I generally love the work that comes out of the doors of JoomlArt. They’re one of the oldest and best known developers of quality Joomla templates and extensions. Three of their recent extensions made my Fourteen Fabulous February Freebies, so it’s fair to say I’m a fan. But I’m not so sure about their latest offering.
On the surface, JA Social Locker is a clever idea, although the principal is not new. It allows a site owner to display a certain amount of content, but in order to view the rest of the content, the reader needs to perform an action. In this case the required action is to share the content via a social network. Is that clever or stupid?
Actually I think it’s both. It’s clever because it will achieve its aim - getting more exposure, followers and ultimately customers. According to JoomlArt, when they tested it, they received 10,000 clicks and this dropped off dramatically when they disabled the extension.
It’s also stupid. I always like to create the same experience online as you would receive offline. If a customer is familiar with an organisation, it’s not unreasonable to ask them for a recommendation. But to insist on it is another matter. And how can you expect a stranger to recommend you if they are yet to experience your products or services? The result might be that you’re doing more harm than good. Many readers will be hesitant to hit that share button and miss out on whatever it is you’re promoting. This is discussed further in a free ebook from Short Stack - Why Every Business Needs to Stop Obsessing About Facebook Likes - which ironically requires you to opt-in to download it. Although this is written in the context of Facebook likes, the principles outlined in chapter one are relevant to this situation too.
Am I a Hypocrite?
But Rich, isn’t this exactly what you do with your training?
Previously? Yes. Now? Not really.
When I took over Build a Joomla Website the model for the Joomla version 1.0 course was that visitors could opt-in to receive the first 3 lessons for free and then they were sent a bunch of emails encouraging them to upgrade to the full course. Now the full Joomla 3 course (The Basics) is available for free without the need to opt-in at all. However there is an option to receive a companion workbook which is only available via an opt-in.
There were several reasons why I changed this model, but ultimately it all comes down to revenue. Once the course was completely free, and I mean all of it - not just a few teaser videos, it was easy for others to recommend it. I published the course at YouTube which also resulted in a lot of referred traffic. Some customers have been kind enough to recommend the course to others in a good old fashioned word of mouth kind of way. Although I must admit that sometimes you do need to encourage your audience to spread the word (hint, hint). The bottom line? This approach ultimately makes more money.
You can’t sell anything - especially online - unless your prospects knows you, likes you and trusts you. The same applies for a recommendation and that’s why JA Social Locker should be used with care. What do you think? Is this an ingenious way of gaining likes, or does it do more harm than good? Please comment below.
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