One of the key goals of any marketing strategy is to ensure as much market penetration as possible for the product/service. By so doing, many people get to know about the company, what they offer and how to interact with their products and services. This helps to increase word-of-mouth advertising which leads to increased sales. Since the dawn of the digital age, there has been a lot of emphasis on social media marketing. The use of internet-based platforms to promote a business. Bounty programs are usually an integral part of any digital marketing and promotional enterprise.

What are Bounty Programs
Bounties in the digital word take their origin from online gaming platforms that offered rewards for participating in their game development. Bounties are essentially incentivized reward mechanisms offered by companies to individuals. What this means is that a company introducing a product or a service offers some rewards to people in exchange for performing certain tasks. It is akin to a barter trade of sorts; the company gives rewards to a person and the person in return does some simple tasks for the company. It is a veritable means of advertising for many companies.

Within the cryptocurrency scene, bounties have become a useful part of any ICO campaign. Many start-ups usually incorporate a bounty program as part of their ICO campaign. During the bounty program, the ICOs provide compensation for a number of tasks spread across marketing, bug reporting or even improving aspects of the cryptocurrency framework. The reward is usually in the form of cryptocurrency tokens or fiat currency (this option is however rare). The cryptocurrency space has proved to be a massively conducive environment for bounty programs. This is because it offers great rewards and incentives for both the cryptocurrency start-up and individuals alike.

The ICO Bounty Framework
It has become something of a tradition for cryptocurrency ICO campaigns that incorporate bounty programs to either do a Pre-ICO bounty or a post-ICO bounty. Bounties are generally not done together with ICOs.

· Pre-ICO Bounty Programs
Like the name implies, these are bounty programs that are carried out before the actual ICO. They are usually done to get the buzz going and to give the cryptocurrency project an improved presence on social media platforms. It is all about creating awareness for the cryptocurrency ICO and to get the word-of-mouth going. The framework is such that informal advertising channels are utilized to increase market penetration. The aim of such bounties is that as participants go about carrying out the various activities, the people in their circle begin to know more about the cryptocurrency. The common Pre-ICO bounty activities include:

1. Social Media Campaign Bounties
This involves activities that promote the ICO on the social media accounts of participants. The rewards earned depend on the engagement levels generated by such posts. This can be in the form of retweets, likes, shares, views, and comments. The popular social media platforms used for ICO bounty programs include Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

2. Article Writing Bounties
This is for participants who have blogs with a large number of followers and readers. ICO bounty programs can offer rewards to bloggers to write featured articles about the ICO on their blogs. Just like the social media bounty, the rewards will be dependent on the engagement level of the articles and blog posts.

3. Bitcointalk Signature Bounties
This is a popular bounty for many ICOs. It is open to participants of the Bitcointalk forum. The ICO releases a signature with a code embedded in it. The ranking of the participants who post this signature determines the number of stakes they get. For most bounty programs, only people on Bitcointalk who are Jr. Members and above can participate.

· Post-ICO Bounty Programs
At this point, the ICO has been completed and funds have been raised. Now, it’s all about making improvements to the cryptocurrency projects based on community suggestions. Post-ICO bounty programs are aimed at improving feedback from the project community. Some of the common types of Post-ICO bounty programs are as follows:

1. Translation Campaign Bounties
This involves translating all documents pertaining to the cryptocurrency project as well as moderating different forum groups. It is the perfect bounty program for native speakers of languages like Japanese, French, Spanish, Dutch, and German etc. The common translation activities include cryptocurrency website, white paper and the Bitcointalk ANN thread.

2. Bug Reporting Bounties
Apart from being an effective bounty campaign activity, bug reporting also helps the developers. A good bug report clearly and concisely identifies issues with the cryptocurrency software or platform.

It is important to note that there isn’t a hard and fast rule as concerns the activities for Pre-ICO and Post-ICO campaigns. Cryptocurrency ICOs can decide to use any of the aforementioned activities in either Pre or Post-ICO bounty programs.

It is common for a cryptocurrency start-up to set aside a percentage of the total coin supply for the bounty program. Information regarding this amount can usually be found on their website, white paper or Bitcointalk ANN thread.

How to Get Involved in ICO Bounties
ICO bounty programs are a great way to participate in the market and earn tokens. These tokens can even be exchanged for fiat money. Most of the activities aren’t really technical in nature as they rely on common internet activities and interactions. One of the best ways to get involved in bounty programs is via the Bitcointalk and Cryptocointalk forums. Almost all ICO bounties are listed here.

The Future of Bounty Programs
As ICOs rose in popularity in 2017, so did bounty programs. The allure of getting free tokens for promotional activities was something that appealed to a lot of crypto hobbyists. However, bounty programs have come under scrutiny from some financial regulators like the United States SEC. The reason for this is that bounty programs essentially encourage people to participate in a commodity that has a financial risk.

The main point of the SEC’s scrutiny is based upon the Howey Test and how it applies to bounty programs. The fact that profits come from the efforts of a third-party promoter (in this case, the participant in the bounty), then the bounty campaign constitutes an investment contract transaction. This, therefore, means that almost all bounty-promoted tokens are in fact securities, and are therefore subject to the SEC’s securities regulations.

The SEC isn’t the only one towing this line, with financial regulators in the UK also coming to the same conclusion. With the regulatory framework in the crypto market becoming more clearly defined, the bounty program may become the focus of more government scrutiny.

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