Posting a profit

Likeability has both a top-line and a bottom-line. Social monitoring tends to focus on the top-line: mentions; retweets; likes; comments. Top-line likeability is important because it monitors partiality towards your brand – the prevailing emotion at that moment. But it can be easily swayed, by offers, for example, or news. Bottom-line likeability is the measure of how much and/or how often consumers buy. It’s the money that drips or floods out the bottom of the sales funnel. The other p – profitability.

But just as you can be famous and broke, so your brand can have strong top-line likeability without proportionally strong financial returns. And indeed, vice versa.

Part of the problem, as Brian Solis has astutely observed in this recent post, is that chasing the “soft metrics” of top-line likeability has become as addictive to organisations as chasing top-line revenue can be for sales teams. It provides numbers, sometimes giddy numbers, but not “the insights necessary to glean ROI or deep understanding of what people do and do not want, need or value.” And certainly not the insights to know what is being generated financially. Brands are measuring incidents rather than effects.

But excitement is not cash. If you’re not monitoring your likeability off your bottom line, all you’re really counting is your Facebook effect and that, as Solis so clearly demonstrates with his beer experiment, adds up to fleeting engagement at best. It is quickly eclipsed, diverted or hijacked.

Solis asserts, “Engagement is about cultivating community behavior against a defined vision, mission and most importantly, purpose.” That’s important, but I think it can be pushed even harder. Bottom-line likeability occurs when a community is so engaged with what you offer and what you stand for (through what they’ve learnt socially and/or otherwise) that they gladly buy your brands at your margins … and keep doing so.

In commerce, as in relationships, you can’t be engaged on your own. And although it’s important to like yourself, your assessment of how likeable you are, or appear, is not necessarily the most accurate reflection of how important you are in the lives of those you really count on.

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