The Future of Incentives: Digital

In the early days of digital marketing and social media, brand advocacy online was more or less a volunteer effort. Early adopting tech users with good (and bad) consumer experiences with brands took the time to talk about that brand in their own social feeds. The early days were also exciting in the fact that social media opened up this new door for consumers to be able to interact with brands. Marketing was no longer (well in theory anyway) a one-sided conversation where the brands controlled all the messages. Consumers could now be part of that marketing conversation.

It was - and still is - an exciting time. The winds are changing though. The initial thrill of being able to talk to a brand is wearing off. Social media usage is growing exponentially and not all the users want to be part of brand advocacy for kicks. There has to be something in it for them. Companies now have to not just rely on the "yay social media" wave but come up with effective ways to keep the consumer base engaged in conversation about their brand.

That's where incentives and loyalty programs come in.

Incentive and loyalty companies (in theory anyway) are masters in modifying behavior. We typically see this in the form of employee motivation, helping company workers take the necessary to achieve and even excel certain goals. Incentive programs should be designed to drive a certain behavior from a group and reward them accordingly for participating in those behaviors.

Tapping into digital loyalty is a huge opportunity for our industry. Using our knowledge and capabilities to help drive consumer behavior will be huge in the digital space. So a company wants consumers to talk more about their brand about in what ways? Do they want more Twitter mentions? Foursquare or Facebook place checkins? Completed activities on SCVNGR? If they do these things, what's in it for them? How will they be motivated to take part in those behaviors desired by your company/brand.

Digital media and loyalty is going to be part of the incentive industry's future. Loyalty programs will play a much bigger role in successful digital marketing efforts.  What do you think? What other ways will incentives play a part in the future of digital marketing?