Social Media Motivation: The $100 Solution?

By January 20, 2011Social Media
Jaggers Communications social media workshop

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Over the last few years, I have asked a lot of really smart people how they have inspired others to get on board with social media on behalf of their companies.  On the phone I’ve grilled both Gini Dietrich and Elizabeth Sosnow on this topic and they both had helpful advice.

One of the first answers to my question came from Shel Israel, who said “you have to seduce them into it.” He’s right, of course. But it is not always easy to identify what’s going to make someone get interested in contributing.

My friend Janet Driscoll Miller of Search Mojo was talking about this very topic recently and she noted the same approach endorsed by others in the field who have been successful.

The approach is this: when it comes to encouraging staff members to contribute to a business’s online presence, the only — and really the only — way to be successful in doing this is to make it part of each employee’s job responsibilities. Furthermore, everyone I’ve asked finds it necessary to tie bonus compensation to social media contribution. One firm rewards the employee with the highest ranked blog post for the month with $100 cash.

If, as one firm owner found, money doesn’t motivate, then pulling the hard-core card does; if someone’s not pulling their weight, it’s going to come up in performance reviews.

It’s too bad that for some employees they don’t “get it” and find their own passion, particularly if they’re marketers. It’s sad that some people have to be bribed to do their job well. The tide is bound to turn, however, as employers place a more and more significant emphasis on an employee’s role as an ambassador for the company.

If you’ve dealt with this issue within an agency or any company trying to develop content for the social web, what have you found to be a successful form of motivation? What have you tried that doesn’t work?


  • I gotta disagree here. I would not want anyone who’s not passionate about writing, sharing and communicating doing it on my company’s behalf. I’m not sure I want 100 different voices sharing what they think is cool about what we’re doing, or what they think is NOT cool. Or what’s nobody’s business! At a minimum, there has to be a policy and a process.

    If they’ve been hired based on their social and people skills, then it shouldn’t be an issue. Those guys need a reminder. If they were hired to build software, design widgets, solve technical problems, or install cell towers then their skill sets, and interests, might be decidedly… elsewhere.

    Social media is really fantastic and powerful. But it’s not for everyone, or everything. I think we need to be careful that we don’t assume it’s some marketing cure-all that everyone in the company has to participate in. Not everyone is comfortable in that arena.

    OK, everybody, pile on!

  • You have to seduce them into it.


    I’m going to send you a picture of our Elvis Beanie Baby. It made the rounds as the prize for the highest read blog post of the week. And, when it was your turn to give it up, you had to add something to him.

    It wasn’t money and it’s totally goofy, but people LOVED it!

  • Ken Mueller says:

    Oh let’s see if I can be a fence sitter here…

    I agree with some of what Rusty is saying. If you were hired with social media in your job description, just do it.

    But…I think there is serious value in having other employees on board. Correct, Social Media is not a cure all or magic bullet, and there are some people who aren’t comfortable with it, but…I think there are a lot of people in between: People whose main task isn’t “social media marketing” but ARE comfortable with Social Media. It’s great if you can bet buy in, particularly by dangling a carrot.

    Happy employees can be among your best evangelists (along with happy customers). I follow a number of people who work at companies with rather liberal Social Media policies. When you can tell someone enjoys their work, it’s infectious,and as a consumer, it makes me view the company in a more positive light.

    On more thing, in terms of blogging, when a company commits to blogging, one of the questions is always: who does it and how much time will it take? (ok, that’s two questions, not one). Having multiple bloggers can be a great help, and I know a lot of companies have employees who enjoy writing and would be great at blogging. incentives can help pull that out!

  • Vijay Owens says:

    Hire someone smart and driven who believes in the vision of the company and already gets how to use social media to promote the business and motivation becomes a non issue.

  • Rusty Speidel says:

    I guess my question for you, Gini, is “why?” Why should I have to seduce them into it? Because I need their voice? Because social media is so great everyone should love it? Because the company needs a human voice, or else? 😉

    When you look at from the point of view of a social media strategist or marketing person, it can seem totally obvious–I mean, who WOULDN’T want to blog? But from the other side, not everybody will feel that way. Tacking it onto their job description might put folks on the spot. I’m a fan of the medium and all for getting folks out of their comfort zone, but you all <>, just might, be a little biased in favor of social content development as the primary communications strategy right now. Or I could be totally generalizing and you’re only talking to execs who’ve decided social marketing IS their primary method this year. Inquiring minds wanna know…