Increase Engagement with a Social Rewards Program
Do you tweet your favorite sports team happy thoughts (aka, pleads and demands) on game day? Do you tag them on Facebook after a big play? Like their photos on Instagram? What if you could earn reward points for virtually supporting your favorite team? Better yet, what if teams could create a social media rewards program to increase engagement with their fans?
The Carolina Hurricanes scored big with this very idea. Their social media rewards program allows users to earn points towards fan experiences and merchandise by interacting with the NHL team on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Foursquare. The program has proven successful with fans as well as the Hurricanes’ marketing team.
So, how can you utilize this winning program for your brand? I reached out to Doug Warf, Vice President of Marketing with the Carolina Hurricanes, to find out how this rewards program was brought to life.
1. Tell us a little bit about how the Canes Rewards program got started?
We have passionate fans and we wanted to both thank and incentivize them to spread news about our team. We know that the best way to spread the game of hockey and our team’s brand is to utilize our fans. Our fans are definitely our best salespeople.
2. What were the main objectives when developing this program?
Our main objective was to increase engagement with our key social media channels. Impressive numbers of followers are futile if the users are not engaged with the content being produced. Our social media mantra is “talk with, not at,” and we felt Canes Rewards was a great way to further our ability to “talk with” our fans.
3. Who played a role in building this program?
A few key people in our marketing department researched teams that were using either the Fanmaker platform or something similar to it. We wanted to make sure that if we implemented the program that we were able to follow-through with our commitment. Without proper execution you risk turning your most passionate supporters into critics. Coop Elias, our social media specialist, was the driving force behind the launch of Canes Rewards.
4. How did you problem solve the various regulations on the different platforms? For example, fans cannot earn points through Facebook likes.
Some of this is trial and error as new regulations seem to constantly be on the horizon. I think the key is to openly communicate any changes as they occur. If you hope that changes will not be noticed, you have greatly underestimated the intelligence of your users.
5. What advice would you give other marketing teams interested in starting a social rewards program?
Make sure you can fully execute all necessary items including set-up, activation, maintenance, updates and prize fulfillment. It is not as easy as it sounds.
6. How has the rewards program been successful in your eyes?
The program has definitely been successful as it is has helped increase our engagement, our followers and the overall reach of our brand. We posted two similar videos, one before implementing the program and one shortly after its implementation. Before Canes Rewards, we saw six retweets; after, we saw nearly 100.
7. Finally, it seems shocking that more sports teams are not offering this type of program. Would you recommend starting a social rewards program to other teams or brands?
Without a doubt. The beauty of social media for sports teams is that it increases the connection between the fans and the team. The more you can do to tighten that bond the better.
What did we learn from this Stanley Cup-winning marketing team?
- It’s important to remember that your fans can be your best salespeople.
- A social rewards program provides the opportunity to talk with your fans, not at them.
- Social media increases the connection between fans/consumers and teams/brands, and a rewards program is a chance to enhance that relationship.
- There’s no “I” in team. Don’t tackle this venture on your own.
- Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Know your organization’s limits and keep up-to-date with regulations enforced by each social media platform.
- As we know, social media is constantly evolving, which means there will always be guideline adjustments. Don’t brush any changes under the rug. Be prompt and transparent with any changes to your program to avoid angry fans.
See the Canes Rewards program in action and follow the Carolina Hurricanes on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I’d like to extend a huge thank you to Doug Warf and Coop Elias for sharing part of their playbook with us!
Let’s Go Canes!
Tell us about yourself and sign up for our weekly newsletter, Social You Should Know. You'll receive the latest social media news and insights from Jim Tobin and the Ignite Social Media team.