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Be My Fan - Please?

by Doug Davidoff | Apr 14, 2009 9:44:10 AM


Early in my sales career I was given some of the worst advice ever - it nearly destroyed by career.  "It's a numbers game," I was told.  If I could rid the world of one destructive, commoditizing thought it would be that piece of advice.

This philosophy shows up in a number of places.  Most recently, it has shown itself as more and more businesses are turning to "social media" to drive the outreach programs.  As more and more small and mid-size business (SMEs) executives and salespeople are looking for new ways to stand out, they are experimenting with things like LinkedIn groups, Facebook pages and Twitter.  I applaud this effort - however, please stop demeaning yourself by begging and peddling for "fans." (For those that are not familiar with these tools, fans simply means people that decide to follow your posts and/or be alerted anytime you put something up on one of your pages.)

I've lost count of the number of requests I've received recently asking me - no, begging me - to become a fan or follower of their new endeavor.  This idea is clearly rooted in the idea that if more people are "fans", then you must be more successful.  In reality, this is just another example of modern businesses taking a quantity/volume approach over a quality/profit approach.  I am not impressed by the number of followers you have,nor is any reasonable person that I am aware of.  I am, however, impressed by the quality of followers you have.  One of the ways I judge that is by judging the quality of your content.

It's funny, I'm a big (BIG) Bruce Springsteen fan - seen him more than 30 times and I've got tickets to see him several more times this year, plus I've turned on hundreds of people in my life to his music - and he's never once asked me to become his fan.  He takes the harder route - he did (and continues to do) something great and I became a fan.  I've found this principle exists in business today - those that ask me to become a fan provide the least value; while those that provide great value never feel the need to ask.  The more we pursue fans (remember, that's short for fanatical) who are not really fans, the more we reduce the impact of having actual fans.  When that happens, no one is better off - actually, it's one of the reasons that marketing professionals are in the trouble they are in.

I guess it's human nature to look for the shortcut - the easier route.  Look getting people to click a button to become a "fan" is relatively easy - it's a lot harder to build a true fan base; a community of people who are connected to what you do and care - passionately - about what you and your company are.  It might look better to have thousands of people signed up to be your "fan" - but I'll take the few that really, truly care.