Community Advocacy and Conference Swag?

I work on a community team and most of my team mates seem infatuated with giving out swag/chachkies.

…And i don’t get it….

Let’s start out with what SWAG and Community are both good for:

  1. Swag > Driving a brand/marketing message.
  2. Community > Creating a connection

If you are in a marketing role releasing a new offering, giving out Swag makes perfect sense. After the event/interaction, those chachkies can potentially remind a would be consumer to investigate the offering.

With community you are cultivating a connection and advocacy…if you have to buy this advocacy with trinkets it is likely going to be short lived and very unlikely to drive any community commitment curve gains.

An Interesting (and accidental) experiment by a team i have interacted with at a large (20K attendees) industry conference was they hosted a booth and gave out chachkies AND had a drawing for a laptop.

Half that team focused on just that interaction…giving out trinkets, answering questions and signing people up to the website.  The other half of the team printed out little fliers and put them on the seats of their presentations where they instructed people how to solve common business problems…With the free samples listed on the fliers.

As you can guess from my introduction the team members that just gave out Swag saw no appreciable climb in their community contribution/growth.  The team members that gave out the fliers pointing out (FREE) samples saw a 300% increase during that conference.


Do shirts have a place in community?


In looking at the community commitment curve it seems this is an effort best focused at the top and people that want to fly your brands colors while they are presenting etc.

Will it make them work harder? …Unlikely but there is a good chance it may make their interactions more effective or help them start conversations.


For people that have seen me present may note the seeming inconsistency that i love tossing out stuff during my presentations….

Worth pointing out, I am just as likely to toss out candy bars as Tshirts AND the effort often involves some sort gamification…meaning i keep track of who gets the most candy bars etc and will introduce myself to this (would-be) advocate after the session.






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