As diligent marketers, we read studies that try to pinpoint why people “like” brands on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. The percentage varies from survey to survey, but the prevailing reasons are usually special offers or exclusive deals, also called “incentives.” A sweepstakes or giveaway is a popular way to gain a quick boost in followers and goodwill, but “incentives” can go far beyond contests. Let’s narrow the conversation down to Twitter. There are 3 major ways that brands can appeal to fans through different types of incentive:
1. Reward With Emotion (Disney, Pixar) – When tweets from brands like Disney or Pixar appear in my feed, it’s an instant jolt of happiness. Seeing a familiar quote or movie still brings a smile to my face, and judging by the number of RTs, such tweets have a similar effect on others as well. (The Happiness Project author Gretchen Rubin has a post on the happiness effect of Twitter—numbers 2 and 3 are particularly applicable in this instance.) Any brand with a strong positive sentiment should try to brainstorm ways to bring happiness to their fans—and get creative here! A little levity goes a long way, especially in the form of behind-the-scenes photos or a custom graphic. For example, check out TOMS’ clever Valentine…
…or a recent Threadless tweet (that face!):
2. Reward With Offers or Deals (JetBlue Cheeps, Jewelmint) – Both of these accounts offer flash deals on a regular basis. The time restrictions on the offers incentivize you to follow so you don’t miss out. Scarcity is a powerful motivator, and a number of today’s top brands use it wisely. Jewelmint is savvy not only in deal content (which varies often so as to not grow stale) and timeliness (timed for all sorts of mini special occasions), but also in execution. Their email marketing team clearly works closely with the social media team for mutual benefit, which widens the reach of many choice offers, optimizing their chance of being seen.
3. Reward With Information (Tim Ferriss, Pushing Social) – Information can certainly be a reward, albeit a less obvious one. With so much noise and so many distractions on Twitter, it’s nice to know that there are accounts that you can count on simply for thought-provoking content, a polarizing opinion, or a slap back into reality, whether through original or shared content. Such accounts are usually thought-leaders, and it’s important to note that these reputations are earned through a lot of perseverance, the pain and glory of which is detailed in this article, “Seth Godin, The Dip, and How to Really Succeed at Social Media,” which applies to any content-creating endeavor. It takes time to ramp up, but information-based rewards are arguably the most genuine, and genuinely fulfilling, way to use social media.
Of course, none of these incentives is mutually exclusive. Test, experiment, optimize—find out what kind of communication best fits your brand. Be honest, be relevant—and promote the heck out of your account.
*ROI DNA is not affiliated with any of the brands or individuals mentioned in this post. Simply giving credit where credit is due!