More and more people and, more importantly, more and more businesses are jumping on the social media bandwagon. As consumers we now have the ability to follow, friend, like, star, share, re-tweet, digg, and enage with everyone from the marketing director of our favorite breakfast cereal to the CEO of our insurance companies and everyone in between. The more companies we follow, however, the more inundated we become and that can be overwhelming. There comes a time when we stop taking on new accounts to follow, and a time when we stop engaging.
So, what does this mean for you and your social media campaign? It means you need to create incentives. Without incentives it is likely that you will be overlooked in the social media realm. And customers are becoming increasingly more loyal to those businesses that they can engage with online. So this is crucial.
Think about it: which businesses do you follow and pay the most attention to online? The ones that offer exclusive deals, coupons, and insights for their products, right? This is why more and more companies are promoting their Facebook and Twitter accounts “Like us on Facebook and you can have [insert interesting offer here].”
The first step: Think about it from your customers’ points of view. What types of incentives would be most relevant to them as your customers? Think about your average customer – what types of people do you target in your advertising and marketing campaigns? What types of things do those people like?
Rest assured: not all incentives cost you money or cost them less money. You don’t always have to treat incentives as loss leaders.
Here are some ideas on how to provide incentives for your customers
- Start a daily or weekly paper.li: This is a free service that allows you to pool information from your Twitter followers and present it as an online newsletter. Individuals are featured and given credit for their content, which serves as the incentive. You mention them in a tweet, feature them in a paper.li and as a result they may be seen by your followers as thought-leaders on the topic you’ve chosen. People like to be published, no matter how legitimiate, and this serves as a nice screen shot for their e-portfolio.
- Traditional discount incentives: They just work. Customers of all kinds love to save money. And this one comes in two-fold: 1) Offering coupons or discounts that are available to your friends, fans, or followers after they become a member of your social community works well. 2) It also keeps them engaged if you offer deals on a regular basis. We suggest that you offer frequent, limited-time only deals so that you don’t wind up taking a big loss, but can still keep your customers engaged.
- Contests: Contests work well because, to put it simply, who doesn’t like to win? Facebook contests involving telling a short story, providing a good reason why you should win, or submitting photos are on the rise, and they have seen a good amount of success. For some examples, check out RCA’s Facebook Fan Page.
- Free gifts: It seems as though this tactic is most often ulitized in retail and restaurants. Offering a coupon or password for something free with purchase is yet another effective incentive. The kicker here is that this may also help you gauge ROI on social media. By providing a coupon or password for Facebook Fans and Twitter Followers (or one at a time if you want to see if there is a difference) can help you monitor how many people are paying attention, engaging, and how effective your ideas for incentives are. We do suggest, however, offering something for free that isn’t a huge loss to your business, and/or something with your name on it – think “free” advertising!
- Fun Facts: This may seem silly, but the reason why the Internet has become such an integral part of our daily lives is the access to information. And people like fun information in addition to pragmatic. After all, a good percentage of our use of the Internet is for lesiure, so a little fun-and-games is absolutely appropriate. Offering fun facts related to your product, or relevant to your target market, can serve as a small comic relief that your followers and fans look forward to. This one is easy and much less risky than the others, so we suggest that this be used to supplement the aforementioned incentives.
- Charity: If you have a charity that you support, or are looking for one, ask your customers to vote on a charity, and pledge to donate a certain amount based on number of votes. This is what we like to refer to as a win-win-win situation.
It’s not that your company isn’t popular enough, that your products or services aren’t good enough, it’s that there are way too many fish in the sea and your customers are inundated. Providing them with a reason to follow you in the first place, and continuous reasons to keep following you will ensure that you have a successful social media campaign with a longer shelf-life and higher engagement.
Don’t believe us? Here are a few case studies:
- TechCrunch: “Like Us on Facebook, Win Awesome Stuff”
- Pizza Hut: “Like Us on Facebook, Get a Free P’Zone with any Pizza Purchase”
- Grub Street NY explains in a sentence what their customers get for “Liking” them on Facebook.
Have questions or comments? Find us on Facebook or Twitter. Need an incentive? Reach out to us on Twitter @getbusymedia with your idea for a social media incentive and we’ll give you advice on how to best execute it. Heck, if you’re successful, we may even feature you on our blog as a success story (which will give you some SEO power!)