This is the fourth part in a four-part series on How To Ensure Social Media ROI.

Read previous parts here:

  1. How To Get Social Media ROI
  2. The 4 Functions of Social Media
  3. Social Media LinkBait, AttentionBait and RevenueBait

Part Four: Social Media and Incentives- How To Get People To Do Stuff

Students of the books Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics understand why people do what they do.

People do things because they're incentivized to do those things.

They get something out of the action. They're listening to our favorite radio station, WIIFM (What's In It For Me?). If you want them to do something, make sure you're incentivizeing them to do it.

Too many marketing campaigns - and this is not limited to Social Media or TV - are inadequately planned. All you need to do is list out the steps someone would have to take to get to the action you want them to take, and think about why they would do each step. Think about what other choices they have at each step... is yours really more compelling?

Even something as simple as category-chatter intercept...

  • If you just randomly @reply strangers when they talk about your category, why shouldn't they just ignore you? Why shouldn't they look at you as a nosey unwanted salesperson? (There's a weird tension between friends and sales we can't ignore in Social Media Marketing.)
  • You need to be tweeting an offer. If you're a hotel and you're tweeting at strangers who talk about your destination, tweet about a page on your hotel's site with discounts from local business partners- then they have a reason to care about you.
  • It seems like some social marketers think that the results could be only neutral or positive- it's possible you could turn people off as well if your approach isn't thoughtful. That could actually harm the brands you're marketing.

So back up for a second and

  1. Map out the steps you want people to take
  2. Plan a reason for people to take each step.

Another thing that helps prevent you from doing things that won't get you what you want is to keep asking "And then what?"

What Incentive?

"OK, Brian... so I need an incentive. What should I use?"

Here's a list you can start with:

  • Sweepstakes
  • Contests
  • Giveaway latest cool product like Flip, iPad, etc.
  • Giveaway one of your product or service
  • Branded items if the item is actually cool and valuable
  • Looking cool to their friends
  • Partner with another company to give away their thing
  • Partner with multiple companies to give away a bunch of things

Read this blog post by Red Bricks Media's Scott Tieman for more thoughts about social media incentives. One of the best points he makes is trying to fit the incentive to the ultimate goal you want from the prospect. If the incentive is unrelated, it won't attract quality prospects, and the ROI won't be as good.