3 Ways Small Businesses Can Avoid Catfishing Customers

Since the movie Catfish [read my review later in this post] came out in September 2010, it seems there’s a renewed and fresh interest in the movie’s once secretive premise:  “Don’t let anyone tell you what it is.” 

It’s funny that the tagline is relevant in so many ways right now. There’s even a TV “Catfish” reality show.

According to the Urban Dictionary, a catfish is: someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities.

How about you? Have you ever been catfished by a company?

Most businesses would never, ever intend to create a false identity on purpose. But, they might unintentionally appear to be wearing a disguise.

3 Ways Small Businesses Can Avoid Catfishing Customers

1. Show them what you look like.

The whiskers on a catfish are really called barbels, and they are not hair. They are pieces of special skin shaped kind of like whiskers. The barbels are coated with cells that act like taste buds. So catfish can taste food with their barbels. Catfish can taste the food before putting it in their mouths. This makes it easier for a catfish to find food in murky water, or in the dark. Source

The problem with online catfish is you can’t see them. And, if you can’t see them how do you know who they are?

Ever checked out a company’s site to find the owners’ bios are nowhere to be found? Or, there’s no location listed? They may be reputable and do good work, but why aren’t they letting you see who they are? Show them what you look like.

2. Don’t smell fishy.

All natural catfish foods contain amino acids. Scientific studies show that channel cats can detect several of these types of molecules at concentrations of just one part per 100 million. Source

Catfish have a powerful sense of smell and so do prospects. Does your Facebook wall look dated and lonely? Are all your twitter posts promotional? Something fishy’s going on. Mix in a variety of posts that feel fresh and feed their interests.

3. Swim on the surface.

Catfish naturally lay and swim near the bottom 90% of the time. Source

Ever walked up to the edge of a shallow clear pond? You can see the bottom and everything in between. Let your customers peer in and wade in as deep as they want, when they want.

Catfish, The Movie About Facebook, Review

Originally published on September 23, 2010

That’s the tagline for a moving coming out September 24 called Catfish. I will tell you it is about Facebook, which is probably a good thing for Facebook because The Social Network movie comes out next Friday. Taking the focus off the platform from behind the company to in front of the screen, Catfish is a story about social networks and relationships. It’s not about the platform, it’s about the people who use the platform to communicate.

Part of the I Am Rogue Network, the movie opens to door to that community online and offers things like an app that let’s you find out how well know your Facebook friends.

On MTV.com, Henry Joost one of the Catfish filmmakers, along with Nev and Ariel Schulman, says there’s a common theme:

“I’d say maybe not the most common reaction, but a very common reaction is ‘Wow. Now let me tell you what happened to me; let me tell you what happened to my friend or my cousin or my mom.’ It’s incredible how many stories there are like this out there, and I think the film is kind of an open door to tell those stories now, that are sometimes embarrassing but often lead to good things.”

Catfish is about people and stories and the tender side of life.

Thanks to Universal Studios, a group of Social Media Club Chicago members got free tickets in the press section. As we stepped over the reserve section tape to take our seats, a woman in the row behind us asked, “Are you press? Only the press can sit there.”

I smiled and said, “Yes, would you like to see my tweets?” She said she just wanted to caution us so we wouldn’t get reseated. Thanks so much. You can always count on Chicagoans to look out for you.

After a day at Cusp Conference, where we experienced “the design of everything,” I was in the mood for entertainment. After all, I’d been looking at life through creative multi-focal lenses. With so much to unpack, I just wanted to go for a ride.

But, that’s not the case with this movie.

And while I won’t give away too much, I will say I liked the characters – who are real people – a lot. As a mother with kids a bit younger than the three documentary filmmakers, I can appreciate the reality side of the creative process.

There is some mystery to the movie, not as much as the trailers would leave you to believe, that keeps you intrigued and reinforces your hunches. It’s funny sometimes, well a lot, and you can see people you know in the updates, if you want to.

After you see Catfish, come back and tell us what you think. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with the biggest ah-ha moment in the movie for me: the definition of catfish.

But first, my personal relationship with catfish.

Growing up, I never liked to eat catfish. But, I had to.

Whenever Aunt Ruth would take off on trips to her cabin along the Wabash River she’d bring back, still alive and swimming, a tub full of catfish.

There was never a time in my life where I wanted to be a vegetarian more than when the platter of fried catfish hit the dinner table. Everyone, including me and my little sister, had to eat it.

I like to watch the catfish swim, but I couldn’t stand eating them. To me, Wabash River catfish was gritty and tasted like mud and dirt.

That was then, this is now.

Last Saturday night, I seared a catfish filled sprinkled with a bit of hot pepper with olive oil and Sauvignon Blanc, then mixed in some Lebaneses taboule with bread crumbs and tossed it with linguine and lemon sauce.

Who ate my grocery store catfish?

My son’s skateboard film crew. Yup, they’re the kind of guys who like to make documentaries all weekend long. I can’t wait to hear what they say about Catfish. I know they loved my catfish dish – it was all gone in a flash.

In the movie, the father talks about catfish as the fish that stirs things up. There’s more to the story, but you’ll have to buy a ticket to hear it. Are you a catfish?

Question for You: How do you make sure your customers know who you REALLY are?

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