Facebook Anthropology: The Moocher
This is my first entry for a journal that describes the types (species) of people living within the online network. This entry deals with a specific genus found living in the Facebook environment. Further entries may, or may not follow.
For the past few months, I’ve been in charge of a small online community for a brand catering to a niche market. It uses Facebook’s “Page” feature as one of its channels. Because the community is small, it allowed me to get to know the people within it more intimately. When I started interacting with the community, a small subculture started to emerge. I realised that there are a few people “Like-ing” my page for one very specific reason – it’s because I was giving away things for free (competitions, “nice gesture” gifts, etc etc). And the more I looked around the more I realised that I wasn’t the only one they “Liked” – I was one of hundreds, if not thousands, of other Facebook Pages that were also giving things away. I also noticed that they don’t really match a profile of a person that would buy my product. I soon discovered that I was giving away free things to people that won’t bring me any profit. I started calling them “Moochers”, and overtime I grew to love them.
The following are some tips on determining if you have moochers in your FB environment. Although they are good for the eco-system that’s around you, having too many of them could make your community unbalance, and therefore not sustainable (read: profitable). If you start seeing a lot of people that fit the below profile, you might want to re-evaluate the direction in which your community is heading.
How to spot a “moocher”
1. Profile full of competitions.
A moochers profile is easy to spot – it’s just full of competitions. Personal status updates or wall posts from others are a rarity, if none at all. Individual’s profile is usually set to the default Public mode, perhaps suggesting that there is nothing personal to protect. At this point it is fair to assume that a moocher might have a second FB profile for his “proper” interactions – the wall that the brand hoped to originally appear on.
A Moocher’s profile: iPads, cameras, and clothing – all of a sudden, your free socks don’t look that enticing.
2. Profile photo.
People come in all different forms and sizes, so stereotyping someone by their looks is a sure way of shooting yourself in the foot. But once you see someone changing their profile photo to a different appearance (race, sex, size, etc), you start doubting that previous person is the same as the one you see now. Treat this step with caution as people tend to use funny profile photos, but listen to your instinct and check for other moocher signs. Avatars/animals/random images are also popular. Saying that though, there are moochers who use their own photo; they’re not that fussed for being known that that’s what they do.
3. Name that stands out.
We live in a globalised world, so using names to judge a person’s race/sex/nationality is pretty pointless – there’s a John in every corner of the globe. However, you do come across some profiles with names that just pop-out – surely that name is too funny/odd to be real. If a moocher created a second profile for its competitions, then why not give it a different name too – I know I would (either Nicholas Trotsky or Jason Barracuda). Case in point: one of our fans won a competition. When asked to provide an address for the package, the name given was different to the one that’s on Facebook – similar first name, last name way-off. It’s almost as if a different person won the prize. However, similar to point 1, some moochers are happy to use their own name.
This one is obvious – if you run competitions/giveaways then the moochers are the ones that are the most involved. You’ll start noticing similar names popping-up whenever you run competitions, so have a look at the people that always speak-up. Also, when there is a call to share post/tag friends in the response, a moocher usually tags/shares with other moochers – they tend to stay and hunt in packs.
Reasons why you shouldn’t hate a moocher.
1. They add-up to the numbers.
300 fans looks better than 200 fans.5,000 fans looks better than 2. The size of your community does make an impression on your brand, so having more people “Like” you is good. However, you don’t want to have just moochers, as you do want to attract the people that are right for you. After all, the community that you are creating has a bigger purpose, and from a business perspective, that’s fans that convert into leads and sales.
2. They engage with your competitions.
There is nothing worse than a competition that’s dead – it just looks really sad. Having moochers engage with it is good, as it might strike others to participate and take action. It’s always nice to have someone to back you up, and if you’re looking to boost post/like numbers, they are there to answer your call.
3. They might turn into actual consumers.
Although it might seem like wishful thinking, if you’re good enough with your strategy, you might actually turn moochers into clients. After all, they already know your brand, so if you play your cards right, they might turn to you when they will need your product. So treat them nice, and in return, they might love you back.
The moocher is certainly a beast of its own, but with the giant eco-system that is Facebook, it was bound for them to evolve. Everyone likes to receive free things, and with its simple interface and huge amount of prize promotions, Facebook is a perfect breeding ground for people that just want to win competitions. If you’re promoting a brand or a product, and you’re giving it away for free, it’s worthwhile looking into who it is that you are giving it to. If you do come across moochers in your environment, don’t be too worried, as they do play a valuable role. Keep in mind though that a community is as good as the people that are in it, so having a good balance of right people is the key to making it a valuable tool.