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Fair Weather Political Supporters and Brand Fans September 14, 2011

Posted by christinapappas in Branding, Consumer Marketing.

deserted sidewalk

We have been having a bit of weather in Massachusetts over the past couple of weeks and in the meantime, local elections are coming up in my town. Why am I mentioning this? Well, I noticed something about the so-called political ‘fans’ and supporters; they don’t come out when it rains. Fair weather, sun, clouds, whatever, they are there adorning every street corner waving with one handle and holding their candidates sign in the other. But when it rains? Those curbs are a desolate land of nothingness.

I honestly hadn’t considered it before but it got me thinking about our so-called fans online. Is there such a thing as a true online fan/friend? Or are we here for a purpose when it’s convenient for us to do so and when it rains, well, we will just stay home?

Fan, Friend, Acquaintance, Social Contact, Colleague

Are there preconceived obligations to another person based on your relationship? Does a brand fan get treated different than a brand friend? Who defines the relationship and who is responsible for making it work?

Consider the fans of your brand. Why do people follow your company on Twitter? Why do they become a fan of your Facebook page? Why do they include you in their circle on Google+? Why do they take the time to check-in on Foursquare?

Are they in it for themselves or are they really supporting your brand?

I loved this post by Mack Collier who makes the statement ‘your Facebook fans are not the same as brand advocates.’ As I mentioned in the comments to Mack, I cannot believe I never looked at it this way but it’s so obvious. Facebook fans and brand advocates can overlap. True. But more than likely the brand fans you have on Facebook ‘liked’ you to get something or under the premise that they would be getting something at some point.

I understand the notion and the facts behind giving something away to gain a fan or follower but by giving away something like a free gift or exclusive discount just attracting fair weather fans? Where will these people be when your brand is not able to provide discounts? Are they going to wait out the rain with you or take cover?

If I was the politician running for mayor, I wouldn’t place my bets on how many people are holding my signs cheering for me in the sunshine, I would pay more attention to those who stand around me when it’s raining. Same goes for my brand. I am not going to get overly excited that I have 1000 more followers this month than last if not one of them is interacting with me or cares about the brand one way or the other. I want the fans that have endurance. The ones that love my brand and wear it on their sleeve.

I seek the brand fans that stand in the rain from time to time, not the ones that avoid it.



1. Mack Collier - September 15, 2011

Hey Christina! I think a lot of the problem is that most companies don’t know how to measure social media. So when they launch a Facebook page, they assume that getting more Likes = Success. When as you said, in many cases we simply Like a Facebook page to get a discount or deal. And thanks for the mention 😉

christinapappas - September 17, 2011

Hey Mack!

Thanks for stopping by. I have struggled with the purpose of a ‘like’ for some time now. What is the benefit to the brand? Does it help extend reach? Implement a rating system? As marketers, we get judged based on the ‘likes’ or page fans when we should be getting credit for the results.

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