If people are not engaging with your content, let’s be honest: there are probably a myriad reasons. Perhaps you’re not listening, your efforts are inconsistent or you’re just wasting too much time. From my experience, however, the concept of effort vs. reward can make a huge different to your engagement levels, if you can get it right.
Here’s the crux of the concept:
The reward must be equal to or greater than the effort.
Here’s what I mean by that: every time you ask (whether explicitly or not) for people to take action, you must do two things in return—offer them a reward that equals or betters this action, and make it clear to them what the reward is.
Let’s break this down.
An action you ask for might consist of:
- Following you on Twitter
- Liking your Facebook page
- Adding you to Google+ circles
- Reading an article or blog post
- Leaving a comment
- Sharing your content on social networks
- Subscribing to your blog
And of course, many more. These are all actions that the user has to take, which reward you and your business.
But in return for taking these actions, the user must get something out of it. It’s a rare customer that wants to help your business for absolutely no reason, right? So how do you reward customers, and encourage them to take these actions to support you?
Rewards might include:
- Being part of a conversation—getting a response to their comments, being encouraged to continue interacting, being thanked for their contribution
- Regular, high-quality content—whether this is blog posts, tweets, or status updates
- Being part of a community—being involved in discussions, games, activities
- Freebies—discounts, special offers and competitions
As you can see, ‘reward’ doesn’t necessarily mean giving away freebies or material rewards. The idea is that the user gets something of value in return for taking action.
There is an easy trap to fall into here, though. Knowing that you have a great reward on offer may leave you wondering why customers aren’t knocking down your virtual door to get at it.
Apart from offering the reward, the most important thing you can do is let users know about it. On Twitter, for instance, other users can see your previous tweets, your bio, and your stats before they start following you. This is how they decide whether the reward (quality of your tweets) is likely to be worth the action (of following you).
Giving your customers a teaser or sneak peek of the reward helps them make a decision. On your blog, for instance, new visitors can read your previous posts, view your tag cloud and peruse your blog post categories. Using this information, they can then make an informed decision about whether to subscribe or not.
So, what have we learned?
1. Before asking for (or expecting) a user action, you must offer a reward.
2. This reward needs to be equal to or greater than the action required.
3. Make it clear what the reward is, before asking the user to take action.
Photo credit: dibytes