Facebook Opens Up Your Inbox to Strangers (for $1 per Message)

If you haven’t been to your Facebook “Messages” tab lately (since Wednesday, December 19, 2012, to be exact), go ahead — log into your Facebook profile and navigate to that tab. Upon doing so, you will see the following message (highlighting mine):

So, “now anyone can message you” — whether you know the person or not; and Facebook has announced this “update to messaging” in yesterday’s blog post. Here’s an excerpt from it:

Today we’re starting a small experiment to test the usefulness of economic signals to determine relevance. This test will give a small number of people the option to pay to have a message routed to the Inbox rather than the Other folder of a recipient that they are not connected with.

Several commentators and researchers have noted that imposing a financial cost on the sender may be the most effective way to discourage unwanted messages and facilitate delivery of messages that are relevant and useful.

This test is designed to address situations where neither social nor algorithmic signals are sufficient… This message routing feature is only for personal messages between individuals in the U.S. [source]

As you can see from the above screenshot, before this change strangers could also message us, but all their messages would land in the “Other” folder. Now you may see them in the “Inbox” instead.

Reuters adds:

A Facebook spokesman said the charge for the test is $1 per message, but added that the company is still looking for the “optimum” price. Users can only receive one of these paid, re-routed messages per week, he noted. [source]

Yesterday after Jill Whalen’s Tweet based on my earlier Tweet on the subject, an array of reactions followed. Here are just a couple of them:



What do you make of it?

Keep in mind, also, that less than two months ago Facebook crossed 1 billion users threshold and it now engages “nearly half of the world’s Internet users” [source].

2 Keys to Selling on Twitter: Monitoring and Designing Conversations

Less than an hour ago I tweeted that I’ve booked my airfare and hotel for Affiliate Management Days West 2013. Very shortly after that Tweet, Mozio (which positions itself as an “airport ground transportation search engine”) tweeted right back at me:

Of course, I couldn’t help but notice this. Their Tweet was (a) relevant, (b) timely, and (c) hit the nail on the head. No, I didn’t have my ground transportation arranged yet. And guess, who I will use to find it now!

I also couldn’t help but recall Jeff Molander‘s advice. In his “Off the Hook Marketing” book he wrote:

The answer to selling more with social tools is rooted in starting conversations that are worth having, conversing in ways that align the needs of buyer and seller, and designing conversations with customers in ways that generate inquiries and sales.

The above-quoted startup has made a perfect example of a company that (i) monitors other people’s Twitter conversations, and (ii) chimes in when they have something relevant to offer. Are you utilizing these two simple keys to selling on Twitter yet?

Viral Marketing Idea: Optical Illusion (and How To Create One)

A really amazing optical illusion has been making the rounds on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms lately. And, I must admit, I couldn’t help but participate in spreading it too. Here it is [Instructions: look at the red dot on the lady’s nose for 30 seconds, then turn your eyes on a plain surface (white ceiling or clean sheet of paper) and blink as fast as you can]:

If you do it right, you’ll see this picture of Deepika Padukone, a famous Bollywood actress. Regardless of that “HM” in the bottom right-hand corner, I couldn’t confirm that the spread of this viral optical illusion “campaign” was initiated by H&M. In fact, it appears that this particular illusion is based on a photo taken from Padukone’s endorsement photoshoot of Sony Cyber-shot cameras (which you can see her holding in her hand).

Whatever it was, this brings up a very interesting idea for creating viral marketing campaigns based on optical illusion. And it is also very easy to create these negatives! For example, as shown below, to do it in Photoshop you go to Image > Adjustments > Invert (or simply hit Ctrl+I). Just remember that the colors of the original “focus dots” will change too.

If you have Windows 7, the Magnifier tool will do this for you too [see “how to” instructions here].

Are you using optical illusions for viral marketing yet? I say, it is worth a try. Coupled with smart Social Media marketing, it can bear really good fruit. Just remember to also look beyond the fun, setting measurable goals (yes, “likes” and “ReTweets” but, ultimately, leads, subscriptions, and conversions), diligently tracking them.

The Biggest Lesson You Can Learn About Social Media

It seems like only yesterday I was working on my “Sixteen Thousand Tweets Later” blog post (well, in reality, it’s already been 8.5 months since that date), and today I’m celebrating another milestone — 20,000 Tweets.

Funny, but even though the number of Tweets since my above-quoted post has increased only by 25%, the number of my followers has nearly doubled (from 3,035 to 5,756); and while discussing the things that they have taught me I did allude to the importance of giving on social media, today I’d like to elaborate on it further. After all, it’s the biggest lesson I personally have learned about social media!

You see, I have built my personal brand almost entirely with the help of social media.

  • In 2005 I started participating in an online forum. Between May 2005 and May 2009 I contributed well over 11,500 posts to it, learning a ton in the process, as well as making a name for myself.
  • On July 16, 2008 I joined Twitter. I didn’t start actively tweeting until I figured out what worked best and what didn’t (Twitter is very different from other forums of social media), but, as you can see, I’m nearing 6,000 followers already.
  • On January 1, 2009 something else happened — something that (together with my active participation in an online forum) has taught me a bunch about social media — I made daily blogging one of my New Year’s resolutions. Ever since then, between my blog posts at AMNavigator.com and my guest blogging efforts (for example, here), I have put together over 1,100 blog posts.


I’ve also participated in LinkedIn Groups (starting one myself on September 15, 2008 as well) and Answers, done some video-blogging and started a YouTube channel, put together polls, actively participated by commenting on other people’s blogs, and did a lot of other things on social media.

I did burn myself quite a number of times, but by trial and error, I’ve learned something that I’d like to share with you with today: the secret of successful social media marketing is actually quite simple — you cannot take more than you have contributed in the first place. All of the above-quoted social media channels can be extremely effective if you are happy to share (the knowledge, the experiences, and/or the feelings).

If your company is looking for another broadcasting channel, look elsewhere. Social gives us an amazing opportunity (to “communicate directly with buyers”, as David Meerman Scott would put it). You can use it smartly (to grow your business), or abuse it (to bury it). The key, in my opinion, is in mastering the skill of giving.