As small businesses, in order to get noticed we have to push ourselves to relentless levels to be seen. We’re competing in a crowded space and it’s time consuming. If you throw in that you’re expected to advertise on platforms like Facebook you’ve got a 50/50 shot of getting it right, and a 100% chance of wasting money.
I’m gonna be up front and honest here. I really dislike Facebook. I find their business model unethical and they have shown they cannot be trusted with our data. The minute someone decides to advertise with them, they’re paying twice. With the cash they hand over, and the data they harvest on their behalf, which Facebook then makes money from.
What looks cheap, is far from cheap. Your time and money go into creating a campaign that may not even land well. There’s no guarantee you’ll get the sales you need from them in order to sustain your business. A percentage of all your sales will go to them in the form of ad revenue when you advertise with them.
Then we need to think about how biased they are towards women trying to advertise. They allow adverts for things like Viagra, but a hosiery brand in the UK was banned because it was implied the models were topless. There are story after story of female founders finding their ad accounts have been closed for no apparent reason.
To me, this is beyond unethical. It goes back to the core beliefs of its founder. Zuckerberg, who’s first incarnation of Facebook was to judge the appearance of women on his campus, after one rejected him. This is before we get to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
So why should we hand over our hard earned cash to a company that has shown it cannot be trusted? Why should we hand over our customer’s data to them, that makes us untrustworthy.
So I’d like to go back to basics. With a good story.
I find distilling my message down to a split second post that someone probably won’t engage with very hard and pretty demoralising. And I’ve worked in the advertising and marketing sector for a long time (albeit a specialist discipline & have been very anti-traditional marketing for a long time).
The thing is, you put me in front of someone, and I get really passionate. I could probably sell ice to an eskimo if you gave me 30 minutes with them. If you asked me to generate a Facebook marketing campaign, I’d be lucky to sell an icecube to a bartender.
The idea of Word of Mouth Advertising is nothing new. Ironically, I found out exactly how powerful it is when I worked on, of all things, a Facebook marketing campaign for Nivea. It was what we call a Friend-get-friend campaign. It was a cracker game, where you & a friend pulled a cracker, one of you would win a prize. Everytime. It was hugely successful (I designed the game flow interaction).
But think of this, have you ever gone out and bought something because a friend told you about how amazing something was? I bet the answer is yes. And I bet the experience was 10x better.
This is where influencer marketing comes from. It’s the same thing really. You follow someone and build a trust relationship with that person. They get more followers and brands have realised that it’s cheaper to give that person a product to try and then yell about from the houses, than it is to pay traditional print media to place an ad.
The problem is, the tide is starting to turn. There is a growing number of people who resent these people who get rich off of their followers. I’m in that camp.
I’m incredibly uncomfortable reading stories of young single mums who have to decide whether to feed themselves or their children. Yet you see the parents of 4 children, with 2m followers between them get Gusto kits for free. It’s unethical.
It’s also creating a class divide on social media that isn’t healthy.
In an ideal world, there wouldn’t need to be any advertising. We’d all just know stuff existed and we’d go to our preferred suppliers. Alas that’s not the world we live in.
I do, however, yearn for a much simpler existence, one where women who run businesses like I do, can get our message out without having to rely on the big F.
Which is why I’m starting the Word of Mouth Advertising Movement. Or WoMAM (if you say out loud, kinda sounds like Woman). It’s not aimed to defeat the likes of Facebook, simply to offer an ethical alternative to those who are much better at 30 minute stories than they are 30 second adverts.
It was always my intention when I created Angels Playing Skittles to hold space for other women. To share the love and stories about brands and women who would struggle to get heard. Now I’m making that happen.
I want you to steal this idea. It’s not a new idea. From whisper networks, to resistance fighters. Sharing stories via word of mouth is a simple but effective way of creating momentum. I want you to take this idea and build something out of it.