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Home » Engagement, News, Social Media News

Social Media Spotlight: Does bribery work? PayPal UK puts it to the test with iPad giveaway

Submitted by on May 24, 2011 – 9:35 am2 Comments

PayPal UK launched an effort last week to boost its social media presence through a giveaway contest dangling free iPad 2′s. Its message: love us and we might award you with this must-have baby. Can boosting social followers through bribes be a genuine lure? More importantly, does it work?

On May 18, PayPal UK, the eBay-owned money transfer service, informed its Twitter and Facebook about the iPad 2 contest in an enticing and blunt tweet. Distilled, it read: “like us and you might get an iPad2.” PayPal UK has promised 10 lucky fans Apple’s most recent tablet computer.

Initial response has been positive. PayPal UK’s accounts are flooded with messages from enthused contestants, and its Facebook page tab hosting the contest collapsed shortly after its launch due to the influx of participants.

PayPal UK’s follower numbers have been boosted as well, especially on Facebook. Its Facebook page fan numbers  jumped from 17,800 fans on May 18 to 22,100 fans today. Its Twitter account saw a boost of 1,700 followers from 3,800 to 5,500. The graphs bellow depict the change, with Facebook on top and Twitter on bottom.

To be fair, giving away 10 iPads isn’t cheap. They are going for $500 a pop, so PayPal UK’s invested at least around $5K. But its results mirror those of a promoted tweet, which in itself can range in price from $2,000 to $100,000 depending on the number of clicks the tweet receives. The iPad 2 contest may have been a bargain.

So one thing is for sure, bribing the social community with fancy toys gets more people to sign up for a good price. But big followers numbers are not an end; they are a means to an end. The goal of strong online social following is to build a genuine and lasting conversation about a particular brand. Its hard to say if those who jumped on the “Like” button actually care about, or even use, PayPal UK. In fact, it is almost impossible to tell because the only thing being discussed on PayPal UK’s social accounts is the iPad 2 contest.

One can’t help but think of the “Twitter Follower Trains” that Twitter so animatedly fought against last year. Third-party services promised users more followers, but in the end users saw a huge boost in followers that didn’t care or interact with their accounts. In short, those who were following were following for the wrong reason. It wasn’t genuine.

Of course, this isn’t to say that people who like the iPad 2 don’t want anything to do with PayPal UK. PayPal is a popular online payment service, so matching it with free iPads isn’t a terribly foreign idea. Nevertheless, the contest approach to fan-boosting simply misses the mark because the digital marketers at PayPal UK don’t know if anyone really cares about the company or not. Moreover, it isn’t guaranteed that the newly gained users will stick around after the contest ends. They might just be in it for the iPad.

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