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Five ways to create a gamified, viral marketing campaign… we’re calling it Anthill’s Inaugural Fan Drive.

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Over the past 10 days, Anthill has experienced more technical issues and downtime than in its entire digital history. We won’t bore you with the details, suffice to say, it was hellish.

Rather than take a long-weekend to lick our wounds and recoup, it wasn’t a hard decision to attempt to turn this negative into a positive, and create a compelling ‘living’ lesson for Anthill readers instead.

We put together our collective antennae and created a bunch of new ways for our friends and fans (that’s you) to share their love for all things Anthillian. When handed lemons, we say, ‘Create a gamified, viral marketing campaign, dish out rewards and share the knowledge outcomes as another example of applied education and entertainment.’

As such, below you will find the composite of our efforts, culminating in five techniques to launch what we are calling the Inaugural Anthill Fan Drive.

Five game-layer inspired techniques that you can learn from… while helping Anthill.

By way of this post, we not only hope to show you how you can help us, but we also intend to show you how you might be able to apply some of these techniques and tools to help you and your business. We also plan to release the findings of this latest Anthill ‘experiment’ once our ‘Fan Drive’ has concluded. But only if you read and follow the prompts below.

PunchTab: Share to earn points and rewards

To the left of this page, you will see a bright red ‘rewards’ ribbon. (Click it. Go on. We dare you.)

This nifty addition to the Anthill website allows us to reward frequent visitors and people who are particularly generous with their social media interactions and comments. For example, once you have registered, a visit to our website will earn you 100 points. If you retweet an article, that will also earn you 100 points. (You’ll need a Facebook account to activate your membership. But that shouldn’t be a problem, right?)

Over coming weeks, we will be adding this functionality to a range of additional actions, such as comments and Facebook likes.

How is this gamified? By earning points, avid Anthillians will improve their status ranking, from ‘Worker Ant’ to ‘Jedi Ant’ and ‘Master Anthillian’. Sure, you won’t be presented with a Level 6 Sword, forged by the Gelfling King of Endor. Instead, you will become eligible for rewards, like eBooks, discounts to Anthill events and credits to spend at Antmart.

HELP ANTHILL #1: Click it on the red ribbon (left).

ListEruption: Refer friends by email to earn exclusive access.

When prompted to pledge your support for Anthill below, you will acquire opportunities to earn exclusive access to Anthill content.

This technique, powered by a WordPress plugin called ListEruption, doesn’t require a Facebook account. Once you sign-up for Anthill’s email newsletter (or, in this case, pledge your support), you will be provided with a custom link.

If you share this link with your friends by email, on Facebook or Twitter or anywhere, and if any of your friends sign-up, we’ll provide you with access to one of our most popular eBooks — Tom MacKaskill’s enormously popular ‘Raising Angel and Venture Capital Finance‘.

If two of your friends sign up, we’ll reward you with BookRapper combo — Made to Stick (in 30 seconds), Linchpin (in 30 seconds) and Outliers (in 30 seconds). If five friends sign up we’ll provide complete access to Anthill’s private eBook library (which, will henceforth, be known as the VIP Lounge).

Sure, many of these eBooks are already available on the Anthill site from free. But we’re adding a layer of convenience, and an easy incentive to prompt you (dear Anthillians) to share their interest in all things Anthillian. (Take your first step toward accessing the VIP Lounge below.)

HELP ANTHILL #2: Take your first step toward the VIP Lounge (above).

North Social: Trigger a ‘Viral Wave’ of support on Facebook

It seems that no serious ‘fan drive’ or word-of-mouth campaign is complete, these days, without a Facebook element.

This is because Facebook is built to be ‘sharable’ — almost every action you perform on Facebook is blasted to your friends.

To exploit this trend, numerous Facebook apps have evolved to generate fan-lead campaigns.

For the Anthill ‘Fan Drive’, we’re using a suite of Facebook applications, developed by North Social. In particular, we’re employing North Social’s ‘Viral Wave’ app, which works by asking fans to share a Facebook fan page. For this campaign, we’re employing the three part message:

Friends don’t let friends read snoringly-boring business news and advice.

By posting this message on your wall, you could save a friend from the soul destroying tedium of traditional business guff. Arrrgh!

YES, I’D LIKE TO SAVE A FRIEND TODAY.

(We suspect that this is likely to be the least effective of the techniques outlined in this post, simply because we haven’t been able to figure out how to set up this app as our default Facebook landing image. Any suggestions or tips as comments would be greatly appreciated.)

HELP ANTHILL #3: Visit the Facebook page and spread the word (click here).

Aweber: Use ‘annoying popups’ and lightboxes to engage new Anthillians

Popups and lightboxes are annoying. That’s something that we all agree upon. However, they are also outrageously effective at generating email newsletter sign-ups.

When Anthill first began using popups, with the assistance of email newsletter tool Aweber, our traditional email capture form (the green thing on the right sidebard) would reliably capture about 200 emails per month.

When we added the popup, this number fell to 100. Yet, the popup now reliably captures 500 new subscribers. Now you do the maths.

We did not lose Page Impressions… and our average monthly Unique visitors actually increased. This is largely because the popup topic was developed to be of interest to Anthill readers, and also because we set it to appear only on select pages and only once every 11 days (so that it wouldn’t overly annoy the Anthill ‘faithful’).

For this campaign, we are using a popup to support the ListEruption tool. To see what I’m talking about, visit the homepage.

HELP ANTHILL #4: Visit the homepage and wait five seconds. Voila!

Goodwill: Ask for help!

‘Goodwill’ is not a new and exciting new media tool, like PunchTab, ListEruption, North Social or Aweber. Yet, it is far more effective than all combined.

You are probably reading this post because we asked you to. We asked for your help and you rose to the occasion. (For that, we sincerely thank you!)

This makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside but doesn’t surprise us.

What does surprise us is how much most people fear asking their loyal customers for assistance.

Many people seem to worry that asking for help will be perceived as a sign of weakness. We’ve never found that to be the case.

In fact, in our not-so-limited experience, asking for help usually signals strength, because only people and institutions coming from a position of strength can admit their mistakes, can acknowledge their weaknesses and seek feedback, while the weak hide away, fearing that any attention might topple their fragile house of cards.

We’ve outlined some seemingly complicated technologies and sophisticated options above, but asking for help needn’t be so complex.

Next time you send an email newsletter, make sure that you ask your readers to forward it. Next time you update your blog, ask your readers to tweet it, or simply leave a comment.

There are many (too many) ways to leverage the goodwill of your customers and fans. However, the most effective by far is also the easiest. Just ask.

Help Anthill help you!

If you wish to conduct your own campaign to harness the passion of your customers, there’s one more thing you must do. You must appeal to two basic, very human motivators.

Let’s start with the pragmatic:

In order to meet our obligations to our sponsors and advertisers (who pay our bills and help keep Anthill free), we need to double our average weekly traffic over the next seven days. To do that, we’ve devised a number of neat, novel and highly ‘gamified’ ways to reward your help. We’ll even share what techniques yielded the greatest results. Spread the word and we’ll pay it back!

Then, of course, there’s the emotional:

If you have ever found inspiration in an Anthill article, if you have ever gleaned an enduring gem of wisdom from an Anthill insight, if one of our bloggers has ever enlightened you (or even outraged you), if you or your business has ever been featured, profiled or praised by way of an Anthill accolade or award, please help us spread the word. Share the love and pay it forward!

In other words, if you haven’t yet, pay it forward. Not only will you feel good but you’ll earn knowledge and rewards. This is the emotional and pragmatic combo. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective), all of the above is true.

We do need your help, in one or preferably all of the following ways:

HELP ANTHILL #1: Click it on the red ribbon! (left)
HELP ANTHILL #2: Pledge your support by signing up!
HELP ANTHILL #3: Visit the Facebook page and spread the word!
HELP ANTHILL #4: Visit the homepage and wait five seconds. Voila!

Now, what are your waiting for. Do-eet!

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