Permission marketing & Facebook

Sep 12, 2009

As many of you out there, I have also given in to the magic of Facebook,where you can meet old friends and make new ones, all the while filling your mind with sometimes useless bits of information that allow you to better grasp the thoughts, issues and ideas of people you don’t see every day. All the while this is free, it is one of those projects that in my opinion needs to build trust so that people using it feel ok to really share bits of their lives…

At the same time, the marketer within tempts me with questions on how certain gaps may be filled, on a tool as user-friendly and sharing as Facebook?

If we go back 20 years, before the internet, before Facebook, before modern marketing, how did organisations and businesses manage to share their ideas?

  • Did they do so because they spent lots of time and energy by telling everyone? Maybe so.
  • Did they manage so because they told people that care? Maybe so.

But while both are potentially effective, only 1 is truly efficient!

My alltime favorite marketer which I’m sure you all know by now, Seth Godin, has had a full book published, very successfully, on what he calls “Permission Marketing“. How should you imagine this? Well, imagine someone buying your red hering, and adding a simple sentence after the transaction: “if you would like to know if we have special promotions or new models of your red hering, please feel free to give me your number and I will call you to inform you”.

This of course sounds like a weary process, where lists of interests with phonenumbers need to be precisely managed (you wouldn’t want to bother the red hering kind of guy with the new blue hering), 25 years later, advanced technological systems allow you to set this in ways that simplify a marketer’s life significantly.

But what does this mean for you, young FB marketers?

My example and reason for this post:

  • Why would I receive invitations go to Techno/Dance parties for techno/dance-enthusiasts whilst I seriously do not enjoy that type of music?
  • Why would I be invited to an event on the other side of the world?
  • Why would I be asked to become a fan of something I can not honestly claim fan-ship of, over and over again?

By adding you as a friend, I authorize you to communicate with me as a friend, not a business! If a business adds me as a friend, I have the choice of accepting the friendship for some probable advertising messages, or to choose not to accept those messages. If someone suggest I become a fan, and I refuse to, I do not want to be asked again as I already took the decision, and on Facebook the rule remains the same: no means no.

One of the interesting features on Facebook is that there is something to be used for every kind of situation, the trick is to understand which is which:

  • You use Facebook for personal reasons: great, that’s what it was created for. Do your thing, have fun, meet your (old) friends (again), keep a tiny part of someone’s life with you at any moment
  • You use Facebook for business: create a (fan-)page! Advertise the page, suggest it to your friends if you truly believe they could be fans, and don’t re-suggest it – that is intrusive and annoying. By having a clever message and advertising at low cost, you can still reach the people that truly take an interest in your cause/product/service. And don’t even think about using groups…they’re not going to help you unless you’re thinking about on-line focus groups or things the like.

I have come across two very interesting articles from Seth Godin who has noticed “computers today are no longer computers, but an opportunity to upsell”, and another from Bob Poole that asks marketers (or those that wish to become marketers) to “RESPECT their people”. With annoying habits as established as new computers full of infected marketing messages with no specific purpose other than to force the less techsavy to pay, I cannot help but notice the same on my Facebook account. Using it forces me to either accept friends and all the marketing messages they might send, or not accept friends and hence not use Facebook at all.

And a last bit on Facebook marketing…

Once you’ve gotten permission to talk about your cause/product/service to a crowd, take some more time and create not only messages but targets as well. If someone agrees to become a fan of your red hering, and there is no connection or reasonable cause to believe there might be one, don’t suggest they also become fans of the blue hering, and especially, don’t send them blue hering messages if they’ve given you permission to tell them about the red ones and the red ones only. Invite them to local events, ask them for feedback after the purchase, allow them to interact.

With time, you will learn that you do not need large crowds of people where most have turned blind to your message – only a handful of real “fans”, may they be supporters, sneezers, influencers, or just regular/heavy users, will benefit you more! Here again, Seth puts it in a very concise and effective way!

Good luck with FB marketing, and now you’ve read my recommendations, no more excuses for those invites I couldn’t care less for! 🙂

(On another note, here’s an article of interest that is not just for Facebook marketers but also and especially for Facebook users: Facebook Privacy Settings – Sorry I Meant Money Settings by Jens B.)

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