The first rule of bribes is: you do not talk about bribes. The second rule of bribes is: you DO NOT talk about bribes! Use words like gift, incentive, free contest, perk, or value exchange instead. And watch out for the UK Bribery Act on 1 June 2011.
With social media and user-generated content, we are all journalists and marketers are finding it quite easy to bribe people.
Here are some guides to give you the idea:
- Free Gift
- Incentives - “Like Gating”
- How to Build a Great Contest - The Daily SEO Blog
- How to Run a Successful Social Media Contest - Social Media Examiner
And some reports from other sites:
- Update 31 May 2011: “The best little twist is the fact that users had to try and get a celebrity to Retweet them as the very last clue to win the phone.”
- Update 11 June 2011: Introducing the Facebook Like & Save. Turn one customer into thousands while increasing your product exposure
- Update 18 June 2011: NO! I am not willing to SPAM my friends for a free bottle of aspirin
- Update 18 June 2011: Do you bribe your friends to hang out with you? - AntiSocialMedia
I think most of us can agree that large bribes are wrong. But it’s much less clear with small bribes. Three examples:
- Suppose you click a link, or signup for a site that offers a prize contest for doing so. Probably with an average value of a few cents. Like millions of other people every day. Do you declare it and look like a pompous ass?
- Suppose you use one of the techniques above to attract extra Twitter followers, so increasing your company’s profile, and winning extra business. Is that wrong?
- This also boosts your Klout score so that you get a cheap holiday in Vegas. Klout asks you to declare the holiday, but not how you qualified to get it. Is that wrong?
Make up your own mind. Preferably before a client asks you to buy some social media influence for them.
This is a difficult issue for me, because the borderline between advertising (which I don’t mind), gamifying (which I like) and things like paid-for retweeting (which I don’t) gets very fuzzy.
I think I have two rules: (1) disclose anything that might appear big enough to affect my judgement, and (2) consider the damage done. A small reward to subscribers is fine, providing it is “fun” and has minimal side-effects, but spamming with bogus retweets or paid hashtags is not. Even if it’s a tactic used by Super Bowl advertisers.
NB: I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.
What do you think?
More links on the subjects of bribes and marketing:
- Publish, engage, sell with ‘ethical bribes’
- Is bribery necessary for social media success?
- Three social media marketing techniques that brands should probably ditch
Also the UK Bribery Act comes into action on 1 June 2011, so
- UK Ministry of Justice, Bribery Act Guidance (PDF)
- UK Bribery Act (Gifts below £500 are ok)
- UK police to chase link brokers and link buyers?