Are Social Asks such as “Follow me,” “Like me” and “Friend me” overused?

Sarah Evans, the Founder of Sevans Strategy, partnered with Alterian, the marketing technology and solutions provider, to find the answer to that question.

In March of 2011, Sarah led research to track down the metrics behind all of the requests we receive from social media platforms. “Will you be my Facebook friend?” “Would you like to check-in?” and “Follow me on Twitter?” are just some of the actions we are asked to do on a daily basis in our online social lives.

According to the study, more than 3.4 million “social ask” mentions were recorded in a one-month period on social media channels. That’s a monster number.  So, let’s break it down.

For starters, 91.9% of social asks were on Twitter, 2.2% on Facebook and only .03% on Foursquare.

So what’s up with Twitter’s “Follow me” being the most popular request? According to Mashable, the online social media guide, the popularity in “social asks” via Twitter over Facebook could be due to the fact that Facebook is a more personal medium and private Facebook pages were left out of their study. That skews the research a bit, but it certainly puts to rest any thoughts that Twitter is a second-class citizen in the social wars.

Additionally, the study shows that on Twitter, slightly more women initiate the social ask than men. However, more men than women make the social ask on Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.

So, let’s go 1:1. The “ask” is what initiates the online relationship. It starts the process. It’s a courtship. It is not a one-night stand. The goal in social media is to move beyond the initial stage of a passive friend who simply is a “fan” or “likes” your Facebook page and into an active participant engaged in an ongoing conversation.

Key Take-Aways:
Expand your relationship beyond the initial “ask.” Think about it. After asking someone  out on a date, would you follow up for a second night out if the first one was a success? Yes. In fact, you might even leave a message on their VM before they got home.

Same thing in the social sphere … it’s  about the chase and building long-term relationships. So, are you a Follow-Me Flirter or a Follow-Me Forever kind of marketer? If you want one-night stands, build your treasury of Likes  and Follows but be prepared for them to leave. If you want an enduring relationships, here are five tips to go beyond the first date:

1. Skin In The Game: if your audience is valuable, reward them with service and incentives to  encourage participation with your brand
2. Put a Matchmaker in Charge: companies are dedicating resources to these efforts … put  your best customer service expert in charge of connecting with your customers
3. Get Personal: No more “Hey You” marketing.  Using the same one-liners for everyone is lame  and is a consumer connection turn-off. You know what I mean.
4. Reinforce Value: Content rules here … video, information, connections, polls,  insider information … all should flow into your marketing calendar.
5. Get Feedback: Consider this your online therapist. Want to know how you are doing?  Ask, and you will get real-time information.

So, enough of the relationship metaphor. We get it. We have to “do stuff.” But aren’t some people more “special” than others? A quality vs. quantity issue?

According to Mashable, it’s not about how many followers or fans you have, it’s who they are that really matters. Meteor Solutions collected data from over 20 brand marketer clients and found that 1% of a site’s audience accounts for 20% of all it’s traffic. This means your top 1% of fans, friends and followers influence the other 20% that go to your site. Through social media analytic tools such as Raidan6 and ObjectiveMarketer you can find out who’s in your top 1% and how they influence others.

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Posted by Rebecca Wilson, Marketing Analyst at the 60 Second Marketer.