fbpx

ARTICLE

How to Reward Community Members, Even Without a Huge Budget

by | Wed 9 Sep 2020

Today, I want to briefly discuss one of my favorite community-building tactics: amazing reward systems.  How do you use rewards to celebrate amazing work from your members? How do you reward community members, even without a huge budget?

I get a lot of questions about this topic. Many times, people want to know how they can use rewards to keep their community members interested, even with a measly or nonexistent budget for doing so. After all, it can get pricey sending out free t-shirts internationally. 

The reason rewards work so well is that, much like Pavlov’s famous dog, we as humans love to be rewarded for our good behavior, and when we can repeat this good behavior for a couple of months, it gets sealed into our brains as a habit.

Digging Into Rewards

Rewards are a powerful way to nurture your community as it flourishes, however, not all rewards are equal for people building communities. To understand why, let’s first look at my Community Participation Framework from my latest book, “People Powered: How communities can supercharge your business, brand, and teams.”

This framework shows you how to take a new community member from a Casual member to a Regular member, and then on to a Core member. With each bump in community level, there is also a bump in your member’s level of participation. But how do you move them from Casual through to Core?

You can see under these three community levels, there are little black bumps. Those are the rewards for your members! 

In other words: when someone does something, they get something cool.

Do you know why rewards are so powerful for communities? It is because rewards encourage the kinds of behaviors you want to see in your community members – the more they participate and get rewarded, the more their behavior changes.

For example:

  • Do you want casual members to read more content? Reward them for it.
  • Do you want regular members to generate material and get more active? Reward them for it.
  • Do you want better peer reviewed code contributions? Reward them for it.

Habitual behaviors are enormously influenced by rewards!

Two types of rewards: Intrinsic and Extrinsic

So, this all sounds great, but kinds of rewards should I send people?

Well, there two types. Let’s dig into each.

Extrinsic rewards

This is what most people think of when they think of physical perks from a community. Here, you are sending your community members physical goods such as swag and other merchandise. 

For example:

  • T-Shirts
  • Challenge Coins
  • Gadgets
  • Stickers
  • Water Bottles
  • Treats
  • Travel Gear
  • Trophies

The key to making extrinsic rewards work is buying high quality materials in bulk (cheaply) and shipping it to members (also very cheaply.)

However, if either of those things goes awry, you can end up costing your community a lot of money and time. 

So, some tips:

  • Avoid t-shirts: there are different cuts, sizes, and more that massively overcomplicates the process. You usually end up with a load of stock you can’t get rid of. Also, many t-shirts people make suck, so only make t-shirts that look cool. 
  • Focus on interesting, personalized swag that you can ideally put in an envelope to reduce shipping (e.g. Stickers, Challenge Coins etc.)
  • Make sure your shipping is cheap and trackable. If it’s not, it is probably best to focus on intrinsic rewards.  
  • ALWAYS include a handwritten note. (But don’t use your normal signature, otherwise, people could forge it if you do!) 

Tips aside, extrinsic rewards leave you more exposed to things going wrong. This is why I always prefer starting with the second sort of reward.. Intrinsic rewards. 

Intrinsic rewards

In this reward system, you validate your members’ efforts without sending a physical product at all. Instead, you simply actively recognize the work they’ve done! 

For example:

  • Thank you emails
  • Public forum recognition by saying something like “Congrats to ___, they have made some amazing contributions including X, Y, Z…
  • Inviting members to insider planning/team meetings
  • Sending free “VIP” digital content such as e-books, courses, and more
  • Giving them access to the “Batphone”; a direct contact email address that they can reach you and your team when needed

There are 2 main ways intrinsic rewards work for your community: 

  • Social recognition (such as public praise) is a form of validation, and validation is yet another form of reward! 
  • Creates social proof, making not only the rewarded member more inspired, but also his or her peers. 

In Conclusion

I know this is all a lot to think about, so here’s a quick recap of my actionable suggestions for making rewards work for your community better. 

  1. Start by deciding what behaviors you want members to take
  2. Break those behaviors into Casual, Regular, and Core categories, choosing 2 behaviors per category that you can recognize and reward 
  3. Choose your rewards, both Extrinsic and Intrinsic
  4. Think about the most efficient way to implement your rewards once chosen (especially for extrinsic rewards that require logistics.)  

Now go enjoy the uptick in community morale these tips will give you. 

Want to find our more? Check out my video:

BUILD YOUR MOVEMENT.

Unlock the potential of your audience with world-class tutorials, guidance, training, and other content delivered FREE directly to your inbox.

No spam. No selling of your information. No BS.

Want to read some more?

Slack vs. Forums: How to Choose

Slack vs. Forums: How to Choose

In 1934, American essayist Christopher Morley founded a literary society devoted entirely to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels. The inaugural meeting occurred at the Christ Cella restaurant in New York City, as members gathered to discuss the character,...

Nine Critical Best Practices for YouTube Success

Nine Critical Best Practices for YouTube Success

Looking for more YouTube channel success? If so, read on, I'll be giving you 9 tips to make sure you can get there. But First.. Why YouTube? With over 2 billion monthly active users, and over one billion hours of video watched every single day, YouTube’s power and...

Jillian Hufnagel on Building Culture and Growth in Teams

Jillian Hufnagel on Building Culture and Growth in Teams

Jillian Hufnagel is a successful business coach working with companies on topics like emotional agility and harmony in the workplace. Once a teacher and executive assistant, she subsequently became a leader in companies driving healthy emotional cultures. One such...

How to Spot Trends in Blog Content That Boost Traffic

How to Spot Trends in Blog Content That Boost Traffic

Do you need to know how to spot trends in blog content? An estimated 600 million websites on the internet today have blogs, with almost 2 billion blog posts being published every year. That translates into 4,000 blog posts appearing online every minute. That’s a...

How to Have an Executive Session With Yourself

How to Have an Executive Session With Yourself

Are you feeling confused, stressed, or have some issues about your business/career that you need to resolve? If so, you're in the right place. This video covers how to have an executive session with yourself so you can keep growing as a person and business. Having an...

How to Design an Effective Audience for Your Content

How to Design an Effective Audience for Your Content

Pop quiz! Who is your target audience? It should be an easy question to answer, but how specific can you be? When you’re creating content, do you have a well-defined avatar in mind? An honest answer for a lot of content creators would be, “Eh…sort of.” Indeed,...

Pin It on Pinterest

Shares
Share This