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The Facebook Marketer's Moment of Truth

  |  May 29, 2012   |  Comments

We marketers must keep our promises as we explore new ways to responsibly leverage the valuable access and amplification our customers have granted.

When it comes to Facebook marketing, there is a very definite moment of truth in the relationship between the brand and the customer. The moment after which nothing is the same...the "allow."

From a customer's perspective, the allow has become fairly familiar. It's the box that pops up when you're using a Facebook app that asks for permission to access your personal profile information and (often) to post content to your wall.

For us, as marketers, this is the new permission marketing paradigm. In many ways, it's the new "opt in" to an email list. But it's more powerful than that. Earning access to a customer's profile information, combined with the ability to post content to their friend network, is an unprecedented combination of 1) access and 2) amplification.

We are arguably still in the very early stages of learning how to leverage this combination in a valuable and responsible manner. And, given that the allow is so powerful - and such a critical part of marketing's future - we need to be very thoughtful in how we go about earning the allow. The following tips offer some advice on how to think about this "moment of truth" - before, during, and after.

Before the Allow: Make a Compelling Offer

Social customers are savvy. Most have lived through years of spam and junk mail offers that trained them to be highly suspicious of anyone offering a freebie in return for their personal information.

In earning the allow, we must accept the onus to offer customers a compelling reason to pony up their share of access and amplification. And, we must embrace the fact that different customer segments are motivated by different offers. While "early access to exclusive products" may be a compelling reason to some, others may find exclusive content or participation in a charitable giving program compelling. And some may be motivated by pure entertainment, willing to allow in exchange for a fun experience or game.

Whatever your compelling offers are, it should be clear what value is being offered. And, it should represent a fair trade. Today's social customers are far too savvy to be "hoodwinked" into trading their access and amplification for nothing.

During the Moment of Truth: Be Clear What You're Asking for and Why

The "Auth Dialog," Facebook's term for the allow pop-up, has evolved considerably over the past year, and now gives us a much greater opportunity to explain what information and posting abilities we are requesting.

All Facebook marketers should take a look at the Auth Dialog specs here.

kevin-tate-june-2012-image

Take note of the fields available to explain what profile access is being requested and what the application is planning to do with the information.

This is our "in the moment" opportunity to convince the customer that we are going to provide meaningful value, and that we will make responsible use of their information. As such, we marketers should create this messaging, not the application developers. Customers who aren't convinced to share their information will decide not to allow the app; they will "bounce." Typically, 30 percent or more of people presented with the allow dialogue will "bounce" and marketers should take a close look at the "Dialog Impressions" and "Dialogs Accepted" numbers in Facebook's Insights report to get a clear sense of the "bounce rate" on various apps and assess how to improve their success rate.

Afterward: Remember the Promise You Made and Keep It

Once an allow is earned, our responsibility begins in earnest. The ability for an app to post content on a customer's behalf means that "social spam" can be much more annoying (and more embarrassing even) than its email and snail-mail equivalents.

While we must be very careful not to violate customer trust, this is not always as simple as it seems, given the fact that different customers will allow access to their profile for different reasons. A brand with a few million fans might find that they have several different "allow groups" such as: 1) those who allow for special offers and discounts, 2) those who allow to participate in a charitable giving program, and 3) those who allow simply because they love the brand.

These different groups are going to expect - and accept - different types of messages and may have very different tolerances for what you can post on their behalf. When you plan to present a compelling offer or experience in return for customer allows, it's a good idea to form a hypothesis about why those particular customers will respond - and what their expectations will be as a result.

More importantly, that "expectation hypothesis" should stay top of mind when marketing to those customers in the future. Those of us who target and tailor future messages and offers based on the promise a customer responded to at the "moment of truth" will see higher engagement - and a lower risk of customer alienation.

Think of It Like a Contract, Not a Carte Blanche

Compared to the permission marketing paradigms that preceded it, the central difference in today's allow-based marketing is that the customer can remain much more in control. In previous models, customers were unable to stem the tide of junk mail and spam, and so now we have elaborate spam filters and do-not-call lists, both symptoms of irresponsible "permission" marketing.

However, if we act responsibly, we can avoid these traps in social media marketing. Customers have tools to manage permissions surrounding the brands and applications they engage with and they will use them if they get overwhelmed by a tide of social spam.

The onus rests with us, the marketers. We must establish clear, permission-based contracts with our valuable customers. And we must keep our promises as we explore new ways to responsibly leverage the valuable access and amplification our customers have granted us.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin Tate

Kevin has been working with brands and retailers to build e-commerce and social media marketing solutions since 1995. As an entrepreneur and business development leader in growth-stage companies, he is most interested in developing new markets at the intersection of consumers, brands, and emerging technologies. Kevin currently leads marketing and product management at ShopIgniter, providers of Enterprise Social Commerce solutions to the F1000.

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