06/11/10

Social Currency...

Recently the whole world seems to go nuts over "Facebook fans", "Twitter followers" and all the other signs of wondrous consumer love. The common notion is that consumers aren't merely users of your product or service anymore but that they have to become fans, lovers and/or evangelists of your brand (which is not your brand anymore anyway - but that's another story). Which makes me wonder: What does it actually mean when you have a "fan" on Facebook? How does this fan translate into real business (or whatever other meaningful metric your business has)? I bet - little. Fast Company (not my favorite business magazine as they seem to rather mindlessly jump on all the latest trends) recently published an interesting article: "Five Steps for Consumer Brands to Earn Social Currency" -- arguing that the sole notion of buzz, fans and followers is rather meaningless on it's own.  They go on and state "Not every brand should be social" and "Social tools are a means, not an end". So far so good.  But - in the same magazine they run a story about Mekanism, a buzz marketing/social media agency, hailing their business and how they help brands build followers and fans.  The article goes on to point out achievements such as "[…] hired Mekanism to double Del Taco's 20,000 Facebook fans" - 20,000 Facebook fans to what end??? Especially disturbing is the example of Toyota's Matrix campaign, which basically encouraged people to unleash a stalker attack on their friends. The campaign resulted in "[…] a woman had filed a lawsuit against Toyota and Saatchi stating she'd feared for her life and had resorted to sleeping with a machete under her pillow."  The article goes on to hail the fact that the campaign drew 4 million visits (again: to what end?). 4 Million visits and at least one person suffering severe mental trouble (I guess that's what you call collateral damage). Maybe I just don't get it… Update: Patricia Clausnitzer translated my blog post into Belorussian - read it here.