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How Many “Likes” Does it Take to Get to the….?

Today’s guest post is provided by Kaity Nakagoshi, who is writing for The University of San Francisco, in partnership with University Alliance. University Alliance submitted this article on behalf of The University of San Francisco’s online program. The University of San Francisco provides all the tools and resources necessary to gain an advanced social media certification online. For further information please visit http://www.usanfranonline.com.

Everyone remembers that classic commercial for Tootsie Roll Pops where the wise owl answers the mind boggling question “How many licks does it take to get to the center of the Tootsie Pop?” Well, though most dictionaries have not added a new definition for “like,” this little word carries resonant social meaning for both small businesses and large companies. When people click “like” on a Facebook page or button, they are essentially signing up for ongoing interactions with that page and the company that created it. Not all companies have achieved success in gaining a million plus followers on Facebook, but studies show that users who like a page are more likely to purchase a product from that company. Additionally, consumers are more likely to remember social ads over non-social ads. Elite social media campaigns demonstrate creativity and knowledge of how to engage online customers. For those who are not supported by massive financial backing, there are other ways of getting “liked.”

The most popular companies on Facebook include McDonalds, Redbull, Starbucks, Disney and Coca-Cola. These industry giants have from ten million to thirty-four million fans respectively. How have they done it? McDonalds uses an annual “Monopoly” contest. Those who lose can enter for a second chance to win by becoming a fan. Associating its brand to extreme sports and featuring videos of athletes, Redbull has achieved social popularity.  Similarly, Disney promotes upcoming films with video clips on its Facebook page. Starbucks allows people to manage their Starbucks cards online and search for nearby locations. Finally, the most “liked” company, Coca-Cola, offers games, videos, e-greeting cards, downloads and screensavers. To access these features, users must become fans.

Demonstrating a truly unique approach, Ford chose to reveal its 2011 Ford Explorer through a Facebook-based promotion. Rather than putting energy into a real auto show, as is the normal method, Ford braved new waters by opting for a virtual auto show. This was a well-planned, all day event with the goal of reaching 50 million people through digital marketing. As a result, on that day Ford was the #1 trend on Twitter and #2 on Google. The Ford Explorer won the “North American Truck of the Year” award.

If you have a smaller company with a home business blog or website, you can make one simple change to the site in order to get started with your social media campaign. Search for “Facebook Social Plugin” and add this feature to your site. The plugin can help increase your number of Facebook fans and provides you with user feedback. Remember that a user who interacts is an invested user. There are many other ways to use social marketing as well. For instance, even a small business can follow Cola-Cola’s example and offer incentives to get new fans. Try providing daily tips, special offers or links to popular new pages you have added. You can also link your Facebook page to Twitter to help transfer over your Twitter followers.

As you tap into social media, remember that being “liked” is about much more than having someone click a button. You want to create genuine, memorable experiences so that your users not only “like” you, they refer you to their friends. For example, Pringles Australia created an application which allowed users to enter a competition to create the ultimate party. Fiorelli’s showed that a luxury brand could enter the mainstream. They developed an app which allows people to choose their handbag, paste it onto their profile picture, and show it to friends before purchasing.  Whether or not you have the means to create an app, you want to engage people in ways that respond to their real, everyday lives. Providing an unforgettable experience is what it’s all about.

Even a local charitable organization can benefit from social media. A food bank in California created an excellent model. A for-profit company donated $15,000 and “challenged” the food bank’s fans to match it. To like, comment or follow on Twitter, users were asked to donate between $2 and $5. As a result the $15,000 was matched and the campaign was highly successful – viral social media campaigning at its best.

As social media continues to grow and change, companies will respond to the new business opportunities that arise. Creative social campaigns can help companies gain and maintain large-scale popularity. From industry giants to sole proprietors, being liked has never been so crucial. It’s not just a popularity contest anymore. It’s survival of the fittest.

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