Want consumers to be more loyal? Be more social.
Columnist Maggie Malek asserts that brands that create meaningful relationships with consumers via social channels will come out on top.
With all the information and technology available today, the power has shifted from the brand to the consumer. Your consumer has the power to turn your brand off or on, to listen or to watch, to act and learn more or ignore. So how do you make sure consumers always choose you?
Many brands are finding success by building loyalty programs around a product or service. While the trend may seem new, American companies have been building loyalty programs — and encouraging consumers to continually invest in their relationship — since the late 1700s.
Fast-forward to the social media age and the continued transformation of brand-consumer relationships. Despite the power shift to the consumer and the dominance of social media in everyday life, surprisingly few companies have substantially integrated their loyalty and social media programs.
Here are six simple ways your brand can start leveraging social to promote your loyalty program.
Talk about it — everywhere
I am totally hooked on Delta’s SkyMiles loyalty program; my life is an endless quest to earn miles. I have two American Express cards that are linked to my loyalty account. I shop a plethora of retail partner stores through SkyMiles Shopping.
But I didn’t learn all these point-earning tricks through Delta’s social media pages. I learned all about it from a colleague who travels very frequently. That’s because Delta — with more than 1.5 million followers on Facebook alone — doesn’t talk about its SkyMiles program or its rewards partnerships at all on social.
Absence on social media is a huge missed opportunity for engagement (and sales). Why not educate your audience about your loyalty program (and explain why it’s a cut above) on the channels they tune into? And why not cross-promote the loyalty program on your brand’s generic page?
Don’t make consumers work for it; let social media do the heavy promotional lifting.
Make signups a social breeze
According to an Accenture study (slide 24), 73 percent of consumers prefer to do business with brands that use personal information to ensure relevance. How do you deliver on this with your loyalty program? Integrate social registration and login to all websites.
Want to go a step further? Incentivize users who sign up via social by giving them something extra. After all, if they sign in with Facebook, you get so much more data!
My Coke Rewards is a great example of this. It gives you several options to sign in with, ensuring that Coca-Cola connects with consumers via the social channel they love most.
Target your brand fans
Create custom audiences in Facebook, and then serve specific loyalty program messages to that select group of people. J.Crew does an excellent job of this. I’m always targeted on Facebook with ads that are specific to my online searches or are similar to my past purchases.
Since it’s pretty likely that your consumers’ social circles like the same things, you can create lookalike audiences based on your loyalty program custom audience and serve up ads for them… driving more traffic to your loyalty program.
Make loyalty shareable
According to a Nielsen study, 84 percent of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from friends, family and colleagues about products.
Tap into this trend, and gain additional trial of your loyalty programs, by providing occasions for members to share their rewards status with others over social media.
I love the way Starbucks does this. Every time I earn another reward on the app, it encourages me to send a tweet to my followers.
Finding ways to gamify your loyalty program adds the fun of a challenge and further amplifies your message organically by incentivizing consumers to talk about your brand.
For instance, for every share, give users another dollar or another mile. Create dashboards and celebrate super fans. Who has talked about your brand the most? Give them extra points. This will turn brand advocates into competitors (further ramping up your visibility). Both you and your fans will get the ultimate rewards.
For a great example of a loyalty program that gets it right in terms of social integration, shareability and gamification, check out the PGA TOUR’s mobile app. It was clearly built with social in mind, and users are encouraged to share at every turn.
Speaking of the PGA TOUR, they also get bonus points for using beacons at every event to send customized messages to the app… but integrating social media into your on-site event is another article on its own.
Give them what they want
You have a highly engaged audience of brand fans in your social channels. Ask them what they’re looking for in a loyalty program — it might not be all about points.
Your consumers may want experiences or behind-the-scenes access that only you can provide. By giving people what they want, you improve your loyalty program and ultimately bolster your bottom line. After all, it’s all about building that relationship!
At the end of the day, brands that create meaningful relationships with consumers are the brands that will win. If you want your brands to be more loyal to you… you’ve got to get social.