The perils of using freebies to build your community

By Frank Gumola on Flickr

In a recent study by Exact Target, consumers were asked to cite their motivation for “liking” a company/brand. The top answer? “To receive discounts and promotions,” the answer given by 40% of respondents.

And the third most frequent answer was similar: “To get a ‘freebie’ (e.g., free samples, coupon),” which was chosen by 39%.

Now before you see this as the cure to all your Facebook woes, consider a couple things:

1. Measuring social media success by sheer number of “likes”/”friends”/”followers” is dangerous and often misleading. Tomorrow, I’ll discuss some better, albeit more complex strategies.

2. More importantly, using freebies to attract Facebook “likes” is like giving away a free pen at your trade show booth. Most people will visit you to get the free pen. Not many of them really care about what you do, and fewer still are qualified prospects. If you think you’ve made a connection with everyone who takes the pen, you’re wrong.

An article in today’s Brandweek provides some good food for thought on this topic. Companies like ConAgra have begun offering “[o]nline coupons and incentives that grow in value as more consumers ‘like’ [the] brand.” And they realize that in itself isn’t the end of the transaction:

“Rather than just putting the coupon on our brand Web site, this gives us an opportunity to engage with the [target consumer—mom] and truly start a dialogue about how Healthy Choice is a great value for the money,” added ConAgra marketing director John Lindell.

It’s easy to give away the pen. It’s much harder to work to convert the recipient into someone who has an affinity for your brand. Understanding the difference is crucial if you want to turn people interested in what you’re giving away into people interested in what you have to offer.

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One Response to The perils of using freebies to build your community

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention The perils of using freebies to build your community | Content -- Topsy.com

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