Too much love?
“Too much love will kill you,” sang Freddie Mercury, “Just as sure as none at all.” One of Queen’s lesser records to be sure, but still wise words from the much-missed moustachioed-one. How much love is too much? It’s a question brands need to think about as they pursue the holy grail of “engagement” with their consumers.
I always think of brands in the social media space the same as I would of friends. You have to – that is, after all, what they are trying to be. And just like “those” friends on your facebook feed – the one with too many status updates, too much fishing ( "Bad day :-(" ) or banal commentary – it’s now very easy to mute them, or even in a brand’s case (where you may have less political investment in keeping them as a friend) removing them entirely from your network.
Then there is the other extreme true of both people and brands on social media – they are only there because they feel they have to be, maintaining a presence but not saying or offering anything. In an age where people have a heightened sense of paranoia about their online privacy, you could be forgiven for questioning what a brand is doing. Are they silently stalking their consumers? Storing up profiles and information? Or indeed, are they even there at all anymore? The social media space is littered with out-of-date and unused brand profiles, which arguably can alienate in the same way an over-active profile could.
Obviously, it’s a question of getting a balance, and this applies as much to a brand’s experiential and retail marketing strategies as it does its digital. Where a campaign will really succeed is where all component parts integrate together and pace appropriately according to consumer need. Recently, I had a really enjoyable experience in a clothes shop – usually the precise opposite of my idea of a good time. But this shop was attractively presented – plenty of space and light with discreet music. The staff were attentive but not ingratiating, and best of all the clothes actually seemed to fit! I was actually happy to give over my contact details and potentially hear from them in the future…
… Which I promptly did. Four times in 36 hours, in fact. And so I ended up becoming irritated and blocking the sender, even though my original experience had gone so well. But to go in the space of a few days from Love, Actually to Fatal Attraction (three emails insisting I take advantage of a little black dress offer – I am a 6’5” man) represents a pretty clear case of too much love. It was all so unavoidable – a clear initial email asking me to set the frequency and subject matter of all communications would have set the tone for a relationship to continue. I’m not an expert on fashion, but needy is not a good look.
It’s easy to be critical, and it’s a real challenge for brands to create a meaningful dialogue with the discerning 21st century consumer. But a sensitive, thought-through, properly-paced marketing communications plan is essential to ensure that once you have caught someone’s attention – you keep it. Don’t throw it away with too much love or starve it with too little.