So given that Facebook is increasingly becoming the benchmark by which brands, and frankly most people, use to determine how popular and worthy they are, it only seems pertinent to have a look at how the big hitters (sponsors) did during the Olympics…am I allowed to say Olympics or will I get sued by the IOC? …during the summer of sport.
The data is published by the Wallblog and makes for interesting reading. The Facebook gold medal winner with a massive 150% increase in fans is Visa, with Coca-Cola, British Airways and Cadbury all doing very well. Oddly…or reassuringly, despite building the world’s largest fast food restaurant slap bang in the middle of the park, McDonalds saw only a modest increase in fans. Perhaps Facebook popularity is one area of life where there is no real value in bricks and mortar.
For me what is interesting, more than the numbers, is that these type of statistics are being reported and what brands – and people – are supposed to do with the information. What strategy did the aforementioned brands have for increasing the number of fans – how much do they care? How much should any of us care? According to the original post, Visa – our gold medallist – posted no content to their fan page during the games. Were they just playing it cool, not wanting to come across all desperate and needy, or are Visa above all that – and who the hell were all these fans? I don’t really understand why anybody would want to be seen as a fan of a credit card unless they were offering to clear my balance if I liked their page…Visa weren’t.
With an estimated 83 million fake profiles on the platform how much can any brand know about their so called fans, but does it really matter? Along with Twitter followers for sale on eBay perhaps it demonstrates that all that really matters are the numbers. How many fake fans does it take to start generating ‘real’ fans? And what if you are a struggling brand trying to get that ethereal buzz going, how tempting is it to buy a few cheeky fake followers just to get the ball rolling – Mitt Romney has apparently had a go, and Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps has employed the cruder and presumably more time consuming method of bulk following people, only to un-follow them if they don’t follow him back.
Are fan numbers and followers a new form of penis envy? Without fans, without followers, we are nothing – we are not an important part of the global conversation – we don’t matter and nobody will buy our products, use our services, vote for us, or enjoy the fascinating and hilarious commentary we have to offer. Clearly the examples above demonstrate that some people are willing to go to extreme, and perhaps quite sad, lengths to appear more popular. It all feels rather like being back at school.
I think…I hope…that in the end you still need to have substance, something actually worth being a fan of, but the stats, stories and economy now springing up around popularity generation, demonstrate that we live in a digital world where image is more important than ever and being popular is a prerequisite for any emerging brand.
Oh by the way if you want to ‘like’ the Facebook page for my film production company, you can do it here http://www.facebook.com/cottageIndustryFilms …no pressure.