Add a Facebook Fan Page and they will come.
The road to most unhappiness starts with mismatched expectations. In relationships I have a favorite saying: "Once you know what to expect from a person they'll never let you down". That requires a real honest look at people (as well as yourself) but for the most part I am no longer dismayed when people I know do something that is a little less then friendly. But I digress, as I often do (get used to it and I won't let you down).
The same can be true for business relationships and client expectations. Truer words could not be said on the topic of marketing web brands in the new "Social" world. More specifically, I often see clients and others starting a project that involves a website and inevitably say: "We need to do this social networking thingy you know". That means a lot of different things to different people but at the core is often the desire to find the golden (and mostly nonexistent) secret formula for instant web success.Dissecting the Problem:
The problem is essentially a human one, not a technical web design one. It is so like us to think that the tried and true ways to success; hard work, consistent dedication to an effort can be replaced by the magic formula that makes it all happen for us. In the world of web design and social media that mismatched expectation is multiplied to unimaginable levels. Everyone thinks they have the video that will go viral right out the gate or that their facebook page will have 1000 fans on the first day. If you do a lot of leg work before the fan page goes live that might just happen.
Take YouTube. There are several YouTube sensations that had viral video's out the gate but considering a service that hosts over (and this is a hard to define number) 80,000,000 videos the odds of going viral all on it's own get's lower all the time. Plus these sensations started slowly and probably put in the hard work it takes to be an instant sensation.
So how does a video (or other social thingy) go viral? Here's a bunch of steps in a semi particular order. They don't even comprise all you could or should do, just making a point about the simplicity of viral. Be it a video or other social "thing" you need something that appeals to an audience and done in a style that is crafted for that audience. Things that don't happen all by themselves, takes thought and planning. Not to mention understanding your target audience. Is that all it takes. Heck no!
You have to create it (blog post, fan page content, twitter post), upload it and tag it optimally as well. Will that do it? Probably not!
Actually before all this work is where the hard work is. You could do all your heavy thinking on what your audience is, the right way to craft your content for them but what you should really do first is locate social (blog, facebook, twitter, etc) outlets that you can use to share knowledge of your "thing". It's a little anti-climactic to burn the midnight oil creating something great and then after all that need to jump to square one and start looking for ways to get the word out. Sort of an anti Gestalt Psychology downer.
The point here is not to explain all you should do to go viral and certainly not to discourage you from trying.
This discussion centers on how mismatched expectations hurts the customer experience. It really is important to have customers understand that growing socially is a long term effort. It can never be a "Set it and forget it" effort.
clients who are active on social networks in their private lives can understand the quickest once you walk them through what captures and holds their own attention in this wonderful marketplace. And I've said it before, if you don't think you're being marketed to on facebook your sleeping through the experience. But alas, again I digress.
Clients who aren't really active on social networks just think of it as this wunderkind that is the answer to their projects dreams. A little harder to get the message through.So, What does it take?
Again, not covering the steps to social success here. Just helping to explain where your expectations should be.
Think of all your favorite social media interests and outlets, from addthis.com to YouTube (addthis.com will help you understand how many there are). None of those operations came on the scene and went instantly viral. Good old marketing efforts with a slant for getting it out on the internet is where is starts.
Remember that holding interest is important. I'm not saying you need to be on twitter 24X7. The frequency is not a magic number. In fact too much can be irritating. It's a combination of what you realistically are capable of doing and how much content you can create. It's always nicer if the latter is a greater number. Store e'm up for later use.
So if you can blog, twitter or comment on your fan page once a day, once a week or even once a month there will be a steady stream of relevant content to keep people feeling your valuable love and look fresh enough to new visitors.
All in all the point here is that it takes work, hard work and a consistent dedication to an effort. No magic potions here. Just trying to help untangle misunderstood success stories where the greatest misconception is someone just did something, one single thing and they were an instant internet superstar.