Business Social Media: A Celebrity-Free Zone

There's a new list out this week that ranks the most popular celebrities on social media based on fans and followers on the largest social networks with Justin Bieber edging out Lady Gaga for the top spot.  And we're talking about millions of followers and billions of page views. (Insert your own Mayan Calendar joke here.) The real lesson here for those of us over the age of 13 is that if you're promoting a company or brand on Facebook and Twitter you're probably envious, frustrated and wasting your time on the wrong things.

Pop stars in fact dominate social media holding eight of the Top 10 spots most with 30 million plus Facebook fans and Twitter followers. And that's because they are using the medium the way it was designed.  Though I am the father of a teenager who has hundreds of teenage friends, I have yet to meet a Justin Bieber fan — but he seems like a nice kid and see no reason to begrudge him. His handlers know who his target market is and where and how to reach them through social media. Goofy hairstyles, bubble gum lyrics, and a multinational successes; the pop stars have gotten social media figured out.

I'm not suggesting businesses stop using social media to promote their brand; I'm asking they stop using it incorrectly. As the mad rush to get more followers and fans travels through the business world these statistics on social media leaders should act more as a wake up call to companies to change the way they look at the purpose of social media. It's businesses that are using it wrong, mistaking popularity for brand loyalty. You see not only are your social media efforts never going to achieve that kind of success. Let me bottom line it for you: you're not going to get millions or even thousands of fans or followers, nor should you try.  Use it instead to prod and prompt purchases, cultivate loyalty, and stay top in mind. Period.

I think of a recent incident in a crowded Starbucks near my home where I was on line with the Mayor of my city, and one of the greatest Major League Baseball pitchers of all time. More people said hello to me than the two "celebrities." That's because "celebrity" is relative and my offline social media is done through genuine interest in my surroundings and interacting within my community.

Social media is perfect for celebrities just the way it is and the usage is pretty straightforward. For businesses, the road to success will take significantly more work and ingenuity to make inroads. You need to learn how your customers and prospects want to interact with you — both online and off. Do so correctly and consistently, and you may just become a star in their eyes.

Article first published as Social Media for Business: No Celebrities Allowed on Technorati.


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