As Air New Zealand becomes the latest firm to implement a 'share and earn' scheme, MyCustomer.com debates the trend.
The airline's UK customers can earn up to £50 cash back for every recommendation they make on Facebook, Twitter, email or blog that is turned into a premium economy booking on its 777-300 Premium Economy Spaceseat.
Chris Myers, Air New Zealand’s Europe GM, said: “Since we introduced the new Premium Economy on the London route our customers have been sharing some great experiences with us. This is a great chance for them to now be rewarded for telling their friends and family about it.”
Dell's 'share and earn' scheme - also implemented by DigitalAnimal until it was withdrawn - reportedly had a similar format. According to The Drum, Dell intended to distribute a ‘share and earn’ button to its 200,000 email newsletter subscribers, offering £5 to those whose recommendation resulted in a purchase worth £70 or more.
However, shortly after coverage of the campaign, the hardware giant posted a statement on the The Drum website, revealing that it had been a test programme, which had subsequently been terminated.
Speaking to MyCustomer.com at the time, Marc Blinder, director of European Operations at Adobe’s Social Media Strategy Team, was unsurprised with the move, and argued that the promotion would leave customers with a sour taste.
“My concern is that this campaign lacks the subtlety you'd expect from good marketing. I think customers will feel uncomfortable doing something transparently selfish in front of their friends and I don't think it's a good association for the brand. If it becomes widely known, that Dell pays for shares, it could make some fans much less likely to share in order to preserve their personal reputation,” he said.
But one brand reporting success following implementation of a similar ‘share and earn’ scheme is Parks Resorts, which allowed customers to earn holiday discounts if they shared links on Facebook, Twitter or via a blog post.
According to Econsultancy, the holiday park operator delivered five leads per one share through the campaign. Additionally,
80% of users that signed up to the offer actively shared the links with friends, and on average shared a single link three times, reported the site.
The marketing agency behind the schemes, DigitalAnimal, told MyCustomer.com that instigation begins on brands' own sites or emails and engage users that may or may not be current customers of the brand.
Sanjit Atwal, MD of Digital Animal, explained: "This means that the campaigns we run with our brand partners can be targeted at a number of different user types. For example, we can implement a campaign on a brands home page which allows a user to become a virtual shopper for friends."
He added: "Brands are increasingly looking for new customer acquisition channels and we are in constant contact with large brands that have been tasked with monetising social media effectively. The feedback we have had from both brands and media agencies has been fantastic - it is clear that there is a need to build upon tried and tested recommendation mechanics and through intelligent use of technology we can deliver, on average, five new users back to a brands site from one person sharing out a product or service."
So with a growing number of brands dipping their toe into the share and earn waters, are we witnessing the beginnings of a new marketing marvel? Or is this marketing too manipulative for the social space?
Steve Richards, MD of social media agency Yomego acknowledges that it is basically a "straight affiliate programme" but warns: “The customer response may be hard to gauge. It’s hard to see people recommending anything they wouldn’t genuinely rate on the basis that one day someone might give them a fiver for it. But similarly, friends might begin to recommend when they know a contact is in the market for a new laptop, say. However, people can see through insincerity and unless the products are genuinely great and recommended, it’s unlikely to sway an undecided buyer and might lead to unfriending the unscrupulous."
Nonetheless, Parks Resorts' results speak for themselves. What are your views on 'share and earn'? Would you be happy or concerned if your business used such a programme? And as a consumer, would you recommend something just for the cash?