The Positive Glass Pearl Principle or how to get what you want without paying (too much) for it


Summary: When companies try to get started in Social Media, they use standard tactics to gain followers and response: offerings prizes, doing advertisement, etc. Instead they should use what I call the positive glass pearl principle: Offering something the customer values without having to spend too much on it yourself. And almost all clients I encountered had such a perceived gold nugget in their possession when they started digging for it.  Do you have examples of this principle in action? Please add them at the bottom!

The Positive Glass Pearl Principle (TPGPP) works because you can easily offer something to your target group which they desire / want / need. This something does not cost you retail but internal costs or you have connections the others don’t, and so on. To understand the full meaning, we need to look at the negative version of the principle.

The Negative Glass Pearl Principle

glass pearls
Photo by mollycakes

The principle is mostly known in stories around people in the new world giving away their riches like gold for something shiny without value to the giver. If the first group would understand the real value of their goods, they would not trade it for trinkets. Surprisingly enough, though people know about this from their history class, they do not understand the same thing happens online.

I first used this metaphor when writing an article about Qype, the German Yelp, where they ask the user to fill in rich information for peanuts and in return get Gold. The answer from them was like most services do in this case “but you get the recognition and we always show your information with it, so it is attributed!!” Which already back then was bogus, because it would appear on Google as “review from Qype” and not review from Nicole on Qype. I am fine with that at the core, because the benefit I want is not recognition but a usable database to help make my life easier. But please don’t treat me as stupid.

Customers / users are getting more acquainted with the idea of the worth of what they are providing, thus making it harder for companies to ripe the benefits without rewards. Good companies do reward the users adequate if they want to stay in business, bad companies are in danger to get flack for doing so.

The Positive Glass Pearl Principle

The better application of the principle is something I use with clients constantly. As they are looking to tap into the riches of their customers being online, they run into the problem of how to reward them properly for doing what my clients want them to do. By old experience, they believe “reward” to be expensive.

For example they want users to become (and stay) a fan on a Facebook page, participate in a contest to answer a question of the client, or much simpler than that: retweet or like something which clearly is using me, the customer, as a influencer to my friends without paying me for doing your advertisement. This equation does not work and even if you give away an iPhone or an ipad, it will only get you freeloaders and not what you really want and need in the long run.

When they look at what to do in social media an alike, I always ask them: What is a glass pearl to you but is gold to the other side? Very often they have something, without realizing it, to which the other side has only limited access to and thus is willing to do something for it.

Just a few examples, mainly from working with clients:

  • One customer had a niche TV channel they partnered with – to organize a kind of show where contestants could be on TV for 15 minutes would have been very easy for them (glass pearl) but for the other side difficult to achieve yet highly desirable (gold).
  • Second example would be a media organization with good ties to celebs. For them to organize a meeting with such a celeb or just a meet and greet is not totally easy, yet easy enough. Imagine your target group is teenage girls and you have backstage passes to Justin Bieber.
  • Another customer rents apartments for students which are highly sought after. In brainstorming we came up with the idea of having ‘gold’ as ‘get a jump start in the application process’ or just ‘free rent for a month’.
  • I have suggested to clients to think a bit broader.  For example, tickets to certain conferences are in high demand. At Blogger most visitors have a hard time funding the trip because they are no businesses, so offering the expenses paid / the ticket / the nice hotel is something desirable
  • Help out with your professional infrastructure: Events like Barcamps need rooms and it helps to have food prepared. If your company has a professional kitchen, it is easy to run that on a weekend but hard for organizers to get running for just one event.

If you look closely at it, it costs near to nothing for the company or organization but is highly desirable for the other side. In creating these glass pearls, they also allow their customer to feel good about helping you. They understand it is a glass pearl to you and understand the value of gold, but still want it and everybody is happy.

Do you have other examples where this principle could work? Please share them!

Tags: ,

Comments are closed.