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Little Known Ways to Prompt Positive Social Media Engagement

Lately the conversation around social media has shifted from growth to positive engagement. Brands are finding their social media pages, while ripe with followers, have become negative echo chambers of customer complaints.

Studies have shown that people are more likely to post a complaint than share a positive experience, but the difference is marginal. Consumers are almost as likely to post about a ‘very good’ experience as they are a ‘very bad’ experience.

So why are complaints outnumbering compliments on brand social pages?

You might not like the answer.

Like most consumers, I rarely post about brand experiences because, well, they aren’t usually that great. They’re not bad. They’re just… average. So maybe it’s not that customers like to complain. Maybe we just aren’t giving them anything to compliment.

Before you hit the back button in a huff, tell me this:

Can you think of the last time you had a brand experience so great you just had to post about it? 

I’m willing to bet that if you have, the reason you felt compelled to share it was because that company went above and beyond your expectations.

It didn’t just meet your expectations. It didn’t settle for middle of the pack. It surprised you. It delighted you. And you rewarded them by telling all your friends about it.

If you want your customers to share great experiences, you have to give them something to rave about. You have to strive to delight. That means creating content that goes above and beyond their expectations. Content, like advergames, user generated content and gamified promotions:

1. Advergames

Advergames are casual games that deliver brand messaging during game play. Think candy crush but customized to deliver your brand messaging.

When you run an advergame on your social network, you drive repeat traffic while offering a positive brand experience. They’re amazing tools for driving engagement because they generate almost entirely positive feedback across the board. And, if well-designed, advergames are addictively fun. They deliver an experience that goes above and beyond consumers’ expectations. An experience that’s delightful. An experience that causes consumers to visit your social pages again and again — not to complain, but to enjoy themselves and positively interact with your brand.

You can also prompt players to share from within an advergame, which can further drive engagement. However you need to be careful about how frequently you let them post game updates. As anyone who is friends with a Farmville enthusiast will tell you, constant posts about game progress get old. Very quickly.

In fact, too many spammy posts can bring unwanted negative attention to your social pages.

On the other hand, you do want to encourage players to share updates — but with moderation. Letting consumers share the game to their friends and family increases the reach and can help drive positive engagement. Just be sure to limit the number of shares so players don’t spam other people’s timelines.

2. User Generated Content

User generated content (UGC) has the potential to generate all kinds of positive, organic engagement on your social pages. After all, the reason social media even exists is because we like seeing what other people are up to. Study after study has shown that consumers trust third-party opinions over branded content, so UGC can be great for nurturing followers into shoppers, but it also has the potential to backfire leaving you the topic of merciless jokes on Twitter. (Who knew people could be so mean in less than 140 characters?)

So if you’re going to do UGC, there are a few things you need to know:

  • Choose a hashtag carefully. If there is a way to turn your hashtag into a joke believe me, consumers will find it.
  • Moderate your content. Set very clear rules about engagement and moderate the content as it gets published. You don’t want inappropriate content showing up on your Instagram feed or Facebook page.
  • Make sure you ask people to share something they will actually want to share. Think about things that people already post — like pictures of their pets, selfies or food. Getting consumers to share content they already are producing will be much easier than asking them to share pictures they don’t usually take.

3. Gamified Sweepstakes or Instant Win Promotions

I’ve seen tons of companies run sweepstakes and instant win promotions on social, presumably with the goal of generating awareness and driving positive social engagement. But they typically run what I’ve dubbed ‘hit & run promos’ – contests that consist entirely of a registration form and a thank you notification.

I sincerely doubt these kind of contests generate much positive social engagement because they offer no value to consumers, other than the prize. They aren’t fun, or remarkable in any way. Like I said at the beginning of this article: If you want consumers to post about you, you have to exceed their expectations. You have to delight them.

And to be blunt, there’s nothing delightful about filling out a form.

On the other hand, gamified sweepstakes and instant win promotions make it fun — and worthwhile — to play for a chance to win. Even if players don’t win, the experience of playing is still positive — still delightful. That feeling of delight helps drive positive engagement on your social pages.

The Bottom Line

You can’t stay on the defensive forever. Simply responding to negative posts won’t encourage positive engagement.

Engaging and interactive content like advergames, user generated content contests, and gamified promotions prompt positive engagement because they go above and beyond consumer expectations. They offer value to consumers in the form of both a prize and an experience. They create cycles of engagement that prompt more positive feedback the more the game is played.

If you want to change the conversation on your social media pages, you have to give consumers something to talk about.

You have to exceed their expectations. You have to strive to delight.

About the author


John Findlay

John Findlay is co-founder of Launchfire, a digital engagement shop that helps leading retail, restaurant, and CPG marketers drive engagement at every step along the path to purchase. You can learn more about John at or visit

1 Comment

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  • Nice Post John,
    No doubt Advergames became the one of the most lucrative tool for brand managers but still UGC has own importance and even better than any other activity in social media. On the other hand we can think for Contest organizing to motivate users for UGC.