Whenever a friend messages me on Facebook Messenger, I get a push notification on my Android phone. I swipe down, and see the below.
I’ve been wondering why Facebook has a thumbs up sign and gives users the option to “like” the message at this point in the user flow.
I haven’t even read the message yet. I don’t know what it says. Why would I preemptively “like” it without knowing the content?
I understand that Facebook wants to make the thumbs up sign a universal, instantly-recognizable symbol associated with Facebook.
Maybe a marketer said, “We want to train customers to get in the habit of ‘liking’ things. We want people to like more frequently so it becomes a normal part of the way they use the internet. Let’s add a ‘like’ button wherever we can. ”
So an engineer added this button which gives users the option to “like” a message when they get a push notification that a message just rolled in.
Except this feature does not make sense when you consider the user flow. People read message content first, then decide if they want to “like” it. Not the other way around.
[Edit: A reader shared that my notification setting doesn’t show a message preview. I realize that some people have the preview on, so “liking” a message at that stage might make sense. But if you are giving users the option to have the preview off, then you should also remove the “like” button when the preview is off.]
I wholly applaud the genius behind the “like” button in general. I’m not debating that at all. It’s effective at letting consumers chime in on a topic and express support with little friction. When repeated, people get in the habit of clicking “like” regularly, which increases engagement metrics.
There are even articles now about people trying to avoid “liking” things on Facebook just to see if they can, which shows how much the feature has become a normal part of the user experience on Facebook.
But no matter how much you want to promote something, you have to acknowledge the reality of user flow. Acknowledge that people don’t “like” personal messages before even reading what it is.
Interestingly, people do “like” and share without fully reading articles. I thought that was interesting and will admit that I’ve done it myself before. The difference is that with articles, you can see the title and maybe an excerpt before sending, so you have a general idea of what the content is about. Then you share it with someone you think might find it interesting.
With a personal message on a push notification (per my above screenshot), you have no idea what that message is, so it makes it harder for people to “like” it at that point. And you definitely wouldn’t share a message without even knowing what it said.
I’m curious about the data behind how many users actually “like” a message on this push notification screen without having seen the message first. It’s possible that people do use it, but we’d need access to Facebook’s user data in order to determine that. I bet it’s not many.
I saw this Dodgers ad at a 76 gas station in LA. I took the photo through the front windshield in the car when my friend was getting gas.
This ad gets you — the audience — to visualize what it’s like to sit in the exact seats that are pictured here. The ad looks deceivingly simple, but it’s a brilliant use of psychology in marketing.
Research shows that visualization is a powerful psychological technique that helps people perform better at a task when they imagine themselves going through the motions.
Psychotherapists and athletes have using visualization for years. Jack Nicklaus, one of the most accomplished professional golfers in history, said: “I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp in-focus picture of it in my head.”
What’s impressive about this ad is that a brand, the Dodger’s franchise, is getting people to visualize themselves as a customers who buy a ticket and go to a Dodger’s game.
1. Because of the perspective of the photo of the seats, I’m sitting here looking at those seats, and I can imagine myself sitting in them.
This ad is probably great at targeting couples. I happened to be at the gas station with a friend, and I thought, “Oh this could be fun. We should go to a baseball game together.” Usually when you’re at a game, you only talk to the person next to you, so the ad reflects the nature of that experience. It’s just you and your date, or group of friends, sitting in a row watching the game.
2. The message — both the text and image — is simple.
This ad is pretty straightforward and there’s only so much you can look at. There’s the message copy, the Dodger’s logo, and the seats. The uncluttered layout does a good job of focusing the customer’s attention.
3. The ad uses the word “free” and high contrast colors in an elegant way.
The word “free” is always a crowd-pleaser, but sometimes it can look tacky. It can offer the impression that the brand is selling based on price alone, which is okay for some product categories. Typically though, brands want to stay away from leading with pricing as a main message.
Here it’s done elegantly and it stands out even more because of the high contrast between the red and blue.
Studies in the psychology of color show that high contrast color combinations are effective. For example, a website did A/B testing on a website that had a green color scheme, and found that changing the call-to-action button from green to red (a high contrast color) significantly increased click-through rate.
[Edit: A blog reader shared that the Dodger’s jerseys have the player’s number in red, with the team logo in blue. So this ad is actually even more clever because it’s a nod to that format and adds an additional layer of meaning.]
4. It stands out from most stadium ads, so it attracts attention.
When things look different from what we expect, people tend to remember it more. In psychology, this is called the Von Restorff effect - it’s the bias for remembering things that are unusual or stand out in some way.
Usually sports ads feature a panoramic view of the stadium, a few testosterone-charged baseball players in action, and fans wearing jerseys and waving foam fingers.
Not this ad. This is ad stands out because it presents a different view.
It’s just two seats. You and your +1. Who would you take if you got a free ticket? Your girlfriend? Your buddy? Yes, that sounds like a good idea. Now go inside the 76 store and talk to the clerk about buying one of those tickets….
Visualization. If you can get your customers to do it, to imagine themselves buying from you, you are that much closer to a new customer.
The Huffington Post: The Academy’s Tribute Tweet for Robin Williams Backfired. So Why Did People Forgive It?
I wrote a marketing analysis about the Academy’s viral tweet and it was published in the Tech section of The Huffington Post. Very excited and thankful for being able to share my thoughts on marketing with a broader audience. Check out an excerpt below or read the full story on The Huffington Post.
What happens when you write a tweet meant to pay tribute to one of the greatest and most beloved comedians in the world, the tweet is viewed 78 million times, and it turns out that you might have unintentionally promoted suicide?
The Academy’s “You’re free, Genie” tweet in response to Robin Williams’ death did just that, and has since sparked widespread controversy. The Academy likely intended for the text and image of the genie hugging Aladdin to be heartfelt and poignant. For the first 12 hours, the general public agreed: Over 300,000 people re-tweeted and 210,000 favorited.
But things took a turn when the Washington Post published an article the next day stating that the Academy’s message seemed to glorify the idea of suicide. According to the article, the tweet “violates well-established public health standards for how we talk about suicide,” and the chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention said, “If it doesn’t cross the line, it comes very, very close to it.”
Wait, the stakes get even higher. Research shows that inappropriate and romanticized messaging about suicide has been associated with “a statistically significant excess of suicides.” Translation? Careless tweets can literally cost lives.
When you do something differently from what your customers are used to, you need to address the issue directly. You need to let them know that your new feature is intentional, not an oversight due to negligence or bad design. This is especially true if your new feature is something that can be misinterpreted.
For example, let’s look at the tea category. Consumers are used to seeing tea bags with a string and tag. If you don’t have a string or tag on yours, what might they think?
"This company is so cheap. They don’t even put string on their tea bags. This is not the premium tea experience I’m looking for."
- Complain about quality control
- Criticize your bad product design
- Feel frustrated that your product lacks what all other competitors in the category have
How do you solve this problem? By proactively communicating that what you’re doing is intentional.
This tea company proactively addresses potential misunderstandings or questions, by adding a message directly on the package flap that customers see right before they take out a tea bag. (If you put it on the side of the box, customers might miss it in the crucial moment right when they are taking out a tea bag.)
"Our unique pillow-style tea bag is the result of our commitment to doing what’s best for the environment. Because these natural fiber tea bags don’t need strings, tags, staples or individual wrappers, we’re able to save more than 3.5 million pounds of waste from entering landfills every year!"
So now, the customer doesn’t think that the company is cheap or forgetful.
Now they think, "Wow, this brand is really forward-thinking. They care about the environment and have even created packaging that allows them to save millions of pounds of waste, without impacting my tea experience. I didn’t really need the string or tag anyway. Why don’t all brands get rid of those pesky things?”
You’ll see hotels use this type of messaging when they offer guests the option to re-use towels. They position the action as reducing environmental impact to avoid guests thinking that the hotel is simply trying to cut costs, which paints the company in an unsavory light.
Another time when it’s important to say “this is intentional,” is when you have products with subtle variations due to their handmade nature. This is the case for denim, tie dye, hand-painted products, hand-sewn beading on clothes, etc.
Again, the brilliant idea behind this tag from a Rebecca Minkoff purse is that the brand communicates that variations in product quality are intentional. They even tell you to look for differences in color, marks, and grain in the leather, and to notice how the foil embossing fades over time. This goes one step beyond explaining. The brand actually highlights the impending wear-and-tear.
This creates a sense of pride so that each customer feels like her purse is truly hers and will develop with her over time. When the purse does in fact fade, you’re not surprised and angry — you’re excited that this product has grown with you.
This concept applies to products outside of consumer goods and retail. Anytime you have a product feature that is different from the industry norm, or what your brand has traditionally done in the past, you need to make sure customers know that your product decisions are intentional, deliberate, and thoughtful.
Set customer expectations up front. Communicate why you chose to create a product this way and use it as an opportunity to elaborate on your brand decisions.