Using Rewards to Motivate Your Online Community

Last week during my presentation on How To Motivate an Online Community to the University of Reddit Community, one of the participants asked about using rewards. This is a great question and one I can shed some light on.

Here’s a list of the top 4 ways to use rewards to motivate your online community:

1. Feature a member’s blog post on your community homepage. As community members begin to publish content, identify which is unique and compelling and highlight it in your community. Rotate the members you highlight so you’re not always promoting the same person or group of people. To see an example of this, check out how GovLoop does this with a rotating carousel, and Today’s Top 10.

2. Feature a member in your email/newsletter. Hopefully you are communicating with your members on a regular basis (that being at least once per week). As you develop the content for these messages, highlight the folks in your community that are doing great stuff. This will not only increase engagement with the member you are highlighting, but will also motivate others who would love to see their name in lights.

3. Send members a personal thank you note – either a physical note or an email. Hearing firsthand from the community manager, especially of a large community means a huge amount to members. Say something like: “Dear (name), You’ve been a key part of making the (name of community) awesome. As such, I’d like to honor you as part of a select tribe with the virtual 2012 (name of community) Trophy for Awesomeness.” Write it in whatever tone is appropriate for your community.

4. Send swag. Send your exceptional members something as a thanks – a t-shirt, sticker, lanyard, water bottle, whatever works for you! Or even something unbranded, like a Starbucks card, or a voucher to have coffee sometime. This little bit of time and money goes a LONG way in motivating members. Always remember to make it personal. That’s why it will count.

What else do you think motivates online community members?