Yes, I got a "Golden Ticket" and a FREE pair of Gap Jeans!
I was one of the first 10,000 people to check into Gap on Facebook Places Friday Nov. 5th 2010 and claimed their Facebook Deal. Earlier this week Facebook announced the launch of Facebook Deals with Facebook Places; a location based application within Facebook taking on FourSquare, Gowalla and in some ways Yelp. Facebook Places was launched in August with little reception. But as always Facebook ups the ante with their newest addition; Facebook Deals. With Place and Deals businesses can offer deals, coupons and incentives for people to check in.
Facebook Places "Deals" Gap a Huge Success or Does it? Fast Company looked at a few stores in NYC who seemed carry out the promotion with little problems. I assume patrons of a Gap in NYC for the most part will be more tech savvy than other parts of the country. There was obvious confusion even at my store with people showing up with Blackberrys which don't have Place and Deals yet who were mad they couldn't check in and people who had printed the screen from the event page where they had typed the words "I'm checked in". Stop your laughing... Honestly, I'm thrilled with my new jeans but didn't see anyone buying anything other than their jeans so within minutes of being open this one store alone had sent 14 pairs of jeans out the door putting that store down for the day by $840. I'd be interested to hear if this promotion brought more sales to the stores than a normal Friday 7 weeks before Christmas.
So, what does this have to do with real estate marketing and training?
It may sound harsh but I think there are times we give more credit to the general public in their ability to use technology in every market. Yes, QR codes, fancy walk through tours on UStream and all the fun stuff are great because it gives us more ways to expose our listings, business and/or services to a larger number of people but if you are going to be using these fancy tools Facebook Place and Deal have reminded us that it's important to not forget that a large portion of the public is not going to know how to participate in our community or be comfortable purchasing until we educate them.
Like many of us that put buyers in our car without consultation or throw QR codes out there without instruction Facebook had not set out clear directions and expectation. I was familiar with a large number of location based apps so I understood what Facebook was trying to do but over half the people in line at my store didn't know how to check in and had printed the "I'm attending" page from Facebook and/or had blackberry or other non-smart phones. It was clear from feedback on large tech websites like Mashable that a majority of their audience didn't understand Facebook Places, were getting angry at Gap and in many ways the promotion had backfired. Facebook and Gap made the assumption that since 250 Million people log in everyday to play games, post photos and connect with friends that they also knew how to use cutting edge technology without details instruction, reminders and even a trial run. Again reminding us of the need to make sure of clients understand the process and not assuming.
Ok, so they forgot the instruction guide...No problem since we live in an online now world and Facebook and Gap both have instant access to the web right? As soon as they saw some confusion they could just post something on their event wall explaining in greater detail how to participate in the event... Unfortunately there was nobody from Gap or Facebook online who was managing their very active and restless community who was providing negative feedback. All day long there was mass chaos on this page with people checking in online at that page by the thousands that were lost and didn't know what to do with no guidance from Facebook or reps from Gap. My point to this in real estate is that it is important to interact with your community whether online or offline. Just because you have some great deal on a house if you just post that or leave flyers at a networking event and never follow up or come back to interact you may be losing more business than you gained.
Finally, you can't make everyone happy. Even if you have good intentions going into things there is always going to be a certain portion of the population you can not please and there are some marketing plans that don't work out like you had intended. Take a lesson from Facebook and keep working at it. Keep trying new things. Keep trying to get your community to understand what you do and how to best utilize your services.
In this case I was happy because I was one of the 10,000 that got a free pair of Jeans from Gap, didn't have to wait in line more than 5 minutes and met 2 true leaders in social media who were there reporting and also getting their free jeans. It was my first check in on Facebook and these are the first pair of Gap Jeans I own so in my case they probably hit their target market because I like the combination of location based apps with coupons in general. Heck, tonight I checked in a Office Depot when I was out buying ink just because they have a deal/offer for $10 off $25. For those of you worried... I ran home to make sure nobody robbed my house when they found out I was at Office Depot :)
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