Creative Strategy

While there is a certain amount of personal gratification in becoming influential in the social networking realm, there can be a few extra perks involved. How does a free flight sound? Virgin America is among the first brands to recognize that there is more than a little mutual benefit in rewarding those social network users who have climbed the ladder of influence. In fact, they have geared several contests towards those top users in their latest social media strategy. Announced in mid-2010, Virgin America offered a free flight to top Twitter influencers in Toronto and San Francisco, based upon their Klout ratings. While the winning users were not strictly required to tweet about their flight or the free wireless access onboard, it was still modeled as a company promotion of their new daily flight plan from LAX and SFO to Toronto. The giveaway was a herald to Virgin America's launch in Toronto, and they likened the contest to receiving a sample while shopping at the grocery store. While it may seem counterintuitive to offer such opulent rewards and require so little of entrants, it's not as strange as it sounds. In social media theory, it's less about marketing and a lot more about customer engagement. It can sound forced to require a promotional tweet from the winner, something that might have negative repercussions on the brand. On the other hand, to simply bank on their excitement in winning the contest all but guarantees more than a few mentions of the brand to their followers.