You’ve just come home from work/college/shopping or whatever it was and on your way you were saying to yourself: “Well, today I’m finally going to get cranking with that bloody _______! (fill in the blank).” You’ve actually cleared out 2 hours of your busy schedule, kids are in bed and your hamster has been fed. As you’re firing up your machine, a sneaky thought pops into your mind. “It’s actually been almost 4 hours since I’ve been on Facebook,” you’re thinking as the Windows welcome chime echoes, “Isn’t it time I’ve had a look again?” Well, Facebook shows up with all its white-blue glory. You start going through your news feed and the next thing you know – it’s midnight…
OK, here’s a confession: Although I’m an Internet marketer and all that, I’m not a huge Facebook fan. I hardly spend 15 minutes a day on it on average, unless I really need more time for marketing purposes. What strikes me as odd though, is how many people get totally addicted to that social network, and spend hours upon hours ‘liking’ and commenting on photos like children at their first time in Disneyland.
Well, if Zuck can get his fans hooked, why can’t you?
That’s the thought that crossed my mind last time I saw my sis’ logging into her blue-white temple of joy.
Now I better get on with it before the Palo Alto guys mess up with their layout again…
#1: Keep it simple
While Facebook is anything but simple, to my mind, I find their Welcome Page (before you log in) incredibly effective. The page is purpose-built and there are two basic elements on it:
- The login area that stands out as it’s located at the top and is given the most contrast.
- The Signup area that takes most of the space. Here’s why the signup section works so well: There’s a clear call to action (Sign up) and an incentive (It’s free and always will be). And it’s super fast and easy to join. All you need to do is to give your name, email, gender and birthday and you’re in business.
- Stick to what matters most. Facebook is a multi-billion dollar company and you bet they could afford a much more posh design with all the shiny objects you could think of. Yet they’ve chosen a fairly simple layout. Why? Because it converts! For the same reason that many other basic squeeze pages work. If all you need are your prospect’s name and email, make it easy for them and don’t add social icons, links or other distractions. Likewise, don’t exhaust your audience by asking for their phone number, home address or their kitten’s maiden name.
- Tell them what they need to do and why. No matter how beautiful your page is and how many bells and whistles it sports, if you don’t tell your visitors what you want them to do, they simply won’t do it. That’s human nature! If you want them to comment on your post, ask them for feedback. If you want them to share your content on social media, tell them how much effort you’ve put into creating it and ask them to share the love so that others can benefit from it. If you want them to sign up to your newsletter ask them to fill in their name & email and tell them why (because they get this & that for free… benefits, benefits, benefits…).
- Build purpose-built pages and guide your users. Having an opt-in box and lightboxes (PopUp Domination is my favorite) is a no-brainer when creating a blog or a website. All the while, a stand-alone page whose sole purpose is to drive your visitor to take a certain type of action is far more effective. Look at Facebook’s homepage. You can’t go wrong here – You can either log in or sign up. That’s what you want – build simple, purpose-built pages where there’s only one clear course of action to be taken.
#2: Get the inside out
As I log in I land on my Facebook Home Page. Everything, or at least most of what I need to know is right in front of me. In the middle there’s my newsfeed (more on that soon) with the latest updates, likes and comments from your friends. The 3 top-left icons will tell me if there’s a new friend request, message or notification. If you’re like me you just can’t ignore these white-red numbers. You’ve got to click them! Left and right sidebars give us a quick summery of upcoming events, friend suggestions, pokes, groups, friends on chat and so on.
Whether you have a business site, a portfolio site, a social network or a blog there’s a lesson for you here: Get your site out there! Show off your goods! What do I mean by that? You often see blogs with great content, which is, unfortunately, buried within the archives. What a shame! If your content is great, give your visitors a sneak preview of it as they enter your site. Be it videos, photos or articles – feature them on your homepage and give your visitors a reason to stay in your site and keep digging it.
#3: Make sure they stay
You may have not noticed it as you’re so used to Facebook, but apart from the sidebar ads and the links that are shared around by users, there is nothing else to draw you away from the network. Make no mistake; it’s all made by design. Facebook is an eco-system and Zuck & co would like you to stay inside. You want to watch YouTube? No problem. Photos? There’s plenty of albums, browse away… Chat? It’s right here, just start typing. We’ll give you anything you like. Just bear with us. You’ve got nothing better to do anyway, right?
One of my favorite bloggers, Michael Dunlop, has talked about this principle extensively on his Income Diary. He calls it The No Leakage Rule. Essentially it means that you give your visitors no reason to click away from your site, unless they go to an affiliate link. In other words:
- Avoid banners and sidebar adverts to sway your visitors away.
- Try to use affiliate links to relevant sites within your articles.
- Interlink posts and use the Related Posts WordPress plug-in so that your users spend more time in your site. (also great for SEO).
- Eye-catchy boxes that showcase popular posts in key positions will also attract eyeballs and keep your readers in the loop.
#4: Give them instant feedback & gratification
I keep going through my friends’ feed, liking and commenting till my fingers hurt. Suddenly, up pops a bluish bubble on the left, telling me that Colette Mason has commented on my status. At the same time a number appears on my Facebook tab and the Notifications icon gets highlighted as well. There is no way I can ignore this comment, whether I’m on the network or I’ve gone away for a split second. I reply to the comment only to receive another popup telling me that my sis’ has liked my photo. I’ve got to see which photo she’s talking about, right? On the right a new page recommendation catches my eye. It’s about SEO and I like it. Facebook instantly tells me that I like it. And here’s another page coming… Another hour has gone…
Much has been written on how short our attention span has become in the Internet age. Guess what? It’s only getting shorter. Look how popular video and mobile are getting and you’ll realize that there’s no room for too much blurb (unless you’re a chatterbox like me, that is) or for more than a few seconds to get feedback or a desired action. Your followers want it here & now and you better give it to them or they’ll go elsewhere.
- Streamline your sales process. Make sure your visitor can get what he/she seeks (product download, product order etc.) with the minimum amount of clicks.
#5: Social proof evokes trust and credibility
As I’m paying a virtual visit to one of my Facebook friends I find out that we have 70 mutual friends, are both into business and that she likes the North Social fan page. Well, it can’t be that bad if she likes it, can it? I hit like. I scroll down her profile only to see a post with 34 comments and 6 likes. It must be interesting/really funny so I join in…
Social proof is probably the best way to gain your audience’s trust today. Amazon and Cnet use it incredibly well with their costumers review system. As a buyer you’re more likely to trust your peers’ opinions than that of the product’s owner. YouTube, Facebook and almost any blog tell us how many comments others have written and we are often encouraged to subscribe to a blog because 10k other people have done. We are social animals and we feel much better off walking a path others have already walked before us. Use this fact to your advantage and you’ll get more costumers and more business!
- When your site reaches a critical mass of visitors, Twitter followers and RSS/Email subscribers, display these numbers to attract more people. You can use Alexa, StatCounter, FeedBurner and Twitter Counter for that.
- Display the number of comments on your site/blog’s homepage. Even if you’ve got a business site, have a section where you show the latest comments. You can use your comments RSS feed for that.
- When a post/video gains momentum and gets lots of comments, tweet about it (thanks @chrisbrogan for this tip) and send a broadcast to your list inviting more people to join the discussion.
#6: Keep your audience in the loop by emailing them
“OK, enough of Facebook for today!” I mutter as I sign out. “Time for some productivity!” I open my email…
After an hour of going through Adam, you’ve made a sale! & Groupon free hairstyle emails, One subject line that catches my eye. It’s from Facebook and they’re saying: Colette Mason commented on your status. Wait a minute… Colette has commented on my status? I’ve got to know what she said! I’m back in the game…
By default, Facebook emails you all your notifications. As you’ll see in the image the list is quite long (this is just the beginning) and it can easily clutter your inbox if you don’t properly filter and label your messages. However, there’s a lesson for us here – emails are an effective way not only for selling to your list but also for keeping your audience in the loop, and getting them to come back to your site and comment on your posts. This has been proven to work for Facebook and there’s no reason it can’t work for you. Just don’t go overboard with it☺
- Whenever there’s a major thing going in your site, like a new blog post, a redesign your site has undergone, a new section, a new product launch and so on, send a broadcast to your list about it.
- If you’re on WordPress (you should be ) install the Thank Me Later plug-in to encourage commentators to visit your blog again.
#7: Spread the brand
I shut off Facebook for the final time. I then head on to a few of my favorite marketing blogs, to check the news. But low and behold, the blue-white squad won’t leave me alone. They’re all over the place! There’s a sidebar with a like box here, a like button there, ‘Connect with Facebook’ on another site and the list goes on. As I go out for some air there’s a bus turning and on its back there’s a Coke advert telling me to search for ‘Coca Cola’ on Facebook.
Facebook is a powerful brand. On 2011 it made its debut into The BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands list. Your site doesn’t need to be the next Facebook in order to be successful. But one thing you do need is a powerful brand. You see – Facebook’s blue-white brand is so powerful that even if we just see that F logo we immediately associate it with the social network. Facebook has created tools to enable site owners to showcase their fan pages on their websites, and to allow their users to comment on their posts using their Facebook accounts. These are just two examples of how the Palo Alto wizards extend their brand beyond their ‘homeland’.
- Create your own powerful brand. If you’re a 1-man-band, brand yourself.
- Whatever you do, be consistent. Choose a style, a color scheme and a font set and stick to it. Everywhere – in your website, your Twitter background, your emails, your About.me profile, YouTube channel, business card etc. It’s your brand and if you take it seriously, so will others.
- Whether you’re selling a product or simply need traffic to your site, create banners that you or your affiliates could use to promote it. Keep your banner’s design in concert with your brand identity.
What about you?
Are you addicted to Facebook?
What are you doing to make your site(s) more addictive?
Let us know your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.
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