This is the second in series of articles about the use and abuse of social media in digital marketing. Today we will look at the practice of Facebook bait-and-switch, and why you should avoid it.
A trend we’ve seen recently is to use email to push for social site interactions. An email goes out offering customers a discount coupon, but when the recipients click on the link, they are taken to a Facebook page where they have to login or click “Like” to receive the coupon. Many people use social channels every day and are big fans, but a small percentage resist sharing their lives on social channels and do not want to be associated with a social site. Still others don’t mind using the social channels for personal communications, but refuse to connect to businesses. Sending these people to Facebook, Google+, or other sites will cause many to just ignore your offer and be frustrated that everything must be social.
Recipients expect active links in their email; it comes with the territory. What they don’t expect—and don’t like—is to be forced, without warning, to log into Facebook from a link for more information on your products or services. We’ve seen examples where a customer sent out invitations to a party event via email, but made the links go to a Facebook page. In some ways this is great marketing – as people confirmed they would be attending other people could see the growing list of attendees, and those that wanted to could comment. The problem was that not everyone wants to be sharing everything on Facebook, so many of the comments were angry customers asking why they had to use Facebook. Who knows how many non-Facebook users never even got that far. The company quickly backpedaled and provided a web page on their company site for people to go to (the link destination was changed on the fly, so recipients who were slower to click never saw the Facebook page).
A Facebook “Like” button in your email is still the best way to draw people to your Facebook page (ditto for Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+). If customers like what they read in the email, they can prove it by adding you to their Facebook list. From there it’s fine to reiterate the offer in the email and give them the opportunity to share it across their networks. Just remember that you’re still going to want them to get back to your website at some point. This eliminates the privacy concerns (both founded and unfounded), and, more importantly, it puts the analytic information back in your bailiwick instead of sharing it with Mark Zuckerberg. This also holds true for any ads that you’ve placed on Facebook. Link them back your site. Never forget that, regardless of Facebook’s marketing potential, people first and foremost consider it a place to contact friends, and not a place to listen to sales pitches.