Requests For Action
I’m not sure what I think about Requests For Action (RFA)â€¦ What I mean by that is that for instance, I’m about to take part for the second year in a row in a videoblogging series that a few of my friends and I do called “New in November” (newinnov.tumblr.com).
Personally, what I would do regarding the site/series is INFORM people that it’s going on or that it’s available. What I would NOT do is request for them to do something about it, such as follow it, reblog it, RT it and DEFINITELY NOT “Please rate my video 5 stars!” :/
To me, that defeats the purpose of the viewer watching your material and deciding that your video actually DESERVED 5 stars and clicking on the meter to indicate that. If you tell people what to do, many times, they’ll do it because you asked them to, not because they give a damn or actually think your show, product or service is any good. Also, lots of times, it’s not even because you asked them to, but rather because they don’t want to be perceived as “not down with the program”. It’s like how I originally dealt with Twitter, following back everyone that followed meâ€¦ out of “courtesy”. That’s something I picked up from friends of mine who were on Twitter for a full year before I found out about it two years ago. That didn’t work for me, so I don’t do that anymore. I follow whom I follow and whomever follows me follows me. Period.
OTOH..â€¦ There’s a very good reason to tell people what to do about your media. A lot of people aren’t aware that they can do things like click “like” on a Facebook post or leave a comment at the bottom of a blog post. A lot of people aren’t aware that they can rate YouTube videos or click the heart on Vimeo videos. It makes sense that you want to inform the uninformed about what they can do. I use a plugin for my site called “What Would Seth Godin Do?” which places a note at the top of my posts for the first five times someone comes to my site that says something like “You might want to subscribe blah blah blah” for that very reason. People come to my site and have no idea they can subscribe and get my posts in their email boxes or get my posts via RSS instead of having to check my site to see if I posted something new.
I also have “Share” links on my posts. That’s an opportunity, not a request. That saves people from having to go to actual websites like stumbleupon to add a post of mine. They can do it right from that link. I could also put “HEY! MAKE SURE YOU SHARE THIS WITH YOUR FRIENDS SO I CAN HAVE MORE TRAFFIC TO MY SITE!!! :D” on every single post, which I think would be incredibly obnoxious as well as ineffective.
Fishing For Compliments
I have the same issue with RFAs that I have with people that fish for compliments. When you fish for compliments, you look corny and desperate. People are more likely to tell you what you want to hear out of PITY than actually honestly feeling whatever they say. Also, people feel put on the spot when you fish for compliments. If you don’t deserve the compliment, you’ve put them between a rock and a hard place.
Do you look fat in that dress? HELLS YEAH YOU LOOK FAT IN THAT DRESS! but who’s actually going to say that? “Noooâ€¦ Noooâ€¦ Not at all. You look great. Have you been working out? :D”.. You’re forcing people to be fake with you by requesting that they tell you something that they weren’t offering. Maybe you’re going to look fat regardless of what you wear, and the dress isn’t actually the issue. Maybe you also look GOOD to the person you’re asking, regardless of whether you’re slim and trim or not. Did you think about THAT?â€¦
Having said that, I’m the type of person that doesn’t naturally say what I’m thinking. The question “How do you like my outfit?” may very well elicit a flood of natural comments an compliments that I was THINKING but not SAYING. However, that’s an open-ended question.. “How do you like X?” or even “DO you like X?”. It offers the listener the opportunity to give an honest opinion or no opinion at all. “This jacket looks Funky-Fresh, RIGHT???” puts the other person on the spot if they had just been thinking about how WACK your jacket looks and that they’re embarrassed to be seen with you right now.
So I guess I’m a fan of open-ended references. “Here’s this thing that’s going on” or “Here’s this new video or post I created” as opposed to “Go to my video, scroll down the page and click the meter to rate my video 5 stars”. For that, people may as well not watch your video at all, since all you want is the rating so your video can LOOK popular and appreciated when in reality it’s a bunch of your friends clicking 5-stars because you asked them to.
There are no ethics to this game, so I’m not suggesting what people should or shouldn’t do. If that’s how you get your props, by telling people what you want them to do and hoping they do it, good for you. How’s that workin’ for ya? 😉 I personally wouldn’t be satisfied with telling people how I want them to react to my media. You lose the ability to separate the real compliments from what’s written by people that are simply following orders. If you can’t tell when someone honestly enjoys and appreciates your media, what do you actually have?â€¦..
Then again, I do Social Media for fun. I enjoy expressing myself. I realize that other people are attempting to build businesses with this stuff and it’s important for them to appear to be popular and for their media to appear well-received, often-watched and usually rated “5 stars” in order to try to get a sponsorship or some kind of revenue-sharing deal or put affiliate links all over their sites or Google Ads or whatever they’re trying to do. Social Media for them is a means to an end instead of just being THE END. This is it. This is the expression. Tell me what you think about it VS Tell other people that you agree that my video is excellent. RATE THIS! vs RATE THIS 5 STARS! or maybe just Rate it if you feel like it…
I like pitches that offer the viewer/listener some kind of “value added” if they click on a link, such as “Click Here to learn how to make a Masquerade Mask! 😀”
That kind of pitch tells people WHAT THEY’RE GOING TO RECEIVE if they click on the link. That’s different from telling them WHAT THEY CAN DO FOR YOU by clicking the same link. In the video, Corinne says “make sure to show us some love by subscribing”. That makes perfect sense. If you love the show, SUBSCRIBE, so you get automatic updates. Also, their show, TheadBanger is a business, so their goal is to amass viewers and create, sustain and grow a community. I’m sure a lot of their clips get passed around in emails, etc so it’s likely that there are a lot of people that see it that wouldn’t be aware that it’s an ongoing series as opposed to a one-off, so it’s a good idea to make people aware that they CAN subscribe if they want to.
Still.. The draw is the content, the hosts and their generous utilization of UGC (User-Generated Content). Their fans can actually be ON the show with them if they send in videos/pictures of their personally-created fashion items. It’s like “Here’s more of what you enjoyed in the past” as opposed to “Here’s another opportunity for you to do me a favor and click on my ratings bar”. It’s still too early in the game to figure out whether directly telling people what to do is effective at all. It’s also too early to tell whether people’s personal reputations are being sullied by their constant shilling for whatever company they work for. Maybe none of this matters at all and I’m oversensitive to the issue because I know so many people that create media and I watch so much media online every day. \o/
The way I see it, RFAs and fishing for compliments are both signs of desperation and they’re not pretty. 🙂 If people think your video’s worth 5 stars, they’ll rate it. If people want to say something, they’ll comment. If people want to share your posts with their friends, they will. Make it as easy for them to do that if they feel like it and even though your community will be smaller, it’ll be much more passionate, dedicated and interested in what you have to say.
~ Bill Cammack | @BillCammack