There is a simple answer to the question above: we want both. What is not so simple of course is exactly what that really means.
With the bevy of tech conferences that have and will be continue to be going on throughout the past and coming weeks (SXSW, MWC, LWS, etc.), we’ve all been introduced to a host of startup companies all vying for their little slice of the public’s affection, and the truth of the matter is that many, if not most of them, will eventually fail.
While a sexy startup can attract plenty of attention from the public in a very short amount of time thanks to social media sharing, we’ve noticed that a surplus of followers doesn’t always equate to a long life in the tech industry.
Now, we certainly recognize the value of spreading the word about your company, and we’re not here to argue that getting hundreds of thousands of “likes” is a bad thing, but we do want to take a minute to think about what those “likes” actually mean. For an established company, say Coca Cola or Pepsi, Facebook likes are nice, but don’t really serve a purpose beyond providing the brand with one more stat to toss around. For startup companies, likes can help build a brand while providing marketing without having to spend money, however they also tend to be a bit over-valued. The main reason for this is that likes can get buried in a newsfeed (even with the new timeline format) and while they suggest that someone found something useful or interesting, these likes don’t actually represent any real connection they may have with the product or business.
In terms of Facebook a much more valuable strategy is striving to get people to share your content. Sharing is a much more personal means of spreading the word about something a person actually cares about, and immediately sparks conversation between not only current users and potential users, but users and the company itself.
The same philosophy applies to other social networking channels. Twitter is the obvious choice here as a bloated number of followers is often tossed around as an influential stat. What companies tend not to focus on however is who these followers are. If you run a startup company and you have 100,000 followers, you’re probably pretty excited. However if only 300 of those followers are actually interested in your product and the rest are just following because their friend retweeted a hilarious picture you posted, does it really help your business? This is why Twitter follower stats are the online marketing equivalent of hiring based solely on a resume: nice on paper but not necessarily true in practice.
So how do we solve this problem? Well there may not be a simple answer, but the one we like the most is to start conversations. While we love to see startups growing, we love it even more when we see startups building relationships with their customers. A great example of this was the social networking/design company Fab. When Fab saw its customer base ballooning, it launched an initiative to make customer support and interaction THE priority in its business model. Rather than sitting back and being enamored by the attention, the folks at Fab focused on building a product that was truly effective and creating a user experience that is extremely personal. The result has been Fab becoming one of the fastest-growing businesses on the web today.
Here at FiddleFly, we want to connect with users. Does that mean we want to shut our doors to the world and ask for a password through a tiny window? Of course not. What it means is that we want our followers to really be fans, and we want to be fans of our followers. This market is crazy exciting, and we never get bored talking about it, so we want to find people who are just as excited as we are.
To keep the conversations rolling, tell us what you think below, and if you’re interested in mobile web and all the amazing things it can be, follow us on Twitter @fiddlefly and check us out on Google+ and Facebook. Just be sure to keep in touch!