Why is it so hard to give people dinero? .. and by this, I mean why is it so hard to get people to accept money?
In the case I am about to discuss, there is some randomness in who gets the money, but the money is still free to the recipient.
The subject case is about a forum-type web application to help intermediate Spanish language learners practice their Spanish. As a new app, getting a critical mass of users requires some recruitment, and part of the recruitment effort was to offer Amazon.com Gift Certificates to new users. We offered three certificates, totalling $100, and two of these were to randomly selected users.
We announced these offers as messages on the site, and 'bumped' the threads occassionally to keep them near the top of the thread listings so every visitor would see them.
We also advertised on Google AdWords, sufficient to bring over 1800 visitors. That is 1827 clicks, but I assume most were unique visitors. Most of these ads pitched the app, but a subset specifically pitched the 'Gift Certificates', or 'Certificados de Regalos'.
We do have a few organic links around the web, pointing to the app, but not specifically to the gift certificate offer. The Gift Certificate offer was specifically promoted in a Google Plus Spanish community with over 1000 members.
In addition to our promotional efforts to bring in interested users, we also 'primed the pump' by paying for fresh posts every day. Almost every day, 2 to 4 new messages were posted, keeping the content fresh. This content was generally upbeat and thoughtful, bearing on weather, friendship, ambition and other conversational topics.
This whole effort was conducted in August, when the school year was starting and internet search traffic for Spanish learning topics was at its greatest.
Thousands of people with some interest in learning Spanish saw our offer, saw that they could win free gift certificates for a short post, and chose to do nothing.
Two weeks after the offer, over 600 people had clicked through to view the front page mentioning the offer, and a grand total of ZERO new users1 had posted.
Why are people willing to do so little to claim free money? Why are people so reluctant to spend 5 minutes entering a free cash contest, for a $25 or $50 prize?
I ask myself what my own effort threshold would be for such an opportunity and I cannot cannot remember seeing any such cases. I do not know how I would respond.
Trust, I suspect, is part of the issue; maybe people doubt the sincerity of an almost anonymous offeror? Maybe the 'too good to be true' cynicism applies.
If the prize size is insufficient, increasing it might increase cooperation. If the cynical response is key, increasing the prize value would be counterproductive.
Is Google misleading me as to the significance of click-throughs, so the click-throughs aren't actually humans?
At this point, I have spent over a hundred dollars trying to give away a hundred dollars, and have so far failed.
If you read through all this looking for insight, sorry to dissapoint you; if you haven't ever tried to give gift certificates away to anonymous strangers, this might be interesting.
The site, FWIW, is at: http://milpalabras.rdbhost.com . The site does not carry advertising and, moreover, has no revenue nor revenue model.
I wrote it as a demo app for an application backend platform (Rdbhost), and promote it because successful apps are more influential in selling the platform. Another reason for writing it is that I am an intermediate Spanish language learner myself, and want a practice app just like this one. It serves me better if it has an active community.
1 this zero count excludes the paid 'pump priming' writers.