Why no one wants to follow your company on social media.

Why no one wants to follow your company on social media.

I was on a flight from Lisbon recently, waiting for my meal when I took a second to actually read the napkin the flight attendant gave me for my drink (see the photo above). That got me thinking. Why? Why would I want to follow American Airlines on Twitter? Why would I want to like them on Facebook? The picture above says it all, really. Which, I mean, it says nothing. Even though I’ve been a loyal customer of their frequent flyer program for more than 20 years, they have failed to give me a compelling reason why I should do as their napkin marketing suggests. What’s the incentive for me to do so? Unless, of course, I have something to bitch about. Then, you bet your ass I would be all over them on social media until my problem is fixed. After that, I won’t care — even as a frequent flyer of theirs.

This is a perfect example of a problem most companies are having with their social media team asking you to become a part of their networks. Most companies don’t give anyone a compelling reason to follow them, like them, or even care about them. It’s one thing for friends to follow friends, celebrities, or special areas of interest. But brands? No way. Brands are the ugliest person at the bar. Brands have to work harder to get someone to pay attention to them, let alone want to date them. And even when brands get someone to be a part of their social-media program they have to work even harder to keep each person interested in paying attention to them. Otherwise, a brand’s followers are disinterested at best and leave the network at worst.

I penned the draft for this post on the plane. And as irony would have it, I left the airport by getting into a BlueSky van that would take me to my car, and there it is…an ask to “Like” them on Facebook with an incentive for me to do so. I couldn’t have found a more perfect example to demonstrate my point. Nice job BlueSky.

So, what can we learn from American Airlines’ failure? One, give me a reason to want to engage with your brand. Tell me I could get discounts on tickets. Tell me that by following you on Twitter I could get a free drink on the plane. Tell me you hand out random rewards for people who check in on Facebook at an airport. Two, keep me interested by showing me content that is relevant to me. Sure, I don’t mind getting the occasional sales pitch on ticket sales; I want to find ways of making places on my bucket list attainable. Show me how to do that or at the least provide the content that compels me to want to travel with you. That’s not hard, it just takes some time to do it. Heck, American Airlines could just partner with a company like Afar to do it. And lastly, take the time to learn about me. Send me a survey. Ask me how my recent flight was? Ask me why I dumped your credit card program after 20 years (true story here). Just show me you care a little and don’t treat me like a number.

Do you see the subtext here? Brands on social media have to treat their audiences as if they are in a relationship — because they are. Treat the relationship well and it grows. Ignore it and it goes away.

A shot from inside the BlueSky shuttle bus.

A shot from inside the BlueSky shuttle bus.

Content Psychology 101: Why we use what we use.

Content Psychology 101: Why we use what we use.

How to tell when your customer experience needs an update.

How to tell when your customer experience needs an update.