Tag Archive for: consumer brands

We find ourselves amid a monumental transformation, a groundbreaking era in which Artificial Intelligence (AI) is reshaping content creation. What initially started as a subtle tremor has now surged onto our digital horizons, offering boundless opportunities while raising profound inquiries.

Among the vanguard of this revolution is ChatGPT, a sophisticated language model by OpenAI capable of generating remarkably human-like text. From developing storylines for video games to creating engaging blog posts, ChatGPT is becoming an indispensable tool in the arsenal of content creators.

As marketing and PR experts, we navigate a rapidly evolving landscape, a veritable digital jungle where search engine giants like Google reign supreme. While throwing AI-generated content into the mix, understanding this complex dance between AI and search engines has become crucial.

Google and AI: Unraveling an Intricate Dance

A. Google’s Algorithm: Decoding the Enigma

Google’s algorithm, a silent yet omnipotent puppeteer, wields enormous power over the visibility of online content. It’s an intricate system that looks for numerous clues to understand what a site or page is about and how it may be valuable to users. Today, as AI-generated content like ChatGPT becomes increasingly prevalent, understanding the approach of this elusive entity towards AI holds immense importance.

B. Google’s Perception of AI-Generated Content: An Insightful Exploration

It’s a daunting task to assert how Google perceives AI-generated content conclusively. However, we can make some deductions based on Google’s unwavering commitment to delivering relevant and high-quality content to its users. Google could rank it favorably if AI can emulate the complexity, nuance, and quality that typify human topics. It stands as a testament to the strides made by AI in mimicking human-like text generation.

Update 3.5.2024 Scaled Content Abuse

Google’s Core Update announced that they consider “scaled content abuse” as spam. Google defines:

Scaled content abuse is when many pages are generated for the primary purpose of manipulating Search rankings and not helping users. This abusive practice is typically focused on creating large amounts of unoriginal content that provides little to no value to users, no matter how it’s created.

This new policy builds on our previous spam policy about automatically-generated content, ensuring that we can take action on scaled content abuse as needed, no matter whether content is produced through automation, human efforts, or some combination of human and automated processes.

Does that mean ALL AI content is considered spam? No. It means Google is seeing those owned content providers posting hundreds of low-quality blogs/articles that add no value to the reader, and they are denouncing this as spam. If your content has a point of view, adds value to the reader, and creates conversation, Google doesn’t really care HOW you create it.

C. The Challenges and Opportunities for Google: A Closer Look

Despite the promising outlook, AI content brings Pandora’s box of challenges and opportunities for Google. On the downside, there are risks of AI-generated content being used to create spam or manipulate search engine results, a stark deviation from Google’s fair play principles.

Conversely, AI can aid Google in its mission to organize the world’s data and make it universally accessible. Sophisticated AI systems like ChatGPT can help churn out high-quality content, enhancing the overall user experience. Google, ever adaptive, continually evolves its algorithms to mitigate challenges and harness opportunities, a dance as complex as it is fascinating.

ChatGPT Unmasked: Behind the AI Curtain

A. A Journey into the Inner Workings of ChatGPT

To comprehend the marvel that is ChatGPT, we delve into its complex operations. ChatGPT results from an intricate blend of machine learning, data processing, and linguistic algorithms. Utilizing a massive dataset, it crafts coherent, engaging text often indistinguishable from that written by a human hand.

B. ChatGPT’s Unique Proposition: Contextually Relevant Content

What sets ChatGPT apart from its contemporaries is its inherent capacity for creating contextually relevant content. The AI model doesn’t merely string together fitting words; it weaves them into complex, layered narratives that captivate the reader; as communication experts, we recommend you edit these narratives to your own voice and expertise. Whether constructing an absorbing treatise on a topic as arcane as quantum physics or spinning a fascinating description around something as commonplace as office stationery, ChatGPT is an invaluable tool for ideating blog posts.

C. ChatGPT’s Narrative Capacity: Crafting Engaging Stories

A remarkable facet of ChatGPT lies in its storytelling prowess. This language model can narrate an engaging tale, craft an argument, or discuss a technical topic easily. The outcome is a rich and nuanced narrative appealing to a broad spectrum of readers. From the connoisseur of quantum mechanics to the office worker seeking the perfect pen, ChatGPT’s generated content can cater to all, making it a truly revolutionary tool in AI content.

Does Google Have a Soft Spot for ChatGPT

A. Unraveling the Google-ChatGPT Interplay: A Complex Narrative

The relationship between Google and ChatGPT is far from straightforward. It’s a subtle dance of algorithms and AI, shrouded in mystery, with no official statements from Google clarifying their stance on ChatGPT-generated content. Yet, valuable clues are hidden in the intricate tapestry of data and expert insights.

B. Google and ChatGPT: What the Data Shows

One of the most telling pieces of evidence comes from a recent experiment where a ChatGPT-generated blog post on climate change made its mark on Google’s search results. The AI-crafted content held its own and even outshone some human-written counterparts on the same topic.

This compelling case suggests that Google’s algorithm can view well-structured, contextually relevant ChatGPT content in a favorable light. In other words, when ChatGPT gets it right, it shines.

C. Expert Opinions: The Human Perspective

Experts in the field of SEO and AI also offer intriguing perspectives. Some argue that Google’s positive response to ChatGPT content is inevitable, given its primary mandate—serving users the most relevant and valuable content. If ChatGPT can deliver on these fronts, Google might not only have a soft spot for it but potentially consider it a valuable ally in enhancing user experience. Further ChatGPT content requires an eye for editing as the content can be misleading or even wrong.

AI Content in the SEO Landscape: Disruptor or Ally

A. The Emergence of AI: Shaking up the SEO Landscape

With AI content generation tools like ChatGPT leading the charge, the traditional SEO landscape is witnessing a drastic shift. Once etched in stone, it disrupts the norms, strategies, and practices, compelling SEO experts to rapidly adapt, innovate, and weave AI into their playbook.

B. AI: An Alley or an Adversary to SEO

AI’s role in SEO raises a critical question: Is AI an ally or an adversary? The answer is somewhat nuanced. AI serves as an ally in many respects. It accelerates the content creation process, saving precious time and resources. It can generate vast volumes of text, bridging the gap between supply and demand in content-heavy industries.

C. The Challenges Posed by AI: A Word of Caution

However, AI can pose challenges with its human-like but not human-perfect writing. While AI tools like ChatGPT have made impressive strides, they can occasionally produce content with linguistic consistency, lack of depth, or missing the much-needed human touch. These hiccups remind us that while AI can emulate human writing to a great extent, it isn’t ready for cold publishing – yet.

The PR Content Conundrum: Navigating the AI Tide

A. AI in PR: A Transformative Force

In Public Relations, the wave of AI, with its powerful riptides, has the potential to redefine content creation. It promises a future of unparalleled efficiency and scalability yet concurrently presents the possibility of diluting the human-centric essence that has traditionally been the lifeblood of PR content.

B. The Promises of AI: An Uplifting Prospect

On the one hand, AI, with tools like ChatGPT, offers a silver lining. It promises to liberate PR professionals from routine, mundane tasks. With AI shouldering the burden of generating actual content, PR content experts could focus on strategic planning, fostering relationships, and crafting impactful narratives.

C. Experts Weigh In A Mixed Bag of Opinions

However, AI-induced euphoria is only sometimes universal. Some experts caution against potential pitfalls. An over-reliance on AI could lead to depersonalized messaging, risking the loss of the emotional connection that forms the cornerstone of effective PR content. Ethical quandaries surround AI-generated PR content, especially regarding authenticity and transparency.

3.5.2024 Update: 

Google says it prioritizes people-first content. In other words, write for people, not search engines. I’ve long, long, long said this was the direction that Google would continue to go, but if you only been writing for search engines, now is the time to double down on quality. I would suggest that Google values quality over quantity every day. It’s almost impossible to churn out 50-100 well-thought-out pieces/day, so think through your strategies.

The checklist linked above provides great insights, but this is what caught my eye, specifically for thought leaders contributing to ANY digital outlet:

  • Does the content present information in a way that makes you want to trust it, such as clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page?
  • If someone researched the site producing the content, would they come away with an impression that it is well-trusted or widely-recognized as an authority on its topic?
  • Is this content written or reviewed by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?
  • Does the content have any easily verified factual errors?

Is Google Biased Against AI Content? An Unbiased Examination

A. Decoding Google’s Algorithm: A Bias Against AI Content

Could Google’s algorithm be inherently prejudiced against AI content? This question, loaded with complexity, offers no definitive answers. What we do know is that Google’s algorithm is a constantly evolving creature, designed with the primary objective of enhancing the user experience.

B. The User Experience Priority: The Real Winner

If AI-generated content aligns with this goal—delivering relevance, quality, and value—it could stand up well against any potential bias. As we’ve seen from our ChatGPT experiment, when AI nails these elements, Google might not just tolerate it but possibly even favor it.

C. A Word of Caution for Content Creators: Vigilance and Adaptation

Yet, for content creators leveraging AI tools, this doesn’t signal a green light to complacency. Vigilance and constant adaptation are necessary. AI must be wielded to uphold content quality and relevance while respecting Google’s guidelines.

Navigating the AI-Google Nexus: A Survival Guide for Content Creators

Navigating the dynamic AI-Google nexus can be an arduous journey. Yet, with a few guiding principles, content creators can transform this challenge into an opportunity. Here are some actionable tips to effectively ride the AI-Google wave:

A. Respecting Google’s Rules: A Non-Negotiable

First and foremost, ensure that AI-generated content aligns with Google’s content guidelines. Google values original, relevant, and high-quality content humans or AI create. Ensure your AI tool, such as ChatGPT, is configured to generate content that aligns with these principles.

B. The Power of Human Review: Enhancing AI Content

Second, remember that AI-generated content can significantly benefit from the human touch. Having a human review and edit AI content can enhance its quality and ensure it fits neatly within the parameters set by Google’s algorithm. It can significantly boost your SEO performance, striking the right chords with both Google and your audience.

C. Striking a Balance: The Hybrid Approach

Lastly, consider a hybrid approach, combining AI-generated and human-created content. While AI efficiently creates bulk, structured content, humans bring an irreplaceable depth of understanding, emotional intelligence, and creativity. Striking a balance between the two might be your winning ticket in the evolving SEO landscape.

These strategies can help content creators navigate the exciting yet challenging path of the AI-Google relationship, crafting a content journey that delights both the search engine giant and readers.

Redefining Content Strategy: A New Framework for AI and SEO

A. Reminiscing the Traditional Content Strategy: A Journey Through Time

Content strategy, in its traditional sense, was largely human-driven. From brainstorming topic ideas, keyword research, and content creation to SEO optimization and distribution, human hands and minds are painstakingly crafting every step. The advent of AI has added a new, exciting layer to this well-established process.

B. Integrating AI into Your Content Strategy: A Bold New Frontier

Enter AI tools like ChatGPT, and the content strategy field is rife with new possibilities. ChatGPT can be a game-changer with its ability to generate engaging, contextually relevant text at scale. But how does one integrate it into their content strategy without compromising quality or SEO performance?

The key lies in creating a symbiotic relationship between human expertise and AI efficiency. Use AI for what it excels at—generating bulk content, brainstorming topic ideas, or even identifying trending keywords. Then, let human judgment and creativity fine-tune this output, infusing it with a personal touch, depth, and strategic direction.

C. Mastering the AI-Google Tango: Best Practices for Your Content Strategy

To ensure that your AI-enhanced content strategy aligns with Google’s ever-evolving algorithms, consider the following best practices:

  • Maintain Quality: High quality is paramount whether the content is human-written or AI-generated.
  • Stay Relevant: Make sure the AI content is contextually relevant, factually accurate, and offers value to the readers.
  • Embrace Review: Always have a human review AI-generated content for quality assurance.
  • Be Transparent: If you are using AI to generate content, maintain transparency about it with your readers.

Incorporating these practices into your content strategy ensures you stay in Google’s good books and capitalize on AI content generation’s benefits. The road ahead is a fascinating confluence of AI, SEO, and human creativity. Our journey has just begun as content creators, and the future holds immense promise.

This new framework for AI and SEO is not about replacing the human touch but about augmenting it with the power of AI, defining a new era of content strategy.

Conclusion

We find ourselves at the crossroads, navigating the tumultuous waters of a Google-driven, AI-enabled world. The dance between AI and Google is complex yet filled with possibilities. For SEO and PR professionals, the key lies in harnessing the power of AI, like ChatGPT, while maintaining sight of the human element and Google’s preferences. It is not a question of AI versus humans, but rather, AI and humans.

So, let us embrace this revolution, stepping boldly into this new era of content creation and finding our rhythm in this intricate dance with Google and AI.

A couple of times a year, I reach out to my network of consumer brand experts and agency owners to ask them what they’re telling their clients right now. As consumer brands prepare for the holiday shopping season, my SEO, PR, Content, and Web Development colleagues are urging their clients to give themselves an edge given the competitive nature of the fourth quarter.

1. Prioritize and Plan

Organic & SEO do take a bit of time to kick in, -Jason Berkowitz, Break the Web

Given that organic & SEO do take a bit of time to kick in, starting on this fully now allows you to get the heavy lifting out of the way, without stressing when the season hits.

“If an increase in non-branded organic traffic is a marketing goal, then strategizing the plan of attack today,” says consumer brand expert Jason Berkowitz.

-Jason Berkowitz, Break the Web

“Paid media …doesn’t need to get started until September.” -Steve Krull, Be Found Online

Consumer brand digital marketing expert Steve Krull is urging brands to review their content and SEO strategy now. “There are two things I will typically work with clients on as we approach the holidays – Strategy & SEO with Content. Paid media …doesn’t need to get started until September.”

Krull recommends reviewing your holiday strategy to ensure it’s keeping up with the latest online changes, and your brand’s evolution. For a well-defined strategy, start with the questions:
Define your goals & metrics?
Identify your best revenue channels?
Ask: what’s different about this year?
Are there new ideas or channels you might test NOW in order to be prepared?

For SEO, update your existing content. If you’re an eCommerce or DTC brand, update your Category & Sub-Category pages as “Pillar Pages” to attract and distribute users and organic traffic.

-Steve Krull, Be Found Online

 

2. Improve UX with the Latest Data

Data-backed strategies can make a big difference during the holiday season in 2023. -Travis McAshan, Glide Design

Travis McAshan is wildly passionate about the consumer shopping experience, “As someone who spends my days thinking about user experience design, I have a few recommendations to consider as we gear up for the holiday season in 2023,” he says.

“While there’s a list of usual suspects you’d typically hear about – improving site performance, enhancing the user-friendly aspect of your consumer brand design, focusing on mobile-responsive elements, dialing in your site security, refining your CTAs, simplifying the checkout process, and so on, I’d rather shed light on a few often-overlooked, counter-intuitive aspects,” McAshan continues.

 “From understanding decision-making behavior to using design elements strategically, each of these less obvious, data-backed strategies can make a big difference during the holiday season in 2023.” McAshan encourages consumer brands to update thier website using data and improving the UX experience with these seven tips.

1) Limit Choices: According to Hick’s Law, decision-making time increases with the number of choices available. A study by the Neilson Norman Group supports this, showing that you can improve conversions by curating your offerings instead of overwhelming users with options.

2) Emphasize Negative Space: Google’s research found that visual complexity negatively affects user perception. An ’empty’ or negative space can make your website feel clean and draw attention to key elements, improving the overall user experience.

3) Intrigue Users with a Delayed Reveal: Consumer brand experts love to leave them wanting more. A Harvard Business School study discovered that adding a slight delay or hurdle before revealing a discount or special offer increases user engagement and satisfaction.

4) The Paradox of Image Size: CXL Institute’s A/B test found that smaller product images can sometimes outperform larger ones. They allow users to see the product details and the purchase button simultaneously without scrolling.

5) Design for the Impatient: A study by Columbia Business School revealed that customers tend to choose options that promise shorter waiting times, even over more beneficial alternatives. Optimizing your estimated delivery times can, counter-intuitively, boost conversions.

6) The Psychology of Colors: Maxymiser’s study found that ‘warm’ colors like red used for CTA buttons can increase conversion rates. Color choice is more than just aesthetics – it can drive actions.

7) Leverage Social Proof: The principle of ‘Fear of Missing Out’ (FOMO) can be powerful. Software company Figleaves, for example, increased their conversion rate by 12.5% just by showcasing how many people were currently viewing a product.

 

-Travis McAshan, Glide Design

 

3. Prepare for the Holiday Season: Integrate Operations, PR, and Social Media

 

Prepare and stay flexible; that’s what Jive PR and SEO’s consumer brand experts recommend. Brittany Robertson and Jalila Singerff recommend these five steps to prepare for the holidays for consumer brands.

Anticipate and prepare for potential challenges, – Brittany Robertson + Jalila Singerff (Director of Social Media + Director of Public Relations), Jive PR Digital

1. Evaluate Objectives and Past Performance: Assess the brand’s current objectives and review the performance of the previous holiday season. This analysis will help identify successful strategies and areas that require improvement, allowing the brand to align itself optimally for success.

2. Engage in PR Activities: From a public relations perspective, prepare for holiday press placements by pitching to print press in July. This aligns with the time when editors are sourcing products for their holiday issues. Pitch to other channels such as online, broadcast, podcast, and radio during the fall leading up to the holiday season.

3. Assess Social Media Presence: Review the social media presence of competitors during the previous holiday season and evaluate your brand’s social media performance. Analyze what strategies worked and what didn’t, and implement improvements for the upcoming season. In particular, leverage influencer marketing as a crucial component to generate sales and create gift-related content. Plan budgets and identify key products for collaborations with influencers to ensure an effective campaign.

4. Optimize Website and Social Media Channels: Update the consumer brand’s website and social media channels to be optimized for the holiday season. Create new content and promotions to attract new customers and keep existing customers engaged. This can include refreshing product images, conducting lifestyle shoots, incorporating user-generated content, and utilizing influencer-driven content.

5. Prepare for Potential Challenges: Anticipate and prepare for potential challenges such as supply chain disruptions or staffing shortages. Develop contingency plans to mitigate any adverse effects and ensure that the business can continue to operate smoothly.

-Brittany Robertson + Jalila Singerff (Director of Social Media + Director of Public Relations), Jive PR Digital

4. Create SEO Advantage with Long-Tail Content and Lesser Celebrated Holidays

 

Ross Johnson, SEO expert for consumer brands is recommending  ambitious consumer brands use these six tips to stand out in search.

While long tail keywords have lower search volume individually, they often have MORE search volume in aggregate. -Ross Johnson, 3.7 Designs

mobile shopping continues to grow, especially during the holiday season. Ensure that your website provides a seamless and intuitive mobile experience, allowing shoppers to browse and make purchases easily on their mobile devices.\n\n6. Don’t sleep on lesser celebrated holidays\n\nConsumer buy presents for Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year, and even Thanks Giving. These Holidays typically have much less competition while still having high purchase intent.\n \n”}” data-sheets-userformat=”{“2″:641,”3”:{“1″:0},”10″:0,”12″:0}”>1. Consumer Brand Experts: Start your content marketing now, update later

You could publish articles on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other holiday buyers guides now and update them as you get closer to the holiday season.

2. Optimize for holiday-related keywords

Incorporate the following keywords into your content article titles,  for example: Cyber Monday 2023 Gifts for New Fathers.

– Holiday Gifts 2023
– Black Friday 2023
– Cyber Monday 2023
– Holiday Shopping 2023
– Gift Ideas 2023

3. Focus on long-tail keywords

In a competitive niche, it’s challenging to rank for generic keywords like “shoes” or “weighted blanket.” Instead, aim for more specific and detailed phrases like “colorful running shoes for women” or “gifts for people who love weighted blankets.”

While long tail keywords have lower search volume individually, they often have MORE search volume in aggregate. Be aware that this approach requires publishing significantly more content than generic keywords.

4. Leverage non-text media

Holiday shoppers are more likely to search for images, videos, Google shopping, local search, and podcasts. Optimize your images, create video reviews or buyer’s guide videos, explore podcast interviews, or even launch your own podcast to engage with your target audience through different channels.

5. Optimize your mobile experience

Prioritize optimizing your mobile experience as mobile shopping continues to grow, especially during the holiday season. Ensure that your website provides a seamless and intuitive mobile experience, allowing shoppers to browse and make purchases easily on their mobile devices.

6. Don’t sleep on lesser celebrated holidays

Consumers buy presents for Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year, and even Thanksgiving. These Holidays typically have much less competition while still having high purchase intent.


-Ross Johnson, 3.7 Designs

 

5. Make Your Brand Differences Your Consumer Brand Strength

Brand expert Chris Lam reminds consumer brands to polish up their brand. Lam says two of the most important ways consumer brands can prepare for the holiday season is understanding the customer and their pain points.

Incorporate your competitive advantage into existing content and copy -Chris Lam, Chris Lam Connects

  1. Brands really have to understand their customer. We hear this all.the.time, and there’s a reason for it. What exactly are those pain points that customers are facing and that your service or product can provide a solution or ease a pain point? (It’s not always literal or point-blank obvious.) Take the time to get to know your customer. Poll them. Engage them. Ask them. Get that feedback from the people or orgs that use your product or service.2. Emphasize How You Help the Customer. I also think consumer brands also need to remember what their competitive advantage is against their competitors and highlight it, especially if it appeals and (again) alleviates a pain point for their customer. Among all the other brands that a consumer can go to, why should they choose your brand? Flesh that out, maybe even consider this as a campaign by itself. Or incorporate your competitive advantage into existing content and copy.

-Chris Lam, Chris Lam Connects

Marketing to influencers and advocates is all the rage, fueled by social media. But if you’ve ever developed a consumer campaign with influencers and/or advocates, you know it can be filled with land mines.
Part of that is what inspires advocates and influencers is different. In my last post about Captivation Motivations, I shared with you the secret driver you’ve already heard of behind so many of our snap decisions and just BARELY touched on rewards and lures.

But they’re actually super closely related to what’s behind our fastest decisions to click, like, join, sign up, or buy. If you’ve played an app or computer game, you’ve probably noticed that these games are getting more addictive (eh, em, Candy Crush anyone?). It’s not just better graphics and faster speeds that are making these games addictive, it’s the deeper understanding of what really motivates people to continue playing and one of those is the power of rewards.

I will get to the secret successful games used in a minute, but first, I want to share something else with you. If you’re thinking of running a giveaway, a promotion, or even thinking of starting an app, you want to keep reading. If you’re using digital and social media to market your brand (and I know you are), you’ll want to keep reading. If you’re doing affiliate marketing, you will want to keep reading.  What I’m about to share with you is essential and will ultimately make or break your product or promotion and even marketing relationships with influencers and advocates, including journalists.

 

You Scratch My Back…Carefully.

The last time someone bought you lunch, I bet your parting words were, “It’s on me next time!” You probably said it without asking where you might go or checking your bank account or calendar. You just blurted it out. The truth is, we’re hard-wired to return favors. Think about that for a minute. We are deeply, sincerely uncomfortable when we think we must return a favor. Next time you run a promotion on Facebook, do a test. Ask people to like the page BEFORE entering the contest and compare that to the results if you ask AFTER you’ve given them something, even if it’s just a chance to win. Chances are you’ll find that if you ask AFTERwards, your conversion percentage goes way up, AND those people remain engaged for longer.
This is because lures trigger our sense of reciprocity.

Want to hear an old-school example of this?
Ever received mailing labels from a nonprofit that you didn’t ask for? Did you know that sending mailing labels with a request for a donation has been shown to DOUBLE donations? And guess what? The average donation is way, way more than the value of the labels.
Why? Because reciprocity is a compelling motivation, and it comes with a quirk: what we give for what we receive has very little to do with the financial value of either. You give something, ANYTHING, of some value without placing a value on it, and the reciprocity trigger kicks in. This is the idea behind successful content marketing.

 

Why You Should Never Pay Your Advocates

There’s a lot of discussion today about influencer and advocate marketing. Lures and rewards are different. Lures give without the expectation on the giver’s part of receiving anything in return. That triggers reciprocity by the receiver.
Rewards are given with the expectation of the receiver to get something in exchange, so no sense of reciprocity is triggered.

Rewards (generally) kill reciprocity, but they can create habits if done correctly (like training your dog).
But it’s tough for marketers to get the consistency required to create a habit. Hell, it’s hard to get the consistency required to create a habit in dog; ask anyone who’s tried.

But marketers can more easily create reciprocity, which is an extremely powerful motivation that rewards do not trigger. Here’s the rub though: reciprocity has some limitations too.
If you offered rewards to those who were already advocating for you to do what they were already doing, you’d see that their desire to support you moving forward would be slipping. That’s because offering a reward on contingency (do this 3X/week and receive that reward) for something someone is ALREADY motivated to do, decreases the desire. And unless you understood this motivational fact, you’d probably be left scratching your head about what happened.
Tread lightly with your advocates, because your appreciation can decrease their motivation if you aren’t careful.

This isn’t to say rewards aren’t effective. They can be very effective. “Share this and receive that…” you see it all the time. That’s a reward, not a lure. Again, ask my dogs. They know if they do something, there’s a good chance there’s a treat for them. That’s a reward; they’ve been conditioned to expect it. Rewards can be potent tools for increasing reach. It creates increased reach by those who AREN’T your advocates; depending on your strategy, that can be very important. Just don’t confuse people you give a reward to as an advocate.

Time: The Biggest Reciprocity Trigger

If you’re really interested in triggering reciprocity, then you should probably do two things:
1) get to know your customer really well
2) think beyond monetary lures (discounts, coupons, even product giveaways).

The reasons for this are two-fold:

Our 90% of the brain (the oldest, largest, and most primitive part of our brain) inherently knows that time is more valuable than items. We inherently value experiences (millennials especially) more than items, so although the default is often a coupon or discount, experiences are more highly valued. Receiving an experience from a product or brand increases reciprocity. So if you use an experience as a reward, you can trigger reciprocity. But to offer a highly valued experience, you really have to know your customer. What YOU think your customer values may differ completely from what they actually value. In the last post, we discussed information seeking as a dopamine trigger, which can also be a reward. So can mastery-this is the essence of gamification. Becoming good at something is its reward and the longer we spend on achieving that reward, the more we value it. Again, what your customers value may include inclusion in a tribe, recognition, or status. All these things can be valuable rewards AND lures for brands.

The other thing to understand is that placing a distinct financial value on a lure (or a reward) kinks up the perceived value. Let me give you an example: If I invited you to dinner at my house for a homemade dinner that was wonderful (of course it would be FABULOUS), but then I spent all night talking about how much I spent on buying the ingredients of the dinner, two things would happen. 1) you would view the dinner as a sum of parts rather than its whole value of time, effort, and community, and 2) you probably wouldn’t feel a sense of reciprocity, no matter how fabulous the dinner was. Don’t force your influencers OR your advocates to view your rewards or lures as a sum of parts by involving money too heavily; it kills goodwill AND reciprocity. This is part of the power of consumer PR – it triggers goodwill and reciprocity with journalists. If you’re going to use rewards or lures, remember, make it something the customer values and think about how to make more valuable than money.

Here’s the bottom line: use rewards for influencers and lures for advocates.

Can you think of a time when a marketing strategy with lures or rewards turned you off? Share them with me here or in social media; it’s a fascinating discussion I love hearing about.

About the Captivation Motivations:

The Captivation Motivations are all built around the “other 90%” of our brain. The part of our brain that is the oldest and most developed part of our brain.

I didn’t make up the Captivation Motivations; I’ve simply been studying them and their effects since 2008. I’ve been testing them in my strategies and tactics, reading and writing about them.
These motivations are not some flash-in-the-pan-do-whats-trendy-now strategy, these are strategies that trigger reactions from the oldest part of our brain. Over the last few years, more and more has been understood about these motivations. But one thing is clear: even though these motivations developed in the earliest days of humanity’s survival of the fittest experiences, these motivations are very much alive and well today. What triggers them in the modern world differs from what triggered them in our earliest evolutionary days.