A cup of coffee for your Facebook Like?

Photo: Latte Credit: Erin Wenzle

One of my favorite Seattle tech journalists, Monica Guzman wrote a piece this weekend recounting the different enticements that businesses use to gain social media followers.  She describes free bottles of wine, discounts, and the aforementioned cup of coffee as perks that local businesses offer for social media check-ins or follows.

As I read how Monica got a free cup of coffee, I wondered if businesses that offer these enticements might be a little myopic to settle for a Facebook Like?  Let me explain:

Two options

What if you could leverage a free cup of coffee for one of two purposes?  (Let’s caveat this by saying it is SEATTLE coffee, embellished with enough soy, syrup and sweetener to mask the coffee taste and justify its five dollar price).

The first option offers your past customers an opportunity to see three out of every twenty messages that you send out.  They have an easy means to share your message with 15% of their friends or completely ignore it.  You can pay to advertise directly to these people now, too.

The second option offer your past customers an opportunity to see four out of every twenty messages that you send out. They have a less easy means to share your message with anyone they know, but it is also more difficult for them to completely ignore your message.  You can encourage people to opt-in to option one, too  (and you can still advertise to most of the customers in example one for the same cost).

Option one would be to offer an enticement for a Facebook Like.  Option two for an email address.   In fact with email you could record the ordered drink into your database along with an email address, and personalize your messages accordingly.  You could manage a loyalty program through email (a la Starbucks Rewards).  And there are studies suggesting that email may be a much more effective means to encourage sales from past customers.

Social media is trendy, but in this scenario email may be a much more effective use of that enticement.

Could you ask for a little more than a Like?

Here’s one other scenario I’ve talked about before.  What if you asked a customer for a Facebook Like AND for them to download the geo app Highlight?  (Highlight is an application that alerts you when you are in physical proximity to friends, friends of friends, and people who Like the same things on Facebook).

In this case, you would not only have their scant attention to 15% of your Facebook posts, but more importantly you could send them a note of greeting or enticement every time they were in physical proximity to your store.   And the Highlight ecosystem is so small (An assumption based upon my experience and not actual numbers) that it could be a pretty unique marketing tactic.

The point to this isn’t to say that Highlight is an end-all, simply to say that a Facebook Like isn’t an end-all, especially when you are offering something for free.

What Facebook represents to you may not be what it represents to them.

Yahoo’s CMO and Gen Z expert Kathy Savitt articulated her opinion of Facebook like this:

“…we see it (Facebook) as a utility…  The average Gen Z has three plus windows open at any time.  There’s no notion of a home page.  They typically have some sort of social networking site open, they typically have some form of entertainment….and then they have some form of consumptive behavior.  We want to be part of those three that are open.  That share of voice, and being part of that consideration set, is super important when you want to reach Gen Z.”

When you consider the web consumption habits of kids in high school and college, not only is Facebook simply a utility but it’s a utility with diminished importance.  What are the odds that the chosen social network for any particular teenager is the same one that their parents and grandparents are on?

If someone offers you a cup of coffee for a Facebook Like take it.  Because the odds are you will rarely (if ever) hear from them again.

But if you’re offering people an enticement for a Facebook Like, it might be worth considering if there’s a more efficient way to reach customers.  It may even be worth considering how important Facebook is to them at all.

Jim Dougherty

Jim Dougherty

Writer and chief of miscellany at leaderswest.com
I'm the guy that wrote the article you just read. Sorry for the typos.
  • http://twitter.com/RtMixMktg Tom Treanor

    Jim, nice post. I think you make a really great point with (paraphrased) – what are the odds that the chosen social network for any teen is for their parents and grandparents? I agree with you and am guessing that as Facebook becomes a tool to serve “everyone”, it will continue to alienate some groups (probably younger people). As soon as some other platform comes along that really resonates with them they’ll probably abandon Facebook in droves. That got me thinking. Thanks Jim!

    • jimdougherty

      Thanks Tom, I’m a bit obsessed with the notion of this generational gap in social networks after hearing Kathy Savitt talk about it. Appreciate your insight and elaboration!

  • http://twitter.com/geoffreiner Geoff Reiner

    Hi Jim,

    Your post makes me excited, and worries me at the same time.

    I’m excited because there are some organizations that are actually diving deeper into their strategy and marketing initiatives by developing a greater understanding of who their ideal client is and what they’re worth. Also, to your point, there’s a huge benefit in understanding platforms and what they represent to customers and to organizations. I read this and think some businesses are starting to get it!!

    On the contrary, your post worries me because there are still so many people and organizations that seem to not have a clue. Just the other day I was asked in person to like a Facebook page. It was a bit alarming because this individual stood over my shoulder and watched as I clicked like on their page on my mobile. I then asked them what kind of information can I expect if I return? And how frequently do they update your content? I left them speechless.

    This could be a case of me remembering the bad and not hearing enough about the good. But I ask myself the same question, will I ever hear from them again? I think it’s so important for people and organizations to constantly ask why…

    Thanks again for your post! This has got me thinking as well :)

    • jimdougherty

      Thanks Geoff for commenting and reading. To your point about what people expect to do with Likes, I suspect your analysis is spot on. Just like anything, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution but it does help to understand what works. Cheers!

  • http://twitter.com/gonzogonzo Frederic Gonzalo

    Hello Jim,

    What a refreshing read amidst the Facebook and social media craze to have someone remind us all that there are tried and true tactics that not only still work, but have longer-term benefits, such as email. I am also an advocate for email marketing, along with other traditional methods, combined with social media to gain better reach and online audiences. But it always boils down to a key aspect: what’s the strategy in place? What are we seeking to achieve with the “like” or the email address once we capture it?

    Too many brands still enter the fray with little strategic thinking, and more of the “me-too” approach whereby someone told them it may be a good idea to run a contest on Facebook…

    • jimdougherty

      Thanks Frederic – I appreciate you reading and your comment. Your point is salient: what will you do with it? Answering that question probably goes a long way towards answering the question of what tact to implement. Appreciate your insight. Cheers!