I just talked with a business owner for the first time.

He is quite pleased with his marketing results. He feels personally validated because more than 1000 people clicked the “like” button on his Facebook page.

Of course, it helps that if you invite 10 friends to “like” his Facebook page, (and send a message saying you did that) he puts your name into a drawing for an iPad.

Is it just me, or do you find this, um, how should I put this?


And from the purely practical side, how many of those 1000 people read his posts with respect (or even with interest?) And how many of those 1000 people are likely to enter into a transaction or partnership with him?

Some people get caught up in the “numbers game” of social media and feel that their campaigns are a raging success when they get to a certain number. They are measuring the wrong things. I would much rather have 10 people following my posts that are truly involved and interested in my field, and whose posts I will read and who I know have an interest in what I have to say; than 1000 people who signed up to win a prize.

Having 1000 “friends” gotten this way renders your social media account almost useless. You have no reason to believe any of these people are any more interested in your product or service than the general public, so you can’t expect them to respond to your questions or suggestions. You can’t ask them what they think about a potential product development. You can’t count on any significant percentage of them buying your product or referring you to others.

If I had met this business owner sooner, and if I had been asked for advice, I would have suggested this:

  1. Take the money he would have spent on his contest prizes, and use some other method (such as direct mail) for prospecting from a targeted list. Offer a low-priced item, free sample, or free consultation related to the product or service he’s offering in the marketing piece.
  2. Follow up with responders with a consistent, long-term, respectful drip campaign that might include social media, depending on the demographics of his target market.
  3. Measure the success of this effort by the amount of revenue generated in sales divided by the amount of money spent on the campaign. (Return on Investment.)

Of course, bribery can sometimes work, but only if it’s closely related to the product or service you sell. It’s much rather give away free information (in the form of an ebook or video that is highly targeted and  explains more about your area of expertise ) than a completely unrelated product that is of generic value to the general public.

When I was in Kindergarten or first grade, I was taught that isn’t not appropriate to give people money or toys to be friends with you, for two reasons – one, because it’s the wrong thing to do, and two, because you end up with the wrong kind of friends. Just because someone says they’re your friend doesn’t mean they really ARE your friend. And just because someone “likes” your Facebook page doesn’t mean they support, endorse or even approve of your company, product or service.  It just means that they were motivated to click a button.

On the other hand, it’s fine to be generous with information, or with gifts that are a suitable reward for people’s time. I give away an ebook in exchange for contact information. (Click here to get yours.) That’s been an excellent sales tool for us, because it’s valuable information to the right people – people who are a good fit for our services. It helps us find great clients and class members, while rewarding people for the time they spend with us.

It’s also fine to give gifts to people who are already carefully selected, valued friends. I bribe our Master Class members to complete assignments on time, complete surveys, and so on. Usually with books or additional information.  I also give thank you gifts for referrals.   So I’m not above bribery in principle, just in practice when it’s done in a way that demeans your business, product or service.

So, bribery does work. But selectively!  Have you tried bribing (revision- offering gifts or incentives?) to your clients or customers?  What have been your results?

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