It’s no secret that basic human nature compels individuals to want to be a part of something. That’s a major reason why social media communication works so well. In the business world, the addition of loyalty to a marketing strategy makes sense given that it is a natural extension of what consumers are going to gravitate toward. Businesses that take advantage of our natural tendency to be loyal stand to reap the rewards. Social media provides another channel by which a brand can make it that much easier for consumers to remain loyal to them.
With that, here are actionable tactics to get and maintain social media loyalty.
(1) Sign-up for a Third Party Loyalty Service
One of the best steps you can take is to sign up for a third party loyalty service. Start-ups like PunchTab, CubePoints and Perkville all offer some form of loyalty service for small businesses. With programs such as the ones these websites provide, you can reward customers for completing surveys, commenting on your corporate blog, or referring friends, not to mention a slew of other ways to positively reinforce them.
(2) Reward Power User Loyalty
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In order to take advantage of loyalty, you need to reward it. Companies know who their best customers are. They also know who is most active and engaging in social media. Take the opportunity to reward these power users. Give them something for free, a special discount, first access or peak into a new project, or other perk. Not only will they appreciate it, they’ll tell more people about how great your company is. Fans may show you how much they care about your brand online by engaging with you while other, more hardcore fans may send in photos of themselves using your products or some variation thereof. By rewarding these high power fans in social media, you’re letting everyone know you appreciate their passion and interest in your brand.
(3) Do Something Surprising
One of the most powerful things you can do to gain loyalty among social media fans and followers is to create a strong emotional connection. After all, people love pleasant surprises. Take your business hat off for a minute and think about the last time you were pleasantly surprised by a retailer. Whether it was a last second extra discount at the cash or a coupon for a freebie, chances are you loved it. These days, people live for spontaneous, exciting things, not to mention the novelty of that item. Surprising clients can lead to increased loyalty merely because it strengthens the emotional bond they feel. Even something as simple as wishing a consumer happy birthday can make their day.
(4) Custom Fan Pages
Brands are so used to having fans and fan pages (especially in the entertainment industry such as sci-fi fan pages) that they forget to reward their fans’ passion. Reverse the game by creating a custom fan page where you feature your most loyal “members” and top fans and followers.
(5) Host an In-person Activity/Outing
Depending on your business, be adventurous. For example, if you’re a sporting goods retailer, bring everyone on a trip or even host a meetup at a local park to play a ball game. If you’re a consultant, try bringing your top clients (together or even better, one-on-one) to a restaurant they typically wouldn’t have visited. Join them in the experience of trying something new. Make sure you document the activity and discuss it online. This could work well if you’re looking for something to fill your content marketing void.
(6) Factory Tours
Do you have a horde of Instagram followers? Try rewarding them by inviting them to your factory. Let them take photos and post away! Similarly, reward consumers who frequently retweet your tweets with a walk-through at your company’s manufacturing plant.
(7) Reward Mobility 24/7
With mobile devices, people are literally an arm’s length away from their social community 24 hours a day. That means you can send them deals at any time of day. Of course, some parts of the day are better than others but you should consider giving out deals only for the night owls, for example. Run a 3-hour contest, or give the most loyal followers a 2-hour window to take advantage of a special.
(8) Double The Points
If your company already has a loyalty program in place, consider offering double points on certain days of the year to anyone who announces a special to their friends on Facebook.
(9) Join Foursquare
Foursquare is a social media platform that adds a layer of gamification to users’ lives. When a consumer visits your retail store, for example, they “check in” on Foursquare using an app on their mobile phone. The app is powerful because it gives businesses the opportunity to reward loyalty right on the spot. For example, consumers can be offered discounts or promotions just for checking in. Moreover, the more frequently they visit, the greater the changes of them becoming the “mayor” of your outlet, at which point you can reward their continuing loyalty with an even better special.
(10) Tag Your Best Customers and Create Envy
Make an announcement on Twitter or publish a Facebook update where you thank your best customers. If you have photos, tag everyone. Customers who feel left out might buy more from you to get the same experience. People love to be treated as a special customer and in today’s loyalty culture, they shouldn’t even have to do a lot to be made to feel special. For this to work, make sure your business is set up for this type of announcement (always consider consumer privacy).
(11) Freebies for Newbies
If it’s one word in the English language that consumers love, it’s “free.” Reward new customers with something free. Get them excited from the start.
(12) Research & Development
Social media is a great place to generate research and development information. In fact, from a social media ROI perspective, it’s a powerful way to gather a lot of data with relative ease in a short period of time. It also allows you to pivot in your research so you can collect relevant information and use it to make important decisions. To that effect, reward website visitors and social media fans by asking them to complete short surveys, after which you offer a discount on a valued product or service. Alternately, you can reward them in other ways, as described in this article.
(13) Partner with Another Company
This one will take a little more work but it could be interesting to consumers who like gaming and the thrill of the hunt. Strike a deal with at least one other company whereby consumers who are loyal to both companies and demonstrate it on a social media network are provided with a good or service. The reward could be to get a real world benefit such as concert tickets or access to a sporting event.
Similarly, you can create a joint partnership with another company that gives you the opportunity to reward your most loyal customers. For example, reward customers for engaging your brand by way of likes, shares, photos with your products, and so on, with a discount on a third-party product.
I always say that the best birthday gifts are those that involve me receiving something that I wouldn’t have thought about or bought on my own but to which I will greatly benefit. Try thinking about that next time when it’s time to rewarding your most loyal customers. decide what you’ll repay loyalty with. Though, don’t forget to directly ask customers what they would prefer as a reward through tweets, company blog posts, and Facebook. Done right, both you and your customers will come out winners.