First, this article is not intended to be the definitive of social psychology for Facebook. This discussion is based on three pieces of information: Social network user data provided by Quantcast, rigorous observation, and anecdotal evidence.
Do your own observations. You will quickly see you have created a neighborhood made up of a variety of people called “friends” and that is the way they want to be treated, and the way you should treat them.
One of Four Facebook Users are in the Wine Consumer Demographic
Facebook is one of the most popular social media networks in the world, with an estimated 250 million users. Users range from small children to senior citizens with more members added every day. Most businesses and marketers see these individuals as fertile ground for sales. How do Facebook users fit into the wine industry?
54% of Facebook users are female
26% of Facebook users are over the age of 35
29% of Facebook users have an average income about $100K
42% of Facebook users have a college education, 14% have a graduate degree.
These Facebook statistics overlap the target wine industry consumer, suggesting that 1 in 4 people are within the target market as wine buyers. These numbers make it very tempting for marketers and business to promote their products and services on Facebook in the same manner as they would in print or tv media. However, there is a difference.
The psychology of Facebook through the user
Facebook is personal. It is a place where high school friends reconnect, family stays connected, and new friendships are developed. It is a place where people talk about their day, their lives and their thoughts. For the majority of Facebook users, it is family and friend time.
You can think of Facebook like a family or high school reunion. It’s casual and filled with a myriad of personal comments, nonsense, games, and widgets that allow people to share some small part of their lives. Your Facebook friends expect that you will participate with them. In Facebook terms, you will comment on their status updates, participate in their causes, and engage with them. They also anticipate that you will share a piece of yourself. They want you to be a personal, active, contributing member of their community. You will need to think as if you were face to face with these people, not an outsider looking in.
Consequences for Unwritten Rules
The expectations, norms, and rules of Facebook are not in writing. Yet, there are consequences for violating these rules. What are these unwritten rules? Simply phrased, “You will act like a friend would act”. That’s it. If you are not willing to behave, or write like a friend would, then you risk the consequences.
There are two basic consequences in Facebook for not abiding by the rules. The first, and most obvious, is that people will remove you from their friends list. Unfortunately, they may also tell their other friends to remove you too. It happens. I know. I have done it. I also have had it done to me. The second consequence is even more detrimental.
It is possible to get “hidden” in Facebook. This is the worst scenario because if you are “hidden” from the News Feed you will never know about it. You could have written hundreds of status updates, but no one is seeing them because they hit the “Hide” button. This is disastrous. Why? Because it is extremely difficult to get unhidden. There are only three ways I know of to become visible again. One, start a new account and invite your friends to join and be personable. Two, encourage your close friends and family to comment frequently about your updates, demonstrating you are an active contributing member in the community. Three, have more people talk about you in a positive personal way. Even if you were to use these methods there is still no guarantee you will be “unhidden”. However, you will at least given yourself the best opportunity. How do you avoid this happening to you and your wine business? Focus on relating to people, not marketing to them.
Prescriptions for the Wine Industry on Facebook
1. Be a real person first, be a wine business second
The people that you connect with are called “friends”. In order to be a friend you must act like a friend. Be personable. Be real. Be who you are. Talk about things that friends talk about. Get involved with their lives. Comment on their updates where you feel comfortable. Be witty. Be clever. Just be a friend.. Once users know you as a person, they will want to know more about what you do. What you do is wine. They will want to know more about that too.
2. Change your expectations concerning Facebook
Many of the problems that businesses have with Facebook, or any social media for that matter, is their expectations for immediate sales. You need to change your expectations. Facebook may help with more sales, but it will most tangibly result in more consumer loyalty. The psychology works like this: The more we know someone personally the more we want to do business with them and extend our loyalty to them.
3. Use a personal photo, not your logo
People connect with people; people do not connect with a logo. Pictures of people are inviting; pictures of logos or words are devoid of emotion. Photos create emotions. Part of Facebook’s allure is the emotional element. Remember this is a communication medium. It’s much easier to communicate if I can see a face.
4. Make “comments” and “like” other’s status updates.
If you want to make a real connection without being “removed” or “hidden”, participate in the Facebook community by using “comment” and “like”. You do not have to comment on everything. You don’t have to like everything. You just need to do enough to let the community know you are viable member and contributing to making the Facebook community a better place for everyone. Remember Facebook is similar to your real life local community. The more you do to make it better for everyone, the more people want to become involved with you.
5. If You are Going to Market, Promote the Experience Not the Product.
Be very careful about self promotion. You wouldn’t scream advertisements to your friends when you are with them in person. You shouldn’t do it on Facebook either. Your best promotions on Facebook are when your friends, unsolicited by you, share the joys of your wine. When you do a status update on Facebook try to create an experience with your wine. Be human, be clever, be engaging, experiential, funny, be creative. You will find it is sometimes the most mundane things you say that get the biggest response. Below I have few examples of status updates that can speak to your wine, without advertising it.
“Bob, Jane and Mary, came over to watch a movie, we opened a (insert winery here). It was great with buttery popcorn”.
“Sitting on the back deck with my spouse, opened a bottle of (insert wine here) life just doesn’t get better than this”.
“We had 50 people came to the winery today. It was great to meet them. I especially enjoyed my conversation with (person’s name). S/he said that the (insert wine here) was their favorite. I love watching people enjoy our creation”.
“Grilling steak with my friends, Steve and Sally…opened a (insert wine here) it even made my grilling skills taste good”.
Ultimately I suggest one overriding principle. Just be a friend.
Don’t I choose my friends?
Yes. However, you are in the wine industry. If someone fits within your market and wants to be a friend (regardless of their reasons) can you really afford to turn them away? He or she could be a potential consumer.
If they are my friends shouldn’t they expect me to be promotional?
Yes and no. They do expect that from time to time you will talk about your wine. However, if that’s all you do, where is the friend part? You are in the wine industry. More than likely many of these people became friends with you not only because of the wine, but because they wanted to interact with a public personality. Let’s be honest, we, enjoy being known by someone famous. It increases our status among our peers and also raises our self-esteem.
If Facebook is about personal relationships then maybe it’s not for the wine industry?
No, it can be very beneficial to the wine industry. You simply have to utilize Facebook differently. Facebook is not about direct marketing; it is about relationship marketing. If people see the “real” you, then they have a connection with you. As the connection grows stronger, these people will become your biggest fans. You will not have to promote your wine. Your “friends” will do the promotions for you because they like you (and hopefully your wine). At last check, the most powerful marketing tool in the wine industry has been word of mouth. By being personal you increase the number of mouths that are “evangelizing” your winery.
Should I start a group?
You could. However, very little research is available with regard to the success of Facebook groups. If you start a group, then you need to be active. Groups often get started and then quickly get forgotten. In my observation, successful groups are interactive.
Next up…Understanding Twitter Psychology
As always if you have any questions make a comment or email me WineWebVine