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I am going to share a hard truth. Most of your content will not be organically shared. It’s a hard pill to swallow for most brands, that your brand isn’t always the first thing your Facebook fans think of in the morning. Sure, there are some brands out there with amazingly supportive fans that are sharing every piece of content or liking all of the seasonal memes, but be honest with yourself, how many of your fans are sharing? More importantly, how many of your fans are actually seeing the content you’re publishing? A survey by socialbakers.com showed that most brands only reach 11% – 16% of their audience with each post. So how do you increase your post’s visibility and ensure your content is being seen by more than just a handful of audience members? You incentivize sharing

I am going to share a hard truth. Most of your content will not be organically shared. It’s a hard pill to swallow for most brands, that your brand isn’t always the first thing your Facebook fans think of in the morning. Sure, there are some brands out there with amazingly supportive fans that are sharing every piece of content or liking all of the seasonal memes, but be honest with yourself, how many of your fans are sharing? More importantly, how many of your fans are actually seeing the content you’re publishing? A survey by socialbakers.com showed that most brands only reach 11% – 16% of their audience with each post. So how do you increase your post’s visibility and ensure your content is being seen by more than just a handful of audience members? You incentivize sharing. 

Now this isn’t anything new, brands have been incentivizing sharing and engagement since the dawn of social media. Bluntly put: people expect some compensation for their actions. Cage the Elephant says it best, “There’s nothing in this world for free.” Brands understand this and regularly offer incentives for their fans. The traditional model for incentivizing usually involved some sort of large sweepstakes or contest. Individuals would take a social action (like or share) and be entered for a chance to win the grand prize. 

That’s so 2007. With the continued evolution of social media tools, like SocialToaster, we’re moving towards a new incentive model. A model that engages more fans and ensures that everyone feels compensated for their efforts. Here’s how tools like SocialToaster are changing the social media incentive game.

Requesting a Single Action

When brands run several different sharing contests a year, it can get pretty confusing for fans. This is especially true when fans are asked to take different actions every contest. They don’t know whether they have to like, share, post, sign-up, buy, pin, retweet, dance, “not-pass-go” or any of the countless other social demands we ask from them to enter the contest. A confused fan is not going to take an action no matter how much they’re incentivized.

The newest way to incentivize your fans: ask for only one action and make it simple for a user to complete that action. Limit interactions to pushing just one button. Make it easy. There’s your special sauce for the day. If you want to increase shares on any level, you need to ensure the sharing process is as simple as possible. By tying a contest or other incentivizing pull to a single, simple action – and keeping that action consistent with other requests – you can ensure your fans aren’t getting confused with mixed messages.  

Real Time Reward

Everyone’s seen those contests, “Hey enter to win today and in four months we’ll have a drawing. Eight weeks after that you may be notified that you have won!” Now where is the incentive in that contest; the opportunity that in six months you may or may not have won a hat? In this modern age of reduced attention spans and increased response times, the brands that offer real time incentives for their social media fans are going to be the ones that find their content being shared the most. 

This is one of the reasons that the next generation of social publishing tools incorporates a point system. Anytime a user shares brand content, they are immediately rewarded with a set number of points. It’s instant gratification at its finest. No more waiting weeks to find out if they may or may not have won that Richman Mini Hall Tree. They’ll know the moment that that they clicked the share button that they’re going to be rewarded.  

Everyone Gets Something

Your sharing fans expect to be compensated, all of them. Imagine if you were giving away a chance to win a puppy, you’d get a certain number of shares. Now imagine if you gave a puppy to everyone that shared your content. Imagine how many likes you’d get on that piece of content, or better yet, imagine the reach. Increased visibility and engagement simply because everyone that shared that content knew they were going to walk away with a reward. To effectively incentivize your social media fans to share content, you need to ensure that each one of them sees the benefit of sharing. By providing points for sharing actions, and setting tiered prizes correlating to those points, users can feel secure knowing that their actions are going to be compensated. Every post gets shared, because every fan knows that if they click that share button just a few more times, they’ll finally get that trip to Detroit

Welcome to the 2.5 world of incentivizing your social media fan base.  One time sweepstakes and complex contests will continue to lose steam and effectiveness. Smart brands are turning to tools like SocialToaster to better incentivize their fans to share content by offering real-time rewards. 

Does your brand incentivize sharing? If so, what kind of incentives do you find drive the best results? Leave a comment and let us know! Remember to follow us @socialtoaster for more tips on how to better incentive your social media audience.