Facebook Fan Page “Forced Like” Ethics

I recently dove into a project to set up Facebook Tab Manager, a cool plugin from David Carr that feeds a Facebook fan page it's content from your WordPress install. There are a couple cool features of the plugin for turning off certain WP filters that makes it especially nice. Otherwise, you can create your fan page content just like you create your blog content -- same interface, editor, and plugins.

The challenge I set up for myself was to get the much touted "forced like" feature integrated for my friends and clients. I let a few people know that I was looking for testers and my friend @ShelHorowitz sent a DM on twitter mentioning that he boycotts any pages that use "forced like." This got me thinking.

So here was my question: is having more content available to those who "like" your fan page on Facebook any different than sending exclusive content to those who subscribed via an email capture page on a web site?

For those that don't know, the idea of a "forced like" is that in order to see the content on a Facebook fan page you would have to click the "like" button and become their "fan" first. I've seen people selling poorly thought out schemes for collecting a bazillion fans overnight that rely on the curiosity factor around this hidden content as the only reason to become a fan.

I suspected that the reason Shel found that objectionable is that the reason it is named forced like -- it is typically done with such hype and strong language that it is assumed you won't be able to see anything unless you are a fan. In the extreme cases, where the only content on the fan page is the single piece of "hidden" content, it is probably true that you'd have to "like" it before seeing anything. The funny thing is, if that's all there is to see, it's probably not worth the time/energy/attention to like it.

There are many legitimate uses for splitting publicly viewable content from fan/like/subscriber-only content. Rewarding those who "join the tribe" is a great thing, you just need to make sure you're giving other reasons to join besides just the "bribe."

Personally, I intend to use this splitting of content in much the same way that Seth Godin suggests we use cookies -- giving those who have not opted-in and "liked" the fan page useful information that A) they may need/want before deciding to "like" the page and B) they probably won't need after they have opted-in because they'll be a part of the tribe. Then, and only then, I would consider a bribe if deemed necessary.

You shouldn't need the landing tab to include things like contact info because that is always visible on the "Info" tab, and with congruent activity the wall posts should give people a good idea of what to expect in their news feeds as fans. Depending on the level of tech-savvy of your audience, you may need that landing tab to include explicit instructions for a visitor to browse your other tabs and/or click "Like" to receive future updates and describing how they'll get those updates.

It turns out that not being able to see much content was only a minor part of Shel's objection, which he elaborated to me later in the day. The main issue around liking pages, forced or not, is that of implied endorsement in a public arena and the reputation management that goes along with that Like/endorsement being spread across your friends' news feeds.

This adds a new twist on the old aphorism:
Now you need people to know and trust you enough to "Like" you!

With all that in mind, if you'd like to be notified when I have my updated version of that plugin ready for a wider audience, go ahead and enter your name and email in the form below and opt-in.

(See, that wasn't so hard to do -- a little relationship building, sharing some good info, and then suggesting the next action for those who are interested. Go do the same thing on your Facebook fan pages and you'll be just fine.)

The greatest of these …

As we are full in the swing of the holi-daze, it's good to remember what the season is all about. It isn't shopping, spending, buying -- it *is* about giving and love.

I was coming here to share about a particular book that an associate asked me to promote. I changed my mind after seeing the "trippy" gifts being submitted for that launch.

Instead, I'm going to recommend the book Allowing by Holly Riley. I have heard nothing but good things about Holly and her book from our mutual friend Don McKinnon (make sure you grab a copy of his gift among those available by registering your book purchase at http://hollyriley.com/allowing/).

The lesson here: I could have just blindly mentioned the other book because I was asked to promote it. I did not because it is not congruent with my beliefs and therefore would have been a poor choice all around. (Maybe I'll go into some of the consequences of acting against your beliefs in another post, but I'm sure you can come up with quite a list yourself!)

So, rather than pimping a book I didn't believe in but had been asked to share, I shared a book I could believe in because a friend I respect loves the book and enjoys the author as a person. Relationships trump pretty much everything else.

As you head over to Amazon and pick up Holly's book, ponder how your business can build on and build up those relationships that matter and where you may need to eliminate or minimize other relationships that don't fit with your mission (which is hopefully more than just strip mining cash and disappearing -- which it must be, or else you wouldn't still be here reading my stuff!).

In the meantime, remember ''the greatest of these is Love''!

3 and a Half Men Great at Managing Their Social Web Presence

Yesterday's post riffing on Mashable's 6 Challenges brought to mind a few folks that are really good at congruence, alliances, and being customer-centric.

All four of these men are good at all three (congruence, alliances, and customer focus) so when I emphasize one or another aspect for each it is only for example purposes. Without further ado:

Dr.Mani is a heart surgeon in India who treats children with congenital heart defects. He funds the surgeries through donations as well as through his own information marketing efforts. I hold him up as an exemplar in congruence. He has a consistent message across platforms and across time. He demonstrates that congruence through what he says in his blog posts, what he tweets and retweets on twitter, what he interacts with on facebook. He has also started to segregate some of his different aspects by creating multiple twitter accounts: @DrMani for the gestalt and non-profit aspects, and @infoprofitz for the information marketing specifics.

Mark Joyner is called the "Godfather of the Internet" for his ability to make an "offer you can't refuse" (he is even giving away the book on it: The Irresistible Offer). His world changing projects develop through his constructs. I hold him up as an exemplar in building strategic alliances. His social media is not promotion driven, in fact he rarely sends out links -- even for his own products. This is partially because Mark is selective about who he accepts into his program to promote his Simple·ology programs and relies on those partnerships for the promotion, while he builds the relationships -- with his partners and with his prospects.

Marlon Sanders is a marketer through and through. His online presence is focused on one thing: producing and promoting products. This is a great thing because he is an exemplar at being customer focused and consistently overdelivers on what he promises. As an example of that, he is starting a Quickstart call this evening for his 6 Week Round Table. This may not seem like a big deal, but he is charging less than a quarter of what the typical "guru" (with little to no experience) would charge. Rewarding those who purchase early and being humble enough to create a "round table" rather than lording it over others from the head of the table shows Marlon's commitment to his clients.

Paul Myers is a great marketer with a minimal presence on the social web. Yes, he has facebook and twitter accounts, but is rarely active at either. I hold him up as an exemplar of managing his social web presence through minimalism. Paul has a ton of great marketing resources and his primary mode of communication is through his email newsletter (which is worth it's weight in gold!). He shows a way to be present, but not active, on the social web.

Notice, that the four men I chose as exemplars are all "old timers" -- they've each been doing their thing online for over a decade and are still going strong. The biggest lesson here: find what works for you (and your clients) and do it with consistency, through strategic alliances, and with a focus on what's best for the customer.

3 More Challenges to Managing a Brand on the Social Web

Today's post is prompted by a Mashable post "6 Challenges to Managing a Brand on the Social Web" shared by my friend Gary Walter.

Here is my response to Gary's question "are there more you can think of?":

I hope the first guy was misquoted. ''Be everything to everyone'' means you're anything but yourself. I agree with the transparency, especially upon screwing up, and think he and/or the editor missed the mark.

Congruence is the key to what was said about making sure internal personnel know what external message to communicate. Same thing applies to individuals. And by being congruent you can *never* be everything to everyone.

It's much more useful to polarize people and increase the gap between lovers and haters of your brand and to make sure you get as many people your brand touches out of ignorance and indifference as possible. The clearer you are on who the lovers of your brand are the less time/money/energy you'll waste on the indifferent and the haters.

Another area they missed was choosing your allies. The alliances you make define your brand as much as the actions you take. As one mentor said ''we're Jets and they're Sharks.''

In many ways, this turns into an issue of congruence as well. Knowing who you are and what you stand for (and against) makes alliances easier to choose. If there is no way for me to serve your brand lovers, or vice versa, it is obviously not going to be a very good alliance.

Which leads to the last piece I think they may have skimmed, but didn't clearly hit: being client centric. Yes, you must cultivate the relationships, but even then it needs to be based on a win-win-win situation, not just because you've mandated that ''we're customer focused'' or the horrible platitude that ''the customer is always right.''

By keeping the people you serve at the center of the planning and execution, you'll not only have a clearer plan but you'll develop stronger brand lovers, etc. "You cannot serve two masters" + "in order to get everything you want in life help others get what they want."

And all of this applies equally well when applied on the personal level, as a small business, as a corporate entity, or as a church. Any time you're serving others it becomes a marketing and sales situation. Marketing to let people know who you are, whom you serve, and in what capacities. Sales to get people to take action for their own benefits.

What do you think is missing from my additions to their list?