Okay, so anyone and everyone who is trying to run a business is wondering how the whole “social media” thing might help out–or should be IMNSDHO. There is, however, a big potential down side to using such media for getting exposure for your business as I see it: how do you avoid crossing the line into spamming?
Social media, by definition, is supposed to be a place where the participants can relax, let their proverbial hair down, and socialize. Who wants that activity interrupted by commercial spots? Come on: outside of the Super Bowl (if even then), who really LIKES to have their TV show interrupted by commercials? There are some (I’m close to this at times) who feel that any unsolicited commercial information–any at all–is unwelcome spam.
Wow, that puts the would-be entrepreneur into a real pickle, doesn’t it? You can restrict your marketing output to those who opt in through some means, but how do you get them into the position of deciding whether to opt in? There’s a kind of catch-22 in there, no? Facebook (and Twitter, and probably others) is already full of would-be entrepreneurs busily trying to tap into the flow of literally millions of potential eyeballs—and many just end up being annoying and subsequently alienating their hoped-for audience.
Wouldn’t it be cool if there were a way to attract viewers to your wares without thrusting the advertising in their figurative faces? Thanks to the ingenious efforts of Facebook entrepreneurs, there is.
I first heard of the so-called “Link Love” program accidentally. As one of those entrepreneur wannabes I spend no small amount of time engaged in the social media scene, trying to expand my contacts while working hard not to cross any lines. In one of my Facebook sessions I happened across the “fan page” (business page, really, but the semantics of the Facebook interface are interesting) for a fun, crafty business called Runway Crochet. Something—maybe it was the hot cartoon babe in the backless party dress she uses for an avatar—led me to do more than my usual skimming of the wall posts. She seemed pretty caffeinated about something called “Link Love,” and it was related to people collecting nice fan totals for their pages. Considering at the time my own little fan page had collected a grand total of five fans, including me, I was intrigued and did some research into the idea.
Here’s how it works:
Participants create a related thread in their fan page’s Discussion forum, inviting visitors to post links to their own fan pages. Then you go out, using the aforementioned Discussion thread of any participant as a starting point, and visit the posted fan page links. If you see something you like, become a fan of their page as you normally would, but also leave your link in their thread and invite them to come reciprocate. Assuming they do, now both their thread and yours become growing repositories of links of potential interest, and the entire network grows.
It’s that simple.
Other people are doing the same and, as they come across your posts on various pages, they might be motivated to visit yours, become a fan, and (and here’s the pay-off) maybe even become interested in what you’re selling. Think of it as a catalog of Facebook-based business pages, and a forum for placing free ads in a place that—far from calling them out as spam—actually WELCOMES your post. Advertising is all about getting eyeballs on your sales pitch, right?
What’s the ROI? This is an unofficial network and I doubt anyone has hard numbers on click-through or conversion rates, but here’s anecdotal evidence: I spent maybe an hour at first, becoming a fan of various pages and spreading my own link out there. Overnight my fan total jumped from five to over 50. Two days later it was over 100, and within 24 hours of that event it had more than doubled to over 200. I’m sure I’ve been riding an initial surge, and as the other “members” eventually make it to my page I’ll be down to new arrivals and the rate will taper off, but the “Love Link” base appears to be growing every day, so we’ll see.
As for where lies the plateau, the lady running the page where I started hosts regular “parties” wherein she lauds various members who’ve achieved milestones in their own fan growth. I’ve seen several boasting totals of several hundred–or even in the thousands. And this is all coming from free advertising: you only invest your time (and of course it helps if your page and what it offers is at least reasonably attractive). Since Facebook charges you per click to get essentially the same results (arguably by paying them you’d start with a broader beginning base, but social media is about relationship building after all), for me the program is a no-brainer.
So check it out—and while you’re at it, visit my Spinland Studios fan page and share some Link Love. 😉
Editor’s Note: Since I posted this it’s come to my attention there are those forces out there who are opposed to this model. I’m not sure what all of the reasons might be, and it’s a truism that you can find a group of people opposed to ANYTHING if you look hard enough, but I’ll anticipate at least one potential objection that I see: you’re not getting “real fans,” rather just people who want you to “fan them back.”
Let me repeat what I said above: the objective of any advertising is to get as many eyeballs as possible on your pitch. I challenge you to do an unbiased comparison of the quality of the eyes that LL brings to your sales pitch, versus that of the eyes that see, say, your typical (read: moronic) television ad. At least with LL you’re pitching to an engaged and sympathetic audience who wants to be there! If your stuff isn’t good enough to draw some attention from the stream of such folks you’re bringing in…you have more serious problems than perhaps you realize.