community management, engagement

What Do You Reserve For Your Most Loyal Fans?

2 Comments 20 May 2013

Image courtesy of kaniths

Image courtesy of kaniths

The imitable Sarah Robinson recently spoke about the irony that daily deal sites such as Living Social offer incentive deals for new customers, yet it is even more important to reward your most loyal customers with your best pricing. That really stuck in my head. Mission-driven organizations have not really thought much rewarding loyalty by offering their very best deals to their most loyal online fans. And frankly, it’s an oversight, because it’s a game-changing idea for the nonprofit sector.

Mission-driven organizations generally consider offering the best deals to their most generous donors. However, the most loyal online stakeholders do so much of the work of the organization, from bringing others into the organization, to friendraising dollars, to taking tangible action. Both types of stakeholders are critical to mission fulfillment, yet one is more openly and frequently rewarded than the other.

How should we define “most loyal customers” in terms of online stakeholders and fans?

This really depends on the organization, of course, but generally speaking these are the online fans who you know you can count on to support your messages, and will always share your news, activism, and actions. You could easily expand that definition to include those who comment a lot on your blog or social network channel, because they have “some skin in the game.” I might even suggest several categories of “most loyal customers” with rewards commensurate to loyalty and activity.

What do your most loyal customers want?

If you are MomsRising, you’ve vetted your very loyal customers and brought them into the strategy core of the organization. Washington State’s MomsRising local chapter gathered supporters to form the Capital Moms, a selected group that helps the organization develop political action strategy and advise the organization on the inside track to advocacy. For those MomsRising stakeholders, their greatest reward was being inside the planning and strategy of a campaign.

For the USA for UNHCR, anyone who wanted to really support the organization’s Blue Key online campaign was invited to sign up to be part of its campaign Facebook group, and actively develop the campaign’s online campaigns with other online supporters.

The Jamaica Plain NDC named a new apartment building after longtime community activist and JPNDC volunteer Nate Smith, calling it the Nate Smith House. That’s one way to reward community activism offline.

A first step is to find out what your most loyal online stakeholders want. Survey them. Ask them why they are involved and what they most would love from you in return.

What is the “best pricing” equivalent you can offer that also deeply satisfies the interests of your most loyal fans?

What is it that you have to reward online stakeholders with? Could your organization offered a free “meet the folks at the organization” invitation-only online event for the most loyal fans? Or send them an organizational membership? Or name something after them?

They key to what you offer, though, isn’t only what they want, but the best deal that you can give them. You have to have skin in the game too.

In other words, as Sarah said, offer the equivalent of your best pricing. It may “cost” you something in the short-term, but the longer term payoff for the organization is a deepened loyalty.

It’s time that we began thinking about how to reward our most loyal online fans in a systematic way. How do you reward yours?

(For an inspiring 40 seconds, watch Sarah’s video about reserving your very best pricing for your most loyal customers.)



Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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