I don’t mind “membership incentives” in most communities, as sometimes you need to do that in order to introduce people to your unique service or such. But at what point do such incentives turn into downright bribes of your colleagues to join a service whose success is determined by the numbers of members who join and post there?
Sermo pulled out all the stops this week with not just one, but two, marketing efforts designed to increase their numbers.
Decide for yourself by reading the recent email they sent to members:
Refer 10 of your scary colleagues now to get a free iPod. If they join before November 15th, you’ll also receive $50 worth of iTunes to help you start filling your new iPod. No tricks. Just treats.
When your colleagues ask, just tell them that Sermo is the largest physician-only community, replete with hard-hitting clinical posts and the camaraderie you used to get in the doctors’ lounge. Your colleagues will even receive a $15 Amazon gift card — just for joining.
“Used to get in the doctors’ lounge?” What happened? Did they ban doctors’ lounges in hospitals recently and nobody told us?
Cool! Everybody wins!! Don’t you wish Facebook or Linked In did more of this for us ordinary people?
The second email was a little bit more dishonest, because its subject line read, “The $35,000 Sermo Choice Awards for Psychiatrists.” Wow, $35,000! That catches your eye. It sounds like they’re giving away multiple $35,000 awards only to psychiatrists on the service.
If you thought that, that’s what they wanted you to think. But you’d be 100% wrong.
Instead, they’re giving away $1,000 each week to three different doctors in one of three different specialties (if it sounds a little convoluted, it is — you only have one chance to win $1,000 total). So the more accurate, honest subject line to the email would’ve been “The $1,000 Sermo Award for Random Posting.” I say “random” because the email says,
The Sermo Choice Awards are a new way to award yourself and your colleagues for making the most astute clinical observations on Sermo.
It sounds a lot like a popularity contest to me. If you’re well-liked within the Sermo community, you’re far more likely to be voted upon than if you make the best or most “astute” clinical observation.
Good luck Sermo! I’m glad to see that word-of-mouth only goes so far, but “marketing incentives” should help ya out a bit there…