Clients often ask me whether it's better to have the most fans or a smaller number of super devoted followers. Of course we all want more reach, but smart brands are starting to appreciate the longer game of developing a relationship with their audience over time, something which cannot be done with short term blasts or fire sale offers.
The answer to developing loyalty in your online audience is exactly the same as making friends offline. It's almost certainly something you're aware of, but may only know of through its myriad forms.
It's called social proof.
Your friends know you'll always be exactly on time, because you've been like that forever.
Your husband knows you'll find the right word to finish his sentence because you've done it since the day you met (and hey, that's why he married you, right!?)
Your local supermarket always stocks the weird brand of hot sauce you really love because the owner is just as crazy for that stuff as you are.
With a million things to worry about in our lives, it's nice to know some things are (reasonably) certain.
For years, marketers have been taught to keep their brand consistent. Just spend a minute looking over the McDonald's style guide to see how the best companies ensure you get a similar brand experience during every interaction, anywhere on the planet.
So why is it so different online?
Your marketing team probably spent hours perfecting the spacing around your logo for a tiny print ad that runs for a week... Yet your Twitter account has sat idle for months.
Yes, it's a matter of prioritising.
But is it really worth more of your time rewriting one sentence of your ad copy 20 times (from which you will get exactly ZERO feedback) or trying to write just one absolute killer tweet that has the potential to be shared and spread by millions?
I'm not saying ad copy isn't worth getting right.
What I'm saying is, it's not enough anymore.
But here's the good news... With social proof, an audience can grow rapidly with very little additional effort.