Make Friends, Not Fans

15th Mar, 2013
by Matt Townsend

“Word of mouth is still the best form of marketing. Instead of thinking of all of the ways to reach your customers, think of all of the ways to improve your relationships with customers so they reach one another.”

Tara Hunt, HBR Blog Network, 4 September 2012

I’m not even going to try and capture the essence of this great piece by Tara Hunt, however what I will do is list a couple of key thoughts and trust that these will be enough to get you reading more from her.

“Make a customer, not a sale.” - Katherine Barchetti

Fundamentally, it's about asking the following question: "What is that thing we can do to help make our customers' lives simpler, less confusing, less alienating, more efficient, more meaningful and just plain better?"

What is the promise of the social web?  It's supposed to make our lives simpler, less confusing, less alienating, more efficient, more meaningful and just plain better. But sometimes it does the opposite. In fact, I'd say: more often than not, it does the opposite. When it becomes an escape from reality, rather than a positive change in reality, it becomes much like other forms of escape (movies, gaming, shopping, addictions), and it only temporarily relieves us of our daily pressures.

Followers and fans aren't a solution, they should be an outcome.  A large number of retailers have spent millions of dollars building stores on Facebook only to find that investment was a poor one. It's not that people don't shop on social networks, it's that people see social networks as a place to connect, create and build their own brands. Your brand's needs aren't why they are there.

These are ideas that I truly believe in – there is so much noise and fundamentally people don’t really care… our job is to figure out what we can do to reduce the noise, reach out to people on a level that counts and simply just make things just a little bit better.