Far too often, solopreneurs and other small business owners fall into what I call the warm bodies trap. It means that their marketing and promotion efforts are focused on simply accumulating warm bodies and not actually engaging, educating, building loyalty or encouraging sales. They spend time and effort focusing on building raw numbers, e.g. more followers, friends, fans, connections, etc without any regard as to whether this is a good idea or not.
Just to be clear, bigger numbers are usually good assuming the activity is a good idea in the first place. For example, if a Facebook fan page is a good strategy for your business then yes, generally having more fans is good assuming you can keep them happy and interacting. I’ve seen many examples where a business owner assumes that more fans is good period and doesn’t consider the quality or interest level of those fans.
How does this appear in real life? Here’s one example: I get many invitations from fan page owners to like their page during various online networking events. These invitations are often accompanied by the instruction that I should do so as my personal profile and not as my fan page. When I see this, it’s a clue that the page owner may be focused on raising their total number of likes and not the quality of the fans. As a page owner, I want you to like my page only if it’s relevant to you, and if it is, I want you to like it from wherever it will provide the most value to you.
Let me explain one thing about how I use Facebook – I try to keep my business and personal use separate. When I’m relaxing with a cup of coffee on a Sunday morning, I don’t want “work” information in my feed. I only want to see a few businesses that pertain to my personal interests, which means very few business pages are in my personal feed. On the other hand, when I have my work hat on I WANT quality business content that helps me and that is valuable to my community so I’ve liked a lot of pages from my business page. I regularly scan this when I’m in work mode looking for content to share or things that might help me. This is the kind of fan behavior that most page owners should value. If I honor that request and like a page relevant to my business from my personal page, the page owner will get a fan in me that pretty much never sees their content when it would be valuable and appreciated.
The warm bodies trap is found elsewhere too. People who spam every person who ever gave them a business card with a newsletter is one example. Yes, the total count of warm bodies increases but the open rate will drop and people who don’t want to be subscribed or don’t know they have been are more likely to report the newsletter as spam (and yes, this is spam as defined by spam laws). On LinkedIn, I get the dreaded connection request from someone who says we are “friends” even though I’ve never met them much less heard of them. Then there are offers to get you huge numbers of fans, followers, connections, etc for a set (usually small) price.
Don’t treat real, thoughtful people like mere numbers or warm bodies. It feels really yucky to be treated this way, and it lowers my opinion of people who do it. Yes it’s good to have big numbers but only when you earn them by treating the people represented by those numbers right.
How do you grow your reach in your business and make sure your community members feel values? Tell me about it in the comments.