“So, how are you supposed to win the affinity of consumers?” wrote Ragan.com on its blog PR Junkie. “Easy. Give them free stuff.”
Ragan’s was reflecting the findings of a Cone survey, which eMarketer also picked up a while later.
Of course, people will engage a brand online if they are giving away free things. But the problem with giving away free stuff, wrote Peter Shankman is “It brings in NEW CHEAP PEOPLE who want to WIN FREE [redacted].”
I couldn’t agree with Shankman more.
You cannot buy friends, fans or loyalty. I’m not suggesting that a creative contest now and again isn’t a good idea. I do think marketing should mix it up a bit – but it’s a poor vehicle for a central, sustainable and rewarding lead generation or social media program.
Moreover, a better approach is to develop programs offering freebies for your existing customers. Do it as a surprise, asking for nothing in return – with a message thanking them for being a loyal customer. This is a far better way to build customer loyalty.
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