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Motivation. Philosophers, leaders, spouses, and our own psyches have spent lifetimes trying to understand what motivates an individual. How do we use that understanding of motivation to increase an individual’s productivity and performance? While there’s no concrete answer on what motivates every single person in the world, we do know that tying the desired action to incentives or rewards can go a long way towards awakening someone’s inner motivational dragon.

If you’re struggling to drive recruitment into your advocacy marketing program or if you want to improve your program’s engagement, share rate, and other key performance indicators, look at your program’s incentives.

Ask yourself:

  • If I were an advocate, would this incentive excite me?
  • Does the incentive make sense as part of your branded program?
  • Does its value (perceived or monetary) align with the actions I’m asking from my advocates?

If the answer to any of the above isn’t a resounding, “YEAH BOY!” you may want to consider optimizing your incentives. Here are a few ways we recommend rewarding your advocates for their participation in your advocacy marketing program.

But First – Why Give Advocates Incentives?

Occasionally, we get asked a similar question by our clients:

“Why do I even need to reward my advocates in the first place? Shouldn’t they want to share my content? It’s coming from the brand they’re in love with!”

Our strategic advice is to not think of the incentive or reward as a payment or a bribe. You’re not “buying” someone’s long-term advocacy. After all, you want your advocates to be as authentic as possible when sharing your messaging. You want to foster loyalty, and it’s hard to cement loyalty if you’re paying for it.

Instead, think of your incentives and rewards as your program’s way of saying “thank you” to your advocates for their ongoing activity and support of the program. They’re giving up their time, energy, and social news feeds to help share your brand’s key content messages. The least you can do is show them that you value their participation in your program.

Ways To Reward Your Brand Advocates

Method 1: Manage A Contest Or Sweepstakes

Let’s go ahead and get this method out there. Easily, the most common motivation-driving method we see employed by brands is to host a contest or sweepstakes and use participation in an advocacy marketing program as the method of entry.

So many brands use this form of incentive for one simple reason: it works! Advocates get excited about the opportunity to win that all-expense paid trip to Bali or that brand new flat-screen TV. The brand benefits from the extra advocate effort and added exposure of increased participation in the advocacy marketing program.

The downside is that if the prizing is TOO good, you might attract individuals into your program that are only there to win the prize. To help mitigate this risk, consider keeping your prizing on-brand and related directly to your target demographic. Tying the contest or sweepstakes into your key demo’s motivation factors will help to recruit an advocacy audience that cares about your brand and is invested in its success, not an audience that just wants to win a prize.

Method 2: Provide Advocates With Access To Exclusive Content

Incentivize your advocates to join and participate in your advocacy marketing program by providing them access to exclusive content or early access to content before it airs. This could include private resources, blog posts, videos, or even samples of new products.

Create and foster a sense of exclusivity that communicates to the advocate that their participation in your brand’s advocacy marketing program sets them apart from other brand fans.

Method 3: Give Advocates The VIP Treatment

In addition to giving your advocates access to exclusive content, consider also giving them access to exclusive levels of service. Make them VIPs.

If you’re a restaurant, resort, or hotel, this could mean complimentary upgrades, access to on-site clubs or concierge lounges, or free parking. eCommerce brands can provide free shipping, exclusive product offers, or even discounts.

Method 4: Provide Exclusive Discounts And Product Offerings To Advocates

Speaking of online discounts, consider creating unique discounts or product offerings available only to your brand advocates (and their friends).

Remember, the whole point of the incentive is to communicate that you value having the advocate in your program. By giving your advocates the opportunity to save more than the common customer, you’re reaffirming that you are appreciative of their participation in the program.

Bonus points if you allow your advocates to share this discount with their friends and family. Not only does this give them the discount, but it also allows them to increase their social status with their friends and family, which can be a key reason for an advocate to join your program in the first place.

Method 5: Shout Out Your Advocates On Your Marketing Channels

Speaking of leveling-up an advocate’s status, some brands have found motivational success by publicly recognizing their advocates on their marketing channels. This includes social media pages or sponsored content, TV and print ads, and even billboard campaigns!

This type of public acknowledgment not only helps to potentially increase an advocate’s status within their social network, but it also can be a powerful recruitment tool that showcases a key – and unique – benefit to those who join your program.

Method 6: Host Special Events For Your Advocates

Bringing your online advocates together in an offline event can be a powerful way for your brand to cement its relationship with your advocates. Don’t think of events as solely the realm of consumer-facing, brick-and-mortar companies either. Whether you’re a national brand, eCommerce retailer, or B2B SAAS corporation, companies of all types can lean on event-driven incentives to reward their advocates and incentivize social sharing.

Want to take your event to the next level? Consider allowing your advocates an opportunity to meet-and-greet with key leadership figures, stakeholders, or even a celebrity guest as part of the event.

Method 7: Tap Into The Altruistic Passions Of Your Advocates

Not all advocates are motivated by personal gain. For some advocacy marketing programs, the key to increased campaign performance might be to tap into your advocate’s altruistic nature.

As a brand, consider making cash or in-kind contributions on behalf of your advocates based on their performance within the program. Work with your advocates to select a non-profit or charity organization that they believe in. (Want to ask your advocates who their choice is? Consider sending them a survey through your SocialToaster program! Our integrated survey and quiz builder makes it easy for you to gain an understanding of your advocates.)

Not only can donations and other non-profit contributions help to motivate your advocates to share more content on their social channels, it can also help to improve the public image of your brand.

Method 8: Add Personalized Touches To Surprise And Delight Your Biggest Advocates

Who said you had to tie all of your incentives to a monthly prize calendar? For your super-star advocates, consider showing your appreciation by sending them a gift simply for being awesome advocates. Some brands could send personalized cakes, others might send small swag items, others, simply a note of thanks.

There’s a bit of magic that happens when an advocate isn’t expecting their efforts to be rewarded.

As the old saying goes, you catch more advocates with honey than vinegar (unless you’re a vinegar brand of course, in which case feel free to use vinegar as an incentive). If you want to improve your program’s ROI and performance, consider switching up how you incentivize and motivate your audience to improve dedication, performance, and retention.

Ready to get started? Let SocialToaster work with you to craft the ideal incentive schedule for your advocacy marketing program. Get in touch today to schedule a free consultative session to learn more.