Bribing. A little incentive. A prize in trade for an action. We see it all the time online. One quick look at Twitter will reveal a smattering of businesses/people shouting out things like:
“Follow us and have a chance to win a free desk chair!”
“Like us on Facebook and randomly be entered to win an iPod!”
“RT this article and you could win a free sticker!”
The list goes on. And I get it. Everyone is looking to build up their following. One way to do this is by bribing people. And while I would certainly NOT encourage bribing as an everyday activity (use sparingly!), nor is it a long term strategy, it actually can be effective if done correctly.
But in the cluttered online world we participate in and consume every day, how can you make your bribe stick out? How can you make sure to NOT come across as a self-centered jerk?
There are some great lessons from the web show White Collar Brawler where two fellas quit their day jobs to become amateur boxers and chronicle the journey with an online web show (definitely worth checking out...I’m hooked on it). Their Facebook fan page has ballooned to nearly 4,000 fans. A month or so ago they were looking to get to 2,000 fans and were not really even close.
They decided to do a little bribing. Here was the deal: If they reached 2,000 fans by a certain date, one of the fighters would dress up in MC Hammer Pants and jump into the San Francisco Bay (freezing cold). They encouraged current fans to tell their friends, mentioned it on their web show and guess what happened. Watch the results here.
Bottom line: It worked.
What are some of the takeaways from the White Collar Brawlers that you can use for your business?
1. Be Memorable
Being memorable and interesting can defeat the need to offer physical goods. The brawlers could have easily done what “everyone else” does and give away an iPod or something like it. Instead, they kept it funny and based around an experience. Can you try the same?
2. Use Your Platform
At the end of the web show, they made reference to the bribe/stunt. And encouraged people to partake on the mission for 2,000 fans and more importantly the hammer-pants-laden-dip-in-the-bay. Friendly reminders on your website, blog and other assets you own can help move the needle.
3. Be Specific
The goal was specific: 2,000 fans. Specific deadlines eliminate procrastination. Example: 2,000 fans by 2:00 p.m. on the 20th. This comes across much better than “Help us get more fans,” or other pleas that come across as begging. And the goal was not only specific, but the “result” was also very specific. Nate would jump into the bay with MC Hammer pants on. Easy to visualize and quantify is an advantage.
4. Tap Into Your Existing Networks
Cross platform promotion maximizes the effect. For example, the brawlers posted the Facebook contest to Twitter. Think about bouncing the ball from one place to another. What sites are you active on? Can you bring people into another site? Can you also remind people in your email signature and other real estate?
5. Avoid Burnout
Can the right bribe work well? Absolutely. Is it a long-term strategy? I’d warn against doing it constantly. Like many things, it works in doses and too much causes sickness. Still, I’d recommend the 80/20 rule. Twenty percent of your posts pushing the bribe, 80 percent not.
Bottom Line: Creating a passionate following takes time, effort and actually offering something of value to the followers (educational, inspiration and/or entertainment). While there are no shortcuts, sometimes doing a creative bribe here or there can increase efforts. But remember, even if you have someone’s attention, the real challenge is becoming valuable enough to keep it.
What is your take on bribing? Good? Bad? Indifferent?