Don’t Be a Dick: How to Destroy Friendships and Your Business Through Poor Social Networking

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.

too-much enthusiasm

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”.

likelikelike

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:

Husband-fix-fail-4
“People like this are job security to me.”

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

So Lame

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.

Zero People Like This

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.

Force Like

Here Are the Real Secrets in List Form

So think of this as your little black book of secret ideas:

  • Celebration
  • Diary
  • Expert
  • Clever
  • Offer
  • Input

Dat Enthusiasm!

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


Facebook Offers: You Can’t Refuse

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.

start_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.


Who Really Has Time for Social Media in the Professional World?

Before you’ve tried it, it sounds easy. You just sit down, maybe even with a service like Hootsuite, configure your company Facebook page and schedule a couple posts. No sweat, right?

But then you notice, the posts kind of look alike and, a week later, they’re getting no attention.

So you up the game a little bit, do some googling, see what’s trending in cat pictures, and before you know it you spent an hour writing one post.

Out of a new sense of panic you find a Youtube video and a meme to fill out your schedule. Still, little or no interest generated in your audience.

But you are a professional: You have customers to keep happy. So Facebook takes a back seat while you do what puts food on the table. A month later you’re talking to another professional and Facebook comes up in the conversation. With the mental image of the whopping 3 likes on your company page (two being you and your spouse) you say, “Yeah I tried that, but it didn’t really work.”

From that moment on, if you see a local business with 3,000 likes or even a major company with over half a million likes, you feel a twinge of resentment. How can they do it? You think. It has to be their big budget. You console yourself. But then you read an article in a trade magazine and,  oh great, there is a sole-proprietor in your industry that has 30,000 likes and booming business. HOW?!?!?

If you want to be on a success trajectory in your social media. you have two perfectly legitimate choices:

1, you could take the time to educate yourself more on how to do your own successful social media, and carve out some time to organize yourself and establish a production rhythm.

Or 2, you could hire it out.

You may have just read number 1 and said ‘that’s time I don’t have.’ then read number 2 and said ‘…and that’s money I don’t have.’ I’m here to tell you you’re wrong on both points.

I can tell you you’re wrong because I’m not making a bent penny from this blog post.

First of all, you can do it yourself if it is really a priority. That means doing some reading, organizing some content sources, and preparing set time to write and schedule content and to reply to interaction. Also a must is a small budget for promotion. You would be amazed how far even $50 per month can take you.

Regarding contracting out to an agency, it will still require some of your time and attention. There is no getting away from the fact that your business is the topic of the content and that you will have to provide some information and maybe photos to an agency. However an agency is well trained and methodical, they have content curation, they have brand monitoring, they have fancy software, they have content specialists who are pretty fast at delivering quality content, and they know social  media really well and usually have the numbers to prove it.

Hiring out doesn’t eliminate the need for you to make some of your own posts, or respond to interaction, but it takes the heavy lifting off your shoulders and usually grows your following at an optimal rate.

How much it costs depends on your budget. There are definitely recommended budgets, and you will get more when you spend more, but often a service plan can be tailored to your budget. Think about $500 per month as a starting place. If you can commit $500-1000 additional for campaigns, it would be money well spent.*

*Obviously I can’t speak for any agency. Prices and quality may vary substantially. I know at least one agency that recommends $9,000 per month. Again it is money well spent but not many small businesses can afford that. Don’t be ashamed of a small budget. Agencies balance their time over several clients.

As a side note, if you are tempted to try an agency for just one month. They have heard that a hundred times, and they will tell you what they have told everyone else 100 times. You can do that, but social media is relationship building. A short run is more like 3-6 months. Social scales exponentially, so by using them for one month or two you are actually robbing yourself of the highest value months.

So now like any smart businessman you’re thinking, $500 per month for three months, plus one big campaign… $2,500. If you’re starting to think you could hire someone part time for minimum wage for the same money, abort thought! Remember that in hiring an agency they are trained, researched, practiced, have professional accountability and development, and are tooled up.

The time lost in finding your unqualified worker, setting them up on a computer, and them getting up to speed to the extent that your social media is on a positive trajectory (if that ever happens) will be to the tune of weeks if not months.

Agencies want to retain your business just as you want to retain your customers. They will do their level best to return value for your investment because they want to keep you as a customer.
It doesn’t matter which route you take, so long as your actions are substantial enough to yield real returns. Anything short of that is indeed “not working for you.”

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