Let’s get one thing clear up front: Your friends who assault your social news feeds aren’t stupid. They hate bad marketing as much as you do. But they’re enthusiastic. They’re putting themselves out there.
The problem is the way they do it is so irritating you want to de-friend them and petition they be banned from the internet. You aren’t stupid either. You also hate bad marketing.
You’d think that, as citizens of the internet, they too have experienced the annoying head buzz of blatant, chincy self-promotion and would swear it off, as you no doubt have done already—repeatedly.
But they’re enthusiastic, and here is the scary thing: you could become enthusiastic too.
One day you wake up, and you have a business opportunity. It’s great, but you have zero marketing. Pushed by the need to make a living and pulled by the desire to succeed, you turn to the place where you have the loudest voice: your social network.
And the cycle perpetuates.
Effort is noble, but there is no nobility in assaulting people with conversion demands. People must be won over thoughtfully. In social media, marketing to friends is not about getting them to engage you, but for you to engage them.
You Can Do Social Right
There is good news: you can leverage your social network to drum up business or spread the word. But it requires more than a goldfish level of aforethought. It requires a strategy that puts your audience ahead of your own needs. That’s the whole secret, right there. That, and keeping in mind that your glorious product or service is not the answer to their needs. Not in the context of Facebook.
So how do you put your audience first so you can make some money?
First consider your approach. Rather than assaulting your friends with a full frontal attack, seek to position yourself. That means that, in a way, they find you. But, that doesn’t mean being passive. You still have a lot of work to do.
What do people already like doing? Think about Facebook specifically? What actions make you smile, or interested? I’ll save us the classroom banter and hand you the one I’m looking for: celebration.
“Yay, I survived my first semester of college!” … you click “like”.
“Yay, we had a baby!” … you click “like”.
“Yay, I transferred to a better part of the company.” … you click “like”.
Now here we go:
“Yay, I officially launched my new business today! So excited!” … you click “like”.
See what I did there? It is easy to celebrate with people. It is one of the several activities we like to do. When they posted about their new company, they met your need to celebrate and you liked it. And they didn’t spoil it with a crappy commercial in the message.
Without overdoing it you could do what we sometimes call a diary entry:
“Drove by a house with a dried out lawn. Could have used the ole Cumberbatch Landscaping touch. Maybe I’ll drop them a card.”
You can also position yourself in your friends mind as an expert.
“Just a friendly reminder that this years tax laws allow for a marshmallow exemption. Carry on!”
Also, you can prove expertise by answering questions.
Notice a distinct lack of a call to action. There is a time and a place to straight up ask for someones business. Social media is not the place.
One of the best ways to get social attention is to be clever. Post a meme or interesting image and relate it to your business:
That passes what is called the “cleverness test”. The cleverness test says: will this post make someone feel smart or clever by sharing it? Here is a real life example of a post that was so clever I had to reshare it:
Cleverness test, passed.
But remember one really important thing: Don’t demean customers! This also seems obvious, but people do it, and it’s bad. Don’t do it. And consider not doing it to a potential customer either.
Also important: Don’t be a dick. (You knew that was coming at some point.) The smartphone image above was posted in the spring when everyone was thinking about warmth and travel. If you posted it in a conversation about popular smartphone apps, you’d look like a smart-ass downer. Don’t do that either.
Incentives are probably the most aggressive thing you could do without becoming an irritant, and even then you have to be careful. If you offer real value toward a good product or service, they actually pass the cleverness test.
“Refer a friend and get your next photo shoot half price.”
Milquetoast offers don’t pass the cleverness test. Especially early in your business, go extreme. Why not? If you can cover expenses, work for free some of the time! That’s not to say have crappy low prices. Have high prices that authentically reflect your true value, but also consider huge booster promotions to break the undertow of your obscurity.
“Get a coupon code for 15% off…” STOP
Make it a real offer, and consider limiting the available quantity. That will add urgency and make the sharers feel even more clever.
Also, don’t make an offer your first move. If people feel the need to research what you’re doing first the offer will lose momentum. When you have done good positioning as I described earlier, your friends won’t hesitate to take the two seconds needed to share your offer.
Last on my list of approaches, consider soliciting input. Asking a question is a common technique of social engagement but you can put a finer point on it when it is among friends:
“Going to the trade show today: Red tie, or blue?”
Leverage Social Proof
Social proof is evidence that other people actually like your service. If you are small, avoid things like displaying total number of likes. That is actually anti-social proof. In fact, I’ve seen 12,000 likes serve as anti-social proof when competitors are boasting millions.
But, leveraging modules like the ones that let you see which friends like your page, it only takes one to speak volumes. Have you seen an ad on Facebook, accompanies with: “So-and-so and four other friends like this.” You sometimes pay attention.
This article isn’t about social proof, but it is a marketable by-product of good social marketing. One that particularly applies to your circle of friends, because they are more likely to recognize each other.
Asking for likes is another no-no. Think about it: do you like it when people ask you for likes? You don’t. Draw your friends to your page and they will decide to like it. They know how.
Here Are the Real Secrets in List Form
So think of this as your little black book of secret ideas:
Remember that enthusiasm is good, but it must be properly channeled or you will do stupid things, make no money, and lose all your friends. There is no limit to what and how you post, but never forget the underlying mandate that the post itself (rather than the subject of the post) must serve the audience.
As a starting point, try posting one of each of the six types of posts described above.
Oh, and did I mention: SHARE THIS TO 15 FRIENDS RIGHT NOW
Web professionals including myself are all guilty of riding the wave of slider popularity. When they were new, image sliders (also known as carousels) were seen as an interesting way to add life (movement) to an otherwise static web page.
They caught on quickly with business leaders who, as a species, get excited about “cool” things.
As with any design fad, the leading-edge web designers moved into new best-practice, while business leaders lag behind in their best practice knowledge. To this day it is common for them to require user interface professionals to do things in ways we now know to be outdated or ineffective. We can’t entirely blame them, as it is us that got them onboard with it back when it was considered best practice.
But sliders as they are commonly used are both illogical with current UX thinking, and quantifiably proven to be ineffective.
As the science of user experience improves, we are learning that it is more important to guide users with page content than with page structure (navigation). As we pour more and more effort into crafting the best content possible, the problem with sliders become self-evident.
As per best practice, we put the most important content at the top, “above the fold” as we say. This is content that is essential for the user to know where they are, what the site is offering, and why they should stay.
But how important is content that slides away?
Even if it is important…
Because it slides away.
Thinking along the same lines, how important is content that slides in? It’s not. Why? Because it wasn’t there to start with: other content was. Also, it too will slide away.
What content in a slider really says to the user is: this is kind-of important content that we don’t care if you see or not. And frankly users never care about kind-of important stuff.
How do we know this? User behavior research bears this out every time someone looks into it. At best people assume slide 1 is important. Response to subsequent slides is effectively nil.
So is there any use for sliders? There is: They still make sense in a gallery type setting. They also still have application in rotating backgrounds (where they aren’t acting as content per se). In fact, small sliders within content areas can be a valuable tool for observing users trying to locate certain parts of content, but that’s a topic for another article.
What should we be using instead of sliders in the “hero” area of home pages and landing pages? This is for the very most important hook. It’s for the title, supporting line, and image(s) that will keep users on your web page for the rest of your pitch. It’s definitely not content you want sliding away!
Recently Google made headlines when it began requiring people to post comments on Youtube from their Google+ accounts (and if you didn’t have one, why of course you should make one). This week they made news again by showing the first signs of merging their second most popular service, Gmail, with one of their least popular services, Google+.
The internet has no shortage of reactors and detractors, or people grandstanding about using cookie tricks or changing to alternate services entirely.
Personally I find Google’s moves to be predictable, inevitable, and welcome. Here’s why:
Let’s talk about inevitable. Since before 2007 Microsoft realized that it had numerous various products which would serve their customers better if they were horizontally integrated. Hotmail started working like Outlook, Outlook like Hotmail, then for a less specific master account they created Live. Now you can sync your Microsoft Live account between your Windows 8 log in, your browser, your Bing search, your e-mail, your cloud.
What you’re seeing with Google now is simply the same. They have all these disconnected services: Gmail, Maps, Youtube, Search, Drive, Chrome, Chrome OS, and Android. It makes perfect sense to do what Microsoft did and unify these under one master-type account. Enter Google+.
But *how* Google+ entered the market is not one of Google’s bright spots. The original social media offering was limited, buggy, and awkward. I think this may have been the result of Google’s development model, which is to shape their services based on intense user feedback, versus Microsoft which tends to stack it’s teams with mega-experts like the New York Yankees (with some of the resulting conflicts of the Yankees too).
Those models generally mean that Microsoft puts a strong product out front, but is limited in it’s response to customer input. Google on the other hand, tends to put a weak product out front then innovate aggressively based on feedback. The Google method can lead to a great product, but with a tarnished reputation.
And in my opinion that is what we have with Google+. After a few years of aggressive improvements, it’s now a stellar social platform. I prefer it over Facebook hands-down, and I was not an early adopter.
I prefer it over Facebook hands-down, and I was not an early adopter.
Now that they are connecting their services, I’m afraid Google is again taking a PR hit. I don’t feel like they’re really selling it to the public like Microsoft did.
But people need to realize, it is unreasonable for a company to keep it’s services disconnected from each other. And it’s especially ironic that some of the people complaining about Google’s moves are the same people taking advantage of Microsoft Live. And don’t even get me started on Apple ID.
I think Google is currently in an awkward pinfeathers stage as it gradually molts into a unified product. While that happens, people will continue to react.
Coupons have a certain attraction that is hard to resist. So when I started using Facebook Offers, I shouldn’t have been surprised how effective it is. The potential it has to help you is really an offer you can’t refuse.
In the first part of my series on Facebook Promotion I introduced promoting a post. I did that first because it is the easiest and cheapest way to start. However I believe for many markets the most effective tool that Facebook offers is, well, Facebook Offers.
In it’s simplest form FB Offers is a coupon that contains a promotion code. Users see your offer, and can click a button to claim it. The offer is then e-mailed to their e-mail address where they can print it out, or copy-paste the code into an online shopping cart.
But why use a coupon? Why not use a promoted post or an ad making the same offer?
There are a few advantage to coupons. First is psychology. A coupon implies some exclusivity. People like to feel like they are getting a truly special deal, and even if it takes a few extra steps to claim it, those obstacles actually make people motivated to actually use it.
Next is tracking. While we did look at ways to track promoted posts, and you can certainly track ads, it is very easy to know a response to a coupon code because your customer self-identifies by the act of using the coupon!
The bottom line is, if you do it well, FB Offers will help more people actually follow through on your offer. It is not at all expensive to run one, and like promoting posts, can have an excellent return-on-investment. Technically it is free, but IMO it’s not worth doing without paying for some promotion, hence why I don’t play up that fact.
We’ll go into the mechanics of running an offer in my next post.