ChasNote

26 October 2005

Loyalty Created by Taking, Not Just Giving

Seth Godin presents an interesting theory on the connection between personal cash investment in an organization (say your alma mater) and loyalty to that organization, "Ben's Insight". Even if the dollar amount is insignificant, the act of taking someone's money increases his or her loyalty to you.

Yale wants Ben Stein's money so that Ben will be inclined to do the things that Yale really wants: send over great students, hire graduates, talk up the school and maintain its place in the pantheon of liberal arts colleges. And donors are far more likely to do that than disconnected alum.


I would extend this concept to non-cash contributions as well. In my days at CNET, we saw that readers who posted comments or user reviews (investments of time and ego) became more frequent visitors to those sites. Loyalty to the leading blog sites, which bring their readers even more deeply into the content creation process, seems to support the theory as well. More than 80% of Boing Boing readers and 75% of Searchblog readers report to reading those sites at least once a day. Once a day! On a webcast panel last week, Pajamas Media's Vik Rubenfeld shared similar stats for two of their politics sites: Little Green Footballs, where 75% claim to read daily, and Roger L. Simon's site, where 57% do.

This pattern, if it holds, means that citizens' journalism has much more to offer media companies than just cheap content.

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