A recent article in the Sacramento Business Journal,  A&W to offer free root beer floats – Sacramento Business Journal, points readers to a the A & W Facebook page where devotees of their delicious root beer floats can get a coupon for a free float simply by “liking” their Facebook page.  After liking the A & W page, fans are then prompted to “Click here for your free float coupon.”  Clicking on the link installs an application to your Facebook account and requests “Access my basic information Includes name, profile picture, gender, networks, user ID, list of friends, and any other information I’ve shared with everyone.”

I stopped at this point.  I thought to myself, “Is this really a great deal?  Is my personal information and the names of my friends worth the $3 to $5 I would save on a root beer float?”  I cancelled the transaction.  I felt that the cost to my personal information out-weighed the benefit I would receive from a single coupon.

The more I thought about it, the more I felt that A & W would be the ultimate winner in this trade for information.  First, A & W wins by having me like their page.  The ability to reach out to me and advertise directly to me through my Facebook feed is a benefit to them.  I get more impressions of the A & W reminding me of the great times I had at A & W when I was a child, their delicious root beer floats, and  perhaps influencing me to stop at the A & W the next time I get a hankering for a Papa Burger.  Second, A & W gets access to my information enabling them to better market to me and  my friends.  If I have a large social network, I provide A &W with access to hundreds of people that may have similar tastes to me.  I can certainly see an advertisement that says, “Stewart likes A & W and thinks you would too!”  Can I jeopardize the trust relationship that I have built with my network for the price of a float?  Most certainly.  Third and last, the root beer float is not free.  It is free with purchase.  I get to spend $20 to $30 dollars for may family to eat at A & W and get a discount equal to the price of a root beer float.  In the end, I ultimately pay A & W for the privilege of providing them with my personal Facebook information and for a coupon that I may or may not use in the future.  Not a great deal.

Next time you take advantage of a Facebook offer, think about your actions.   Are you getting the best possible value from the transaction? You are in control of your information.   Make the right decisions.

Follow Abaton Consulting of Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/abatonconsulting or on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/stewartsavage

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