After writing a recent blog that mentioned Matt Heath’s Hauraki radio show, I went to the show’s Facebook site to check out what content had been loaded and see how they handled updating the audience. While I was there, I clicked the “Like” button in a more-or-less distracted way, because I actually do like the show and wanted to be in the loop.

Later that afternoon, while scrolling through my Facebook feed, I saw a post from the show’s page, a post that was actually a little irritating. It wasn’t really all that different to much of the show’s on-air content but in this context, it got on my nerves. Why? Because when I listen to the show on the radio, I’m making a conscious choice to do so. I choose to invite Matt’s brand of humour and irreverence into my life at that exact point in time, but in the same way I don’t want him shouting jokes at me through my window while I’m sleeping at two in the morning, I don’t really want him popping up unannounced in my Facebook feed.

So I promptly “Unliked” the show’s Facebook page. Sorry Matt, it turns out that I’m selfish, so I like you when it suits me but need you to stay away the rest of the time (no reflection on you mate).

Which brings me to the point of this post. There’s a difference between a radio show promoting itself on Facebook and a company or brand doing the same thing but they’re both totally reliant on interaction, loyalty and above all, permission. How many people “Like” a brand in a social media environment based on nothing more than a vague good-natured feeling, only to later wonder why on Earth they did so? Do they immediately “Unlike” them as I did, or do they just leave them there, slowly losing interest in the posts and messages until they’re not even really noticing them? The messages eventually become part of a long series of irrelevant posts from “friends” they don’t actually care about.

The opposite side of this issue has me wondering how many companies or brands take great pride in their social media presence, trumpeting their many “Likes” as an ironclad guarantee that they’re hip and popular, and most importantly, that their social media presence is working as planned? Does it even matter? Isn’t just having a vast collection of “Likes” enough? 

Well, I’d have to ask how many of those “Likes” are real and come from a genuine passionate evangelism for the brand? The way Subaru WRX fans live and breathe their cars for example, or how Manchester United supporters would rather die than follow another team.

How many “Likes” are even loosely based on the kind of brand affinity that translates into sales? Are some or most of the company’s messages being seen as spam rather than personal, relevant and of course, anticipated? This is particularly germane when it comes to branding as opposed to calls to action – are companies communicating useful information, generating positivity and fostering a sense of connection, or are they just saying something for the sake of saying something?

One of the few companies that I like on Facebook enough to a) keep “Liked” and b) to read the posts is a small Auckland supplement and nutrition retailer. I’ve been a customer since 2000 and never been let down. In fact, I’ve always been treated as a valued client, not just a customer, so I am very definitely an evangelist and a fan. Their Facebook posts are relevant and anticipated (there are those words again) because they’re based around special offers and deals on products that I’m interested in.

So I genuinely liked the company long before I thought about “Liking” them on Facebook and they built on that goodwill by being great at what they do. Furthermore, their Facebook marketing is restrained and useful, never descending into a daily barrage of new product announcements, must have deals and spurious posts that are there just to say something, anything to the consumer. 

Now that’s a social media presence (albeit a very small scale one at this stage) that works for me, and for them – after all, it’s generated sales, with me picking up the phone moments after seeing a post. 

Less is always more when it comes to social media, unless you’re going big and running a well thought out and cleverly executed promotion that will generate serious involvement, passion and fun. Otherwise, stick with pertinent, valuable information rather than repetitive feel-good branding exercises and product announcements. Remember Rule #2 – don’t waste the consumer’s time.