Social Networks Need A ‘Constant Gardener’ To Grow And Sustain Them


This article first appeared in The Media Online in February 2011. Some of the statistics are outdated. It is incredible to note how much has changed in three years. It is also depressing to note that so few companies have truly embraced Social Media.

Media Online Intro: Amanda Patterson explores the reasons why some celebrities and brands are so successful on social networks and why others just haven’t made the grade. Social networking, she says, needs a ‘constant gardener’ to grow, water and sustain them, and allow them to thrive.

Seventy out of every 100 people who join Facebook never leave. Thirty out of every 100 people who join Twitter continue tweeting. Anyone who is serious about business has a LinkedIn Profile. Facebook requires patience, charm and innovative thinking. Twitter requires wit, and an authentic voice. LinkedIn requires an honest up to date record of your work history. It also needs regular updating and referrals from satisfied customers.

Everyone wants to know the secret to social media marketing.

It’s simple. It’s also hard work. You have to create a personality for your brand. You have to give it a face, and a voice. Literally. You have to choose a real person. This person can be someone in your company, or someone you believe personifies your brand.

However, it would be wise to avoid using the usual suspects.

Musicians, screen and radio personalities do not always translate successfully into social media networks. These artists may have only been famous for the way they look or the way they sing or talk. Social media networking requires more than this.

The usual suspects also rely on their employers, their existing platforms and publicists to bring their audience to them. They are not necessarily innovative and creative.

Most radio presenters, actors and musicians work through agents or managers. Mostly they are unaware of how these new media work. In all honesty it would damage their careers if they were let loose without supervision on the internet. It would also be commercial suicide for their sponsors.

It is interesting to note that Talk Radio 702 has only 3 094 members in its Facebook group. Redi Tlhabi has 2 386 members in her group. Other presenters have 100 – 300 members. The Parlotones have a few hundred members, as do Freshly Ground.

Why these low figures?

  1. Firstly, the dedicated television viewers and radio listeners are growing old. They are not young enough to understand social media.
  2. Secondly, these presenters, and performers, have producers who script shows for them. They need direction and are largely reactive.
  3. Thirdly, the Internet needs constant ‘gardeners’ who create and grow their online personalities. These ‘celebrities’ do not, and in some cases, cannot, do this. An Internet audience can feel the lie when publicists do it on their behalf.

This is worrying for advertisers. Most consumers with a higher LSM (Life Style Means) spend significant amounts of time on the Internet.

Some celebrities like Trevor Noah with 494 300 fans and Gareth Cliff with 276 105 fans have crossed the divide. Why? They are multi-talented. Not just famous for a voice or a look. They often write their own material, think on their feet, and entertain us. They are perfect for social media.

They are the constant gardeners.

Social Media is networking. It has levelled playing fields. You do not need a huge budget. If you choose the correct personality to represent your product you will succeed. If that personality is able to attract ‘fans’, post interesting content and inspire them to want more, your customers will follow.

Allow consumers into your world and headspace. Remember that consumers don’t just want to buy a product. They want to be courted and tempted into making the decision.

The most successful companies place social media marketing at the heart of their business. They find online social media personalities with an established following to promote their product and woo an audience.

Where will you find your ‘constant gardener’?”

First posted 14 February 2011

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