How to become the most popular brand in school … I mean, online

What do Taylor Swift, Ryan Gosling and Dave Kerpen have in common? Yeah, they’ve all graced our TV screens at one time or another, but more than that, they all understand one very, very important thing: how to be likeable.

Remember MySpace and Kony? Sort of? Let me refresh your memory.

MySpace was a market leader that stumbled and lost out to the younger, more attractive Facebook, while Kony 2012 was a flash-in-the-pan campaign that (despite its grand intentions) failed to make any real difference. But why? Because people are fickle. No matter how popular you once were, if you’re not consistently meeting people’s specific requirements of what they like, you’re nothing to them.

So how do you make the switch from being a Second Life to a Facebook? Simple, you learn from the pros.

Look at Swift. This country-pop princess hasn’t even reached her mid-20s and she’s already the master of social media likeability. It doesn’t matter if your brand doesn’t share Swift’s sweet disposition: her method of providing transparent, authentic messages to her fans is worth taking a cue from.

People respond to honesty, especially on platforms where they’re exposed to so much garbage. If you can position yourself as a brand that’s open and engaged with its customers, you’ll be well on the way to getting those all-important ‘likes’.

Gosling took the well-trodden path (see Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera) from Disney Mouseketeer to Hollywood star. However, despite Gosling being the subject of a series of web memes, I’m not telling you what you can learn from his online activities. His lesson is simpler: bigger isn’t always better.

Throughout his career, Gosling has swung between big-budget Hollywood blockbusters and op shop indie flicks. Somehow he manages to pick the right film every time, and it’s made him one of the most likeable guys in Tinseltown.

You can apply the same principles to your brand’s online activities. You don’t have to spend big bucks on social media campaigns that are ‘guaranteed’ to work. More often than not you’ll be better served taking the road less travelled — the road Gosling would take — and turning to engaging, solid grassroots campaigns. People will respect the time you’ve put into it and appreciate not being fed another cookie-cutter campaign they’ve seen a thousand times before.

Finally, Kerpen. Not quite a superstar, he is a former reality TV star (he appeared in the 2003 season of Paradise Hotel) who rose to fame as the CEO of social media marketing agency Likeable Media. The company’s mission: “To leverage social media and word-of-mouth marketing to create more transparent, engaged, responsive, likeable companies, organisations, and governments”.

In Kerpen’s book Likeable Social Media, his number one tip is listening to what people like will make all the difference when you’re trying to be likeable — groundbreaking stuff, I know.

But the truth of the matter is — as Gosling so eloquently puts it below — without engaging content you’ll never get the attention you crave.

ryan_gosling

Custom content, like the kind produced at Edge, will not only improve your search results, but the way consumers see your brand. In an increasingly busy Attention Economy, you have to do everything you can to make people like you. Nobody ever said vanity was a sin, did they?

Richard Parker is the head of digital at strategic content agency Edge, where he has experience working with leading brands including Woolworths, St George and Foxtel. He previously spent 12 years in the UK, first at Story Worldwide then as the co-owner and strategic director of marketing agency Better Things.

 

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