groupon. From the server standpoint, the main complaint you tend to have with Grouponers (affectionately named), is that they aren’t your quality guests. Meaning, they are only coming into your restaurant for two reasons: curiosity and to save money. Unfortunately, rarely would said person choose to experience something new without a coupon and now that they’re here, they’re going to order the cheapest thing on the menu for fear of surpassing their coveted “savings,” complain when things don’t match their unexpected expectations, then stiff you when the bill comes. Yes, one coupon-toting guest is better than none, but still, you get the point. There always is that pearl diner, though, that will surprise you. Yes, the Groupon brought them in, but with the help of your services they’re delighted, content, and will be back for more. However, you’ve got to shuck a lot of oysters to get to that pearl.

With organic social growth, every single one of those fans is a pearl.

Remember way back when in the early 2000’s when social media began to integrate into people’s daily lives? It was created for friend-to-friend engagement. It’s important to keep that in mind; social media is for friends. And friends don’t pitch friends. Existing across social platforms with one goal in mind, “sell, sell, sell,” isn’t going to attract quality consumers, nor assist in building your brand’s rep. You’re actually just demonstrating social faux pas and end up looking clueless, careless, and your “friends” will soon discredit your conduct.

So ask yourself, do you want the aimless Grouponer, or do you want the targeted, yet grateful and loyal, pearl?

Take the time to engage. Take pride in your efforts. Have fun with social. It might not pay off today. Maybe not even tomorrow. But over time you will recognize a highly devoted audience. And THOSE are your true fans.