The Currency of Awesomesauce

Monday, February 11, 2013

By Adam Kleinberg

As digital marketers, we're constantly tasked with getting customers to do something.

Like this. Click that. Comment here. Buy now. Engage, please.

Brands can successfully and consistently accomplish this by rewarding their customers. Those rewards do not have to be financial in nature.

There are a variety of currencies brands can leverage that have real value to consumers—even though many of them are intangible in nature. People desire to do good, to support their communities, to be entertained, to be recognized.

This last one is oft overlooked. But it is very important, particularly for your most important customers, your Net Promoters, the ones who engaged most avidly with your brand.

As I walked up to airport security for a flight yesterday, the guy checking my ID says, "nice hat." As I walked off he says to me, "Keep that awesomesauce flowing, man."

He recognized me. That made me feel good.

Traction's very first client, way, way back in history (2001) was a socially-powered mutual fund called Marketocracy. We helped them build and sustain a community of 60,000 investors who ran virtual portfolios and then Marketocracy created an actual fund based on the stock picks of the top performers in that community.

The company may have been ahead of their time, but remarkably they were able to survive, create a fund that outperformed the S&P 500 and most importantly, keep their most active investors engaged over time .

We accomplished this by recognizing them. We emailed them. We called them on the phone. Sent them stickers. We did road shows and visited them. Long before gamification became a marketing buzzword, we sliced and diced our community to put as many of them as humanly possible on leaderboards to stoke their egos.

And it worked. They kept playing the game. Marketocracy still exists twelve years later.

I thought of this today when I got this email from LinkedIn.

What a simple and elegant way to create value for LinkedIn's best customers. It felt good to be recognized. It felt good to know I was successful at something. It provided intangible value to me and incentivized me to do more of whatever the hell it is I'm doing to get people to look at my profile .

They rewarded me and engaged me with social currency. They made me feel good.

My Facebook Wall was flooded with people sharing the news that people had just recognized them as being in the top 1% or top 5%. LinkedIn is celebrating 200 million members. That's 10 million people they just made feel good about themselves with a single email, posting it on their Facebook Walls, writing blog posts about it.

It's a precious thing when your customers become your fans. Not your Facebook fans... your real fans. Don't take it for granted.

How could you engage your best customers with social currency? How can you keep that awesomesauce flowing?

About the author
Adam Kleinberg

Adam Kleinberg is CEO and and a founding partner of Traction. He has written over 75 articles in publications like AdAge, Adweek, Fast Company, Forbes, Mashable and Digiday.

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