Sunday, January 16, 2011

How to Beat the Click-and-Ignore of Facebook

For most businesses on Facebook, there is an unnamed, but obvious barrier to true engagement. The ease of Facebook makes it a challenge to actually get past the single click-and-ignore interaction most people have with the pages they "like."

What is "click-and-ignore?"

Click-and-ignore is when a user gives you the absolute least they can do - a single click on a  button - and you give them the absolute least you can do - a coupon or freebie or even just overexcited promotional copy. There's no incentive to do more, as most of the "like"rs have already hidden your feed before you even send the first status update. As Nicholas Carr says in  The Like Bribe, this very simplicity of the action potentially erodes actual likability. Users will "Like" something for reasons other than wanting to keep in touch with a business. Showing support is a common reason I hear for clicking "Like" - a behavior that is almost always paired with immediately hiding that Page's feed. Bribes in the form of freebies and discounts are another.

I've talked about the ease of Facebook and why it discourages actual engagement on the part of user or business. The facade of being popular hides the lack of meaningful interaction.

True stories: A company I do work for from time to time has a Facebook page on which they breathlessly post exciting news! all the time. If you read their feed, they have a gazillion things going on. But when it comes to engaging with the fans of that feed - nothing. Not a single question gets answered. It's a classic case of talking at the fans - not with them.

Another company I follow opened up a Facebook page and started to ask the fans what they wanted to see on the feed. I commented "Responses to us when we respond to you," to which they replied, "Like this?" Not quite satisfied, I posted, "Yes, but with actual content." Overall, they still focus on themselves, but when straightfoward questions are asked, they will answer.

It's not at all complicated to break past the "click-and-ignore" barrier.

1) Forget "likes" altogether. It's a meaningless number that measures just about nothing.

Look at the number of comments, questions and responses you get on a given update, not the "likes." Even things like "great news!" or "alright!" provide you a clearer picture of the people who *want* to engage with you.

2) Respond to the people who respond to you.

When you ask, "so, which one of our products do you like best," some of your fans will reply. If you do not thank them, talk to them about their experience - what is good and bad about that thing - you're being a jerk. Just imagine someone walking up to you, asking you if you think that sweater looks good on them and when you reply, they turn around without a word and walk away from you. What would your reaction be? If you want actual engagement beyond just a "like," you need to reply to those answers given in good faith. Those people responded to you, how hard is it to respond back?

3)  Reach deeper, give more than a bribe

Giving to charity is always a good feeling. But which feels better - mailing off a check, or spending the day actually giving your time and effort to a cause that's important to you?

Sure, it costs you almost nothing to tell folks of the great sale you're having. They know that. It's not like that's actually giving them anything - we all know that sales are to get rid of things you don't want in inventory anyway.

It costs a little more to give up a discount code, but that's all opportunity cost - the more they spend, sure they save more, but they've also spent more - and we all know how that works too.

Special deals for members of this group are a little better - we know that the non-effort of clicking that "Like" button is being equally rewarded with the non-effort of a special discount code.

There's more to a relationship than quid pro quo. Good customers should be rewarded well - your best customers should be rewarded with something that makes them feel truly special. Find the first person to Like you or person who "likes" everything and comments all the time, enters every contest.That person is your advocate. Let them know that you notice their effort. Next time you're going to be near their area, tell them to drop by and just, y'know, treat them nice. That person is part of your team, not for money, but for love. Shower them with love and attention. Go beyond the bribe, and actually be their friend.

Invest a little time and emotion and you can push past the "click-and-ignore" barrier to build strong, productive relationships on Facebook.
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