Dave Kerpen, author of “Likeable” and CEO of Likeable Media, published a detailed exploration of a variety of companies’ social media presence as a way of guiding the struggling netizen to optimize their marketing and advertising within the various social networks. It is the prime example of what Nancy Baym refers to as social shaping in her book, Personal Connection in the Digital Age. Facebook’s affordance of the “page” repurposed its daily use for the company, now able to create a community amongst its consumers. If successful, the company could profit greatly. Kerpen begins his lesson by showing a personal example of how one tweet made him a new customer at The Rio Hotel, which translated to $600 profit for them. (Kerpen 1)
Kerpen focused his argument through teaching the art of online conversation. Rather than attempting to broadcast a company’s message to the largest reach and frequency, “it’s about tapping into the conversation, listening, engaging, and empowering” the right target audience (Kerpen 9). Kerpen approaches every lesson with real-life anecdotes of the classroom, dating, shopping experience, and drawing a parallel for our personal and digital interaction. Kerpen promises that by the end of the book, the reader should have the knowledge to make their company the “the coolest person at the social media cocktail party” (Kerpen 23). He even provides the reader with sets of “Action Items” within each chapter to get started on their own platform but frequently contradicts the helpfulness by claiming, “It’s rare that you could ever give away so much information that people could afford to do everything on their own” (Kerpen 131). It seems by providing his reader with an overwhelming 18 strategies requiring months of daily hard work is only accomplishable by a social media consultant. Kerpen hopes companies will just throw in the towel and hire Mr. Likeable himself. Well Kerpen, take this as a compliment, by just picking the necessary, applicable advice, the reader’s don’t need any immediate costly help and I’ll prove it.
My mother, Debra Levinson, was stuck on the latter side of the digital divide for quite some time and even fell victim to an unsuccessful push marketing strategy by purchasing click-through ads on Facebook with no return of investment for her company, Italy Luxury Family Hotels. The link brought her potential clients to her website but had no way of capitalizing on the viewers not looking to book a trip immediately. Since Facebook is not about broadcasting advertisements but rather about human interaction, it is more important for her to connect with her target audience and eventual build trust for her brand within the online community. The first lesson applicable to Italy Luxury Family Hotels: The like is more important than the “link” (Kerpen 53). Rather than bringing one potential client to your website, it introduces and endorses your company to every one of that person’s friends. After all, a friend’s recommendation is more powerful than any ad. It is simple word-of-mouth marketing – a friend’s like builds trust.
Kerpen provides his readers with the knowledge needed to pinpoint your key audience with precision such as hypertargeting – “in which a company gears marketing and advertising efforts towards a specific group through individuals’ social media profiles, activities, and networks” (Kerpen 25). Companies could search for their target audience through common interests on Facebook that creates what Hugo Liu refers to as individuals taste statements. An authentic company profile would attract authentic Facebook users. For Italy Luxury Family Hotels that could mean seeking out users who have publicly liked everything from “Wine Tasting,” “Horseback Riding,” “Sunflowers” to even “Infiniti Pools”. As Boyd and Ellison would bring to attention, this is the amount of “rich sources of naturalistic behavioral data” available to anyone looking. Once finding your target audience, social media provides you with further insight on these groups and allows you to bring them into your conversation. The second lesson applicable to Italy Luxury Family Hotels: Think and act like the consumer. If thinking like the consumer, you know what makes a post “buzz-worthy, talk-able,” and something that will make the user say “Wow!” (Kerpen 153) This can be anything from a beautifully timed photo, a mouth-watering menu, or even a special event invitation. Kerpen definitely emphasizes the value of a like but does not tell his readers how to go about obtaining them. The answer is the sharing affordance. If a current fan shares one of your posts on their profile page, it comes up on their friends’ newsfeeds, thus simultaneously promoting your company and expanding your reach. This will begin to activate your dedicated followers and create brand ambassadors.
Making a comparison to Doanth and Boyd’s work, “Public Display of Connections,” brand ambassadors are like your company’s strong ties, fans/followers are your weak ties and all their friends are your latent ties waiting to be reached out to. Slowly but surely your company’s likes will start adding up and you can begin to become more engaging with your audience, asking questions not just for crowdsourcing but by humanizing the company, making it talk-able. “You can certainly follow the rules to look more engaged but until you are more engaged, you run the risk of being known as only feigning interest in your customer base.” (Kerpen 66) Your company’s authenticity is necessary for long-lasting relationships. The third lesson applicable to Italy Luxury Family Hotels: Listen and respond to comments. It is important to remember that not responding at all is a response in itself. If potential clients are going to be asking questions, posting concerns, or simply expressing their approval and showing support, they want to know that they are being heard. That brings me to Kerpen’s do-not-delete rule. “If your company is not prepared to embrace the good, the bad and the ugly, then social media generally isn’t right for you now.” (Page 75) It is also important to keep timing in mind. You do not need to hover above your technology, refreshing your page for every new post. I guarantee that with more than one client, even Kerpen does not have the time for that. However, make sure to check periodically throughout the day. Potential clients will stop interacting with your page if they do not expect a quick response.
There you have it, Mom. No need to waste your money. If you can follow those three simplified steps to get yourself started, than you will be well on your way to building a presence and community for Italy Luxury Family Hotels. Then the next time a potential client is searching for a “5 Star Hotel in Rome” and your Facebook page comes up, your conversations, large following, and of course expertise will buy their loyalty.