We tried a small experiment two months ago among 23 members of two superuser programs.
One group of members received private, personal, rewards (notes of gratitude, swag, introductions to engineers).
Another received the same but it was in public, i.e. members received @mentions, thanks in the private group channel, swag they were encouraged to photograph themselves with and share with the group, and group introductions to engineers.
The rewards weren’t exactly equal, but the results weren’t even close. The public rewards were far more effective at driving more contributions, increasing positivity of contributions, and anecdotally helping members get along a lot better.
The purpose of the reward in a superuser/MVP program is to make members feel something. It’s so rarely about the reward itself.
The reward is a tactic, the feeling you’re trying to provoke is the strategy.
The most powerful emotions are those which make members feel a part of a unique, exclusive, group. This is a group whose status a member compares favorably with another group (typically normal, regular, members).
This doesn’t mean they see the other group negatively, they just see their own group more favorably.
How you give the reward is more important than the reward itself.