18 November 2015

Zuckerella’s Book O’ Faces: A Totally Twisted Fairy Tale

by Freddy Tran Nager, Founder of Atomic Tango + Fairy Tale Weaver; illustration of Twisted Princess Cinderella by Jeffrey Thomas aka jeftoon01

Once upon a time there lived an evil princess named Zuckerella. Although she had more wealth than she could possibly ever spend, she craved much, much more. Specifically, Princess Zuckerella wanted to be legendary – the brightest star of her very own fairy tale.

So the young princess started writing out her fantastical story. She called it the Book O’ Faces, since it contained everyone she knew, plus lots and lots of people she didn’t really know, but whom she still called “friends.” And the reason she wanted all these friends in her Book is because a fairy tale must have balls, and Princess Zuckerella wanted nothing less than the biggest balls in all the land. So she invited everyone she knew, plus lots and lots of people she didn’t really know, to attend her balls.

Now the merchants of Zuckerella’s kingdom gazed upon these balls with envy, since all those happy ballers looked like potential customers. And Zuckerella gazed upon these merchants with envy, since they still had money, and she wanted it all. So she invited these merchants to attend her balls, and in a gesture of seeming generosity, she gave each of them their own Pages in her Book O’ Faces.

The merchants were thrilled to have these Pages, and for many a moon, they invited everyone they knew, plus lots and lots of people they didn’t really know, to be part of them. And to partake in the merchants’ offerings, all these people had to do was “like” their Pages. It was oddly narcissistic, but it seemed to work, and the “likes” poured in.

Then Princess Zuckerella burst out laughing at the merchants’ pathetic attempts to gain admirers. “Is that all you got?” she chortled derisively. “I could get that many ‘likes’ in my sleep!” So the merchants doubled and tripled and sextupled their efforts, throwing contests and giving away burritos and other prizes to get everyone they knew, plus lots and lots of people they didn’t really know, to “like” them. As they fought and struggled and hired dubious consultants to get more “likes,” they forgot about their true calling, which was to sell things. It was as if someone had cast a magic spell upon them, turning them into single-minded wandering sheep.

But Princess Zuckerella had a more devious spell in mind. She waited until the merchants had attracted hundreds and thousands and even millions of people to “like” their Pages. Then she laughed and said, “Oh, you silly greedy merchants, you thought this party was free, didn’t you? Now let me ask you this: what good are all your admirers if you can’t talk to them?” And with a twirl, Princess Zuckerella sprinkled cursed snake oil all over the Book O’ Faces, and suddenly, the Pages of the merchants went dark.

The merchants all gasped, and some whined. When they first started their Pages, they could share their ideas and stories with all their admirers. Now they found that most of the people who “liked” them could no longer even hear them or see them. It was as if a great blindness, deafness, and dumbness (mostly dumbness) had fallen across the land. Soon only a handful of the most devoted admirers of each Page could see what the merchants wanted them to see. And while it was good for the merchants to know who loved them most, these passionate fans were too few to cover even the variable costs.

“Oh, Princess Zuckerella,” wailed the merchants, “we put so much time and effort and money into making everyone we know, plus lots and lots of people we don’t really know, ‘like’ our Pages. Now they act as if we don’t even exist. What do we do?”

The Princess smiled so broadly it looked as if she could swallow the kingdom. “Two words,” she replied. “Pay me.”

A few merchants cried out, “Betrayal!” “The horror, the horror!” and “That’s a freakin’ bait and switch!” But Princess Zuckerella only extended her palm. Chagrined, yet unable to admit defeat, many of the merchants reached deep into their pouches for coin, which they handed over to the Princess. And they did this again and again, not necessarily to turn their admirers into customers, but simply to talk to them.

Of course, they could have done all this in the beginning with a basic radio commercial, but hey, that’s another fairy tale.

And so Princess Zuckerella’s wildest dreams came true. Not only did she have the biggest balls in all the land, they were very profitable ones. And in her Book O’ Faces, she lived happily ever after. What’s not to “like”?

The End

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Freddy is the Founder & Creative Strategist of Atomic Tango. He also teaches graduate-level marketing communication courses at the University of Southern California (go Trojans!), shoots pool somewhat adequately, and herds cats. Freddy received his BA from Harvard and his MBA from USC.

4 Responses

  1. I’ve been doing a little experiment with pages myself. I even tried, dare I say it, paying, to BOOST a post. What I found was that I got many likes and a rather unimaginable “reach”.
    Then I dug deeper.

    #1 – did not click through on any of the links
    #2 – The reach and likes came from people who did not seem in ANY way to fit the profile of someone who would “Like”, much less share this particular post.
    #3 – Now I am trapped in a hellish cycle of promos from facebook wanting me to BOOST the post.
    #4. – You can not talk to anyone at facebook to get answers as to why this supposedly brilliant algorithm of targeted marketing seems to be using a very primitive shotgun approach to reach what I can only assume are “Like” mills and spammers.

    I understand not giving away advertising for free and using fairly sleazy marketing methods to pull people into your trap. What I do NOT understand is that once people actually PAY for your service, feeding them a complete line of BS, smoke and mirrors.

    • retro

      Amen. You’re not the only one who has experienced this. Facebook marketing is not only poor social media, it’s poor advertising. That’s why more traditional methods – email, TV, even outdoor – are coming back in vogue.

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