Do We Really Need to Give People Stuff to Make Them Talk to Us?

by Vered DeLeeuw

I borrowed the title from a blog post written by my friend and client, Diane Hagglund, about whether market research stipends are truly necessary.

I was reminded of Diane’s post after I posted two items to one of my clients’ Facebook pages. The first item was a contest of sorts. We asked the fans to submit a recipe via email. In return, we promised them a prize.

We got a few responses.

The second item was a simple wall posting. We asked the fans a simple question about their preferences when it comes to the client’s products.

We got about 50 responses.

It got me thinking. Customers certainly like to be heard. They like to share their opinions about brands, and they especially like to do so when they know the brand is listening. These customers did not get excited about the prospect of winning a prize. They did get excited when we promised to simply listen to them.

It’s probably important to point out that what we asked them to do for the prize was relatively complex, and that the prize wasn’t huge. On the other hand, the question we asked on the Wall was very simple and easy to answer. These factors might have influenced the way things played out.

But the bottom line is, as much as contests and giveaways and free stuff are fun, social media doesn’t have to revolve around that. There IS place for genuine conversation in social media. So by all means, continue engaging your fans with contests and prizes, but don’t forget, once in a while, to simply listen to them. They really do want to connect with a brand they like. And they really do want to be heard.

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