Scoble on pushing your customers away in order to keep them close

I really like Robert’s recent posting called “Happy Halloween from the Corporate Troll” where he describes how websites are keeping users close by telling them to go away. It sounds paradoxical but I agree with him. We are sick of being corralled, manipulated, enclosed, restricted, and proscribed by DRM, file formats, streaming media formats, and all of the things tech companies use to manipulate customers into staying with their system. It is intentional and it s called “switching cost.” The cell phone companies loved that one…until local number portability came along and then all hell broke loose because the users were pissed off at poor phone quality and could finally move their number to a competitor – and they did!

Robert posits that some of the biggest name websites manage to retain loyal followings by always telling their customers to go away somewhere else.

Let’s say you have two friends. One of them always wants you to come over and stay at their house all day long, every day of the week, week-after-week, and you’re only allowed to stay there, and never allowed to go out in the yard or talk to the neighbours or even go home. Yes, you would say, “This is a psychopatch who does not care at all about my freedom and whose only goal is to keep themselves happy.” You would ditch that friend I hope. I know I would.

You have another friend who is always supporting your freedom to be with other people and to go adventuring and to more fully explore who you are in the world – in other words, they completely support your growth and independence. You’re going to want to spend more time with this friend. Their self-confidence and support are attractive. Most likely, you will spend a lot of time with this person and probably share a lot of common interests and perhaps develop a really great social network with them with many common friends. Because you know that this kind of individual likes meeting more people and is not petty or jealous. They are happy that you are happy. In fact, this sounds like the perfect mate!

It’s no wonder that we react the same way to companies that treat us in the same manner.