Experimentation is part and parcel of B2B marketing and lead generation. You’ll always be mixing and matching forms of communication. Lists have to be always refined to adapt in changing target markets. Also, being risk-averse is just not generally good for business in general.
So why then is Facebook getting a lot of public flak after a journal published the results of its own psych experiment?
Before you jump on the bandwagon, know that marketers would have a lot at stake if this was a classic case of invasive practices. Acquiring information using marketing tactics has been the MO of many since the dawn of the internet. To say that Facebook employs a ‘conspiracy’ of using a free service to steal people’s personal information would the same thing can be said of those other marketers. Do you use free downloads to acquire prospect information? Guilty. Do you register the folks who signed up during your little tradeshow? Oh noes.
Hence, it’s actually ridiculous to think you’ll land in trouble for such practices. What may be putting Facebook on the hot seat was that this experiment was done and nobody knew it.
Remember, Facebook’s main product is the network itself and the information it creates. Everything from the advertising it sells to regular use of its consumers is tied to the network.
So at its heart, what the experiment really did wrong was alter that very product and all customers didn’t know. This is a dangerous move for any company. Why would you tamper with your product just as its being used by your customers?
Imagine yourself running a pizza parlor. Would you slip in an experimental ingredient in your next customer’s pizza or would you rather taste test it yourself alongside some volunteers? If you answered the latter, congratulations. You’re less likely to get sued.
Other marketers have also called out Facebook’s actions, calling the company growing in arrogance and lack of concern for its own users. This is just counterintuitive from a business standpoint, no matter what your industry. Remember:
- Your customers pay for you – The goal of your lead generation strategy is to send more prospects towards your sales reps, not running away from them. Without them, you essentially have no revenue.
- Your product pays for you – You can’t attract customers without something they’d like to buy. B2C or B2B, a product that seems wonky or acting out is bound to score low points and low sales. Again, not good news for revenue.
Why on earth would you do something that will compromise both? There’s a reason why revelations of any secret experiment is often followed by mass panic. You are catching people unaware of any side effects an experiment would have on your products and your customers.
So to set the record straight? Avoid the secrecy. There is nothing wrong with experimenting to improve customer experience provided that the customer actually knows about what is being experimented.