I Like You Is the New I Love You

“Will they or won’t they get together?” It’s a theme Hollywood has built an empire on and then ground to dust by the fourth season when every dedicated fan pleads “just get them together already.” By that point, most of us are wishing the show would end in a dramatic series of events like Romeo and Juliet. Just give us some finality to the story so we can get back to giggling manically at people getting hit by large padded swinging objects on Wipeout (Note: I don’t actually watch Wipeout, but I do make my wife replay the commercials over and over and over again). However, it’s the magic words “I love you” that drives the audience to wait for the big payoff. Those words reward the time and effort involved in watching twenty-two episodes and approximately 15 hours of insurance commercials a year just to see the main characters ride off into the sunset together. It’s the validation we’ll be rewarded with a happy ending rather than a conclusion of tragic love we learned about while drooling through the Shakespeare unit in high school English.

In social media, “like” has replaced “love” within the context of emotional validation. Like my Facebook update. Star my Tweet. Heart my Tumblr post. +1 my Google+ +thingy. Review my restaurant on Yelp. Check into my store on FourSquare. Enjoy my bamboo on Pandabook. Despise my minions on EvilGenuisSpace. It’s enough to give anyone validation exhaustion. It’s especially tiring when businesses expect it from us rather than friends or family and they are simply looking for the unrequited type of love.

“I’m the top garbage disposal distributor in the Northern Midwest Southeastern Region; follow me on Facebook to learn more.”

“We’ll cut your cat’s bangs just the way you want ‘em. We are the Twin Cities top hair salon for pets. Learn more on Twitter!”

It isn’t so much the volume of companies that want you to like them, it’s the volume of companies that want you to like them but fail to provide any value in return. Generally it’s repetitive status updates sharing a website link or the exact same tweet every day. Maybe it works for your business or maybe the one-way street method of communication is being ignored by current customers, or worse being passed over by your potential customers. While the tenants of direct marketing still apply to social media, it isn’t as tangible or front of mind as mailing a coupon. While I always have Twitter in hand (thanks to my smartphone), I don’t remember marketing messages for long. If your tweet doesn’t have an immediate impact, I’ve already moved on to the next one. I’ve probably thought a hundred times that something is cool, but it doesn’t stick in my head for more than five minutes because I’m not really engaged.

Social media needs to be interactive. You need to “like” your customers as much as you want them to “like” you. We can’t all be selling Ding Dongs or sneakers or the world’s most amazing fish tacos that can drive an unrequited relationship without customer interaction. So if you want to be successful on social media, you need to give your customers a reason to like you, and more often than not, it’s by letting them know that you like them too. I may have grown up in a Sam and Diane Cheers world, but I know Sam would have moved on to someone else well before the surprise end of season four. It’s the same thing for businesses. If you don’t give your potential fans or followers a reason to like you, they’ll pass you right over for someone else. If social media is a part of your marketing efforts, make sure you are directing those efforts in the right place—meeting your customer’s needs.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to get my cat’s hair cut before her audition for Feline Wipeout.

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One Response to “I Like You Is the New I Love You”

  1. Hosey says:

    Nice write-up Joel. Organizations that don’t provide anything of value in their interactions may as well not even open a Twitter/Facebook account. Even so, the number of people who will still “like” a lifeless corporate page while apparently getting nothing back demonstrates the lack of meaning in likes, favs, stars, etc. Or possibly this just shows how deeply brands and marketing have been embedded in our identities. depends on which way my cynicism is blowing.

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