Millennials, those folks who are currently between the ages of 18 and 29, are the core of Facebook’s audience. They were born into the social media era and as such, have become accustomed to checking Facebook for everything from world news to what their friends are up to. But where do they stand with Facebook brand pages, you ask?
Keep on reading, because I’ve got the answer courtesy of Dr. Tina McCorkindale, an assistant professor in Appalachian State University’s Department of Communication. Dr. McCorkindale and two of her colleagues conducted a survey of 414 Millennials and found out something you won’t want to hear.
75% said they had “liked” a profit or non-profit organization on Facebook, (wait for it. . . . ) but 69% said that once they “liked” the organization, they rarely or never returned to the fan page.
Ouch. Apparently a “like” doesn’t goes as far as it used to.
Why aren’t they returning to the page? Dr. McCorkindale has a theory:
“In public relations, one of the basics of what we do is build relationships to hopefully get individuals to engage in some sort of behavior. It’s clear that the 18- to 29-year-olds are not as invested in an organization as the organization may think they are when they click the ‘like’ button or click ‘follow.’ It’s fairly consistent in the research that Millennials like organizations that give something back to them.”
I believe this is right to a certain extent. First, we have to be clear about the concept of “giving something back.” This could mean a coupon or a free download, but it could also be information that’s interesting and relevant. Upcoming venue information on a band’s fan page isn’t a deal, but it’s a good reason to revisit the page.
Dr. McCorkindale has more to say on the subject:
“Instead of organizations trying to superficially push these relationships and superficially push ‘likes,’ they really need to understand the audience, build the relationship and engage the audience. If you are going to be out there in the social media sphere, you need to be listening, you have to answer the questions people ask of you through social media. If issues or questions go unanswered, that breaks the relationship. If they can’t manage the space, they really shouldn’t be using the space.”
Ouch, again. And normally, I’d be right there with her but in this case, I’m not sure that the lack of return visits is all on the brand. Since Facebook feeds me what it thinks I want to know right in my newsfeed, I don’t have to visit brand pages in order to engage. I can “like,” comment and read what they have to say without a return visit and isn’t that just as good?
As Facebook evolves and changes, the methods we use for measuring success must change, too. Counting “likes” is a start, but we all know that he with the most friends isn’t automatically a winner. Rising traffic to the page is a good sign, too. But what really counts is interaction and in the end, a hike in your bottom line. If you put up a Facebook page for your new book and you see a rise in book sales, does it matter if people visited the page or saw your updates in their feed or shared your updates with friends? No. What matters is, they saw your information and they acted on it. That’s the key to Facebook success — interaction with your audience.
So in that respect, Dr. McCorkindale is right. If you’re going to be on Facebook, you have to find a way to build relationships with your audience so they stay with you through the long haul.