Begin With The End in Mind: Facebook, Instagram, and Violating Expectations

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Read a fascinating article earlier this month:

Go to any VFW hall, even today, and you’ll get the same story: During World War II, the Red Cross had comfort stations for soldiers overseas, with free coffee and free doughnuts. Then, in 1942, the Red Cross started charging for the doughnuts. Soldiers have held a grudge ever since.


People like “free”.

Nothing brings out the crowds like the promise of something for nothing. Entire industries have sprouted from the concept.[[MORE]]

That’s why so many start-ups subscribe to the “advertising-based” revenue model. It’s a means of establishing a foothold in the market (although the ad-based revenue model has it’s own inherent flaws).

Companies built on the backs of user-generated content should begin with the end in mind. Decide how you’ll monetize your service from inception—check egos and idealism at the door. Better to work out the kinks now than raze your foundation out of necessity later.

Popular services like Facebook and Instagram know the public relations disasters lurking behind every change in policy.

The problem arises when companies try to make the leap from ‘free’ to ‘fee’ for users. An ad-based revenue model that’s free to users establishes a relationship that is extremely difficult to alter. Paradigm shifts will always arouse some level of discontent.

When one party doesn’t explicitly consent to such changes, the stage is set for a particularly nasty confrontation.

The root cause of the opposition is not the addition of new fees; it’s the change in user-business relationship.

It’s all about managing expectations:

I was sitting on the tarmac of JFK airport after an uncomfortable cross-country flight when I was reminded of an important lesson for maintaining good relations with the people around you: Under-promise and over-deliver.

After a mundane landing and relatively smooth flight, the pilot told the passengers that there would be a ‘10 or 15 minute delay due to an issue with a plane unloading at our gate’. We were slightly annoyed, but we understood that unexpected delays are part of the flight experience.

Unfortunately for the pilot (and Delta Airlines, who is notorious for nickle-and-diming customers and creating an awful flight experience), there were a few more delays that left our plane on the tarmac for another 90 minutes. When we finally pulled into our gate and got off the plane, there were several, clearly audible  complaints and dozens of exasperated passengers.

Managing expectations is critical for keeping clients happy and satisfied with your work. The pilot should have simply said that we would pull into the gate when the other plane had pulled out. He should have NEVER given the passengers and estimated time of arrival at our destination gate, especially if he was uncertain of when the delay would be cleared. Failing to make good on a promise or declaration is one of the most effective ways to sour client relations.

read full article here:

Kicking the can down the road provides immediate gratification at the cost of bigger headaches in the future. Anticipating problems and issues in the future is a best-practice, providing a framework for dealing with concerns in the future. Shrewd leaders institute policies that quell minor issues before they erupt into something much worse. Band-aid solutions offer temporary relief (e.g. short-term cash flow, policies that quiet a vocal minority), often at the cost of insidious damage in the future.

Violate expectations at your own risk.

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I’m an entrepreneur-among other things-specializing in helping people build businesses and develop fulfilling relationships.


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