More! Bigger! Faster!


Perhaps it’s symptomatic of the region in which we work and live. The UAE (especially Dubai) is known for doing everything on a big scale. Everything must be bigger, flashier or [insert adjective here]-er than the next guy. On one level, that’s admirable. You should always push your limits and not settle for second best. Of course, when it comes to social media, that may not always be true.

Robert Dunbar, a British anthropologist, postulated that the upper limit of meaningful connections a single human being can have and maintain is 150. This is largely due to things like the size of our brain’s neocortex. Of course, brands aren’t human beings, so is there an upward limit to the number of meaningful connections a brand can make? That answer is essentially dependent on the brand itself. Some brands (like Coca Cola, Adidas) scale easily, able to collect fans without any hassle whatsoever. Other brands struggle to make even triple digits. You’re probably thinking that the struggling brands are smaller brands and not global players. This isn’t always the case. There are smaller brands that act in their own regions and enjoy notable popularity with their market, sometimes even more so than some international brands.

So what’s the secret sauce?

In a word: relevance. At first blush, this could be an oversimplification but in its succinctness the truth is clear. Relevance means the right content at the right time for the right people.

Let’s break that down in reverse. The right people: these are your fans, followers, consumers and subscribers (i.e. the people who like your brand and want to know more about it). The right time: this is engagement at the moment when the right people are at their most receptive to your post, tweet or status update. The right content: this is creating content that matters to your market. It is by far the trickiest of the three. Crafting content that makes your social media audience receptive to the message and then want to spread it around and then want to come back for more isn’t easy but it can be done. You see, unlike a person whose connections are made through one-to-one interaction, the brand’s connections are made through relevance and that means creating content that scales easily. It’s the old trick that radio does well: talk to a crowd but make every individual in that crowd feel as if you’re talking only to him.

This is why we caution against quick growth in fans and followers. These tactics are very rarely ever long-term and are usually designed to inflate the numbers. While it’s true that many people hit the “LIKE” button and forget about your brand after such tactics and thus keep the numbers more or less steady, the really negative part is the money your brand has wasted on collecting people who don’t care about it. And once you have the wrong people listening they will never have time for your messages and nothing you say will ever be what they want to hear. Aim instead to build steady numbers over a period of time. You’ll find these fans are true supporters of your brand and the best advocates for what you do.

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